Thinking about what you don’t want is problem thinking whereas thinking about what you do want is outcome thinking.
It may seem obvious to focus on what you want but the meaning of the communication is the response it elicits. I recently had a client who told me that every night her daughter comes in and wakes her up several times during the night. She said “I tell her every night ‘do not disturb me during the night’ and yet she does it again. I don’t know what to do.” She has told her daughter not to come in, not to wake her up or disturb her but she hasn’t told her what she does want instead. How much more effective, and what a much clearer communication to tell her daughter to stay in her room until the morning?
It’s not just about what we say and how we think, it’s the way we live our life and what we notice. When we notice what’s going well, the good decisions and choices we make and notice the steps we are making along the road to our goal rather than pouncing on the disappointments and false moves, that we will find ourselves closer to our goal.
Focusing on what we do want rather than on what we don’t want is a matter of thinking first what we really want, imagining what it will be like and taking it on as our identity.