Is it just me or when your boss sends you a vague email that says….”meet me in my office in 10 minutes”…do you immediately gravitate toward the negative? Do you spend the next 10 minutes worrying about what you did wrong, and although the only thing you can put your finger on is last Tuesday you possibly committed the cardinal office sin and you might have forgotten to refill the paper tray in the copier…this is the only thing that could be wrong…but still your mind is reeling…am I in trouble? Will they fire me?…and then you start planning out your awesome apology speech to help you dodge the bullet.
Maybe; If your super crazy like myself, you can kick that worry up into overdrive and quickly progress from “could I be in trouble” to…your totally getting fired, you call your spouse to let them know and start packing up your desk “just in case”…then you let your mind spiral into the litany of tragic events that are to come….before those 10 minutes are up I have already figured out in my mind that soon after I am fired…we end up homeless don’t know where our next meal is coming from, the dog will starve to death and one of the kids is reduced to selling smack on the street to pay for a life saving operation their sibling needs to survive.
…all because I forgot to refill paper in the copy machine?…..(ha! you guys think I am kidding! I really am that crazy…FYI I am not really sure what smack is but I think its safe to assume its not something you want your kids selling on the street)
Why is it we don’t instinctively starting thinking about the good?…consider getting the same email and you immediately start thinking…”Man I am getting a promotion! Corner office here I come!” Then you flash forward 10 years and envision your youngest graduating Magnum Cum Laude from Harvard and the older one is on the verge of curing cancer and receiving the noble peace prize?
Wouldn’t that me be more constructive use of our time? This quick progression from bad to worst is called Destructive thinking…..man ol’ man I have been the Mayor of Destructive Thinking Town lately!
Seriously…Wouldn’t you know my luck…I start this campaign to de-stress and simplify my life and suddenly I find my self smack dab in the middle of most chaotic season I could imagine! One thing after another…In addition to the unsustainable pace that I am already living my life at; in a short period of time I have watched many people around me face life altering challenges and heart break, that I can not even fathom. I have been hurt and scared and angry…feeling like my head would spin off my shoulder.
Today a friend came to me for some advice and encouragement on some issues they were having in their life…. My immediate (and destructive) thought was…
Why are you coming to me? Haven’t you seen what a hot mess my life is? Don’t trust me with yours…
My second (and more productive) thought. Was a bible verse…. “Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ”
As i sat there and gave my fiend advice; I realized God was also working within me and helping me thru this season of Destructive Thinking that I was allowing myself to be sucked in to.
I need to stop allowing thoughts to control and my behavior and instead capture them and make them obedient….that’s an abstract concept but bear with me for a minutes and let that adsorb….there is so much truth there!
I am the first person to tell my kids when they are reacting to hurt, anger or fear that someone has caused; I remind them quickly….“You can not control what happens to you; but you can control the way you react to it.”
1st thing you have to do recognize…..You are not God; somethings you cannot control (eeekkk that is a tough pill for swallow for a recovering control freak…I use the word recovering quite loosely) the things you cannot control you have got to let them go. Give them up to God and release yourself from that burden. Why waste time and energy that you don’t even have to spare if there is nothing you can do about it?… (I will refrain from reciting the serenity prayer here but you all know its true!)
2nd Focus on the Good…Philippians 4:8 Instructs us to focus are our thoughts on whatever is true, just, honorable, lovely, excellent, pure, and praiseworthy…why? Because there is power in thinking positively. Your Perception is Your reality If you perceive the world is falling down around you, it will feel like the end of the world everyday. (I needed to be reminded of this daily) You have a choice, Choose to focus on what is lovely!
From my example above with the email from your boss….I know this does’t come naturally, but great way to put this into practice and make it a habit…start a gratitude journal; get into the habit of writing in it every day no matter what. Write down 3 things you are thankful for. Even when you feel awful and it seems like everything is falling apart, you can find something to be thankful for…even the smallest things. If nothing else be thankful that you slept in a bed, that you have food to eat….be thankful that your first born isn’t reduced to a life of crime and is selling smack on the street to pay for a life saving operation for their sibling… (Hey everyday that your child isn’t selling smack is a good one right! That is a WIN with a capitol W…I might make that my new motto!)
Last but not Least #3 Take care of yourself…Have you ever heard the safety speech the flight attendants give at the begging of a flight. They always remind parents to put on their own oxygen mask before trying to help their children…this feel counter intuitive; buy you can not save them if you have passed out because you can not breath without oxygen.
Sometimes putting your self first is necessary for the good of everyone. If you are running yourself to death trying to manage the world for your family, and you aren’t being gentle with yourself; you will burn out. Take some time and use all of the things you have learned about positive thinking and pour that back into yourself. Think about what makes you happy, thank about what you need to feel at peace, think about what kind of good you can do if you weren’t so bogged down. Then capture those thoughts and make the obedient and turn them into action!
Choose to Hop off the crazy train and choose joy for yourself! Which in some ways is the same as choosing joy for those around you.
(Luckily my husband “Mr. No Words” is intentionally illiterate and will not take the time to read this far because if he read that I would hear about 6 hours of “I told ya soo’s ” because this is a constant battle in our house….that means you are all sworn to secrecy…..I am certainly a work in progress to say the least)