Do you realize that our thoughts determine our moods and reactions? They dictate whether we live happy and peaceful or chaotic with anxiety and stress.
I used to just let my thoughts run wild in my mind. I never realized that I had the power to control what I allowed into my mind. That’s right, we can choose our thoughts!
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James
It seems like such a simple thing that we’d all recognize but we don’t. The majority of us live lives controlled by whatever our brains come up with. Thoughts are just that…thoughts. We can create some ugly fear based scenarios in our minds if we allow ourselves. They aren’t reality and they aren’t truth unless we control them and choose them based on truth.
“Where the mind goes, the man follows.”
What do you think about? If you’re a positive person you likely think positive thoughts. Some people do have that gift, I for one, do not.
Coming from a very negative family, I have to constantly keep my thoughts in check. This is something I’m determined to overcome. I’m not fully there yet but I have made enormous strides from where I used to be.
The first step to take is to just become aware of your thoughts. Set aside time each day to think about what you’ve been thinking about. Set alerts or calendar reminders if you need to. Then observe what those thoughts produced in your day. Stress? Happiness? Anxiety? Become aware.
When you’re feeling stressed or upset, stop to think about your thoughts. It’s your thoughts that are making you feel that way. Yes, we have upsetting things happen throughout the day but it’s how we react to those situations and how we think about them that makes the difference in how we feel.
Once you have an idea of the kinds of thoughts you are producing, start looking at how you can shift them to a positive thought pattern instead.
For example, I struggle in the mornings when I wake up. I don’t know why I do but that seems to be the hardest time for me to get excited about the day. Perhaps because I’m half asleep and groggy.
I’ve had to train myself to stay in bed for a bit and shift any negative thoughts I have about the day into hopeful positive ones. It helps to think about all the blessings you DO have in your life and what truly matters. Being thankful is one thing I learned that significantly changed my life. We get what we focus on.
It helps to put powerful quotes or Bible verses on post its. Stick them wherever you need to see them. Post them all over the house and your office if you need to! You have to keep those powerful motivators in front of you. Spend time reading books on positive thinking as well. The more you engage and empower yourself the quicker the changes will start happening.
If you’re not happy with something in your life, your job for example, you need to look at how to change that. Look at why you are unhappy and start coming up with ways to change it or fix it.
If you are miserable it will be hard to keep a positive mindset. Misery is usually the universe telling you that you are out of alignment with where you are supposed to be and you need to readjust. Figure out what you do want and start taking steps in that direction. Don’t stay where you’re at for safety or out of fear.
When you’re going through hard things, which we all do, it’s very hard to be positive. In fact, someone telling us to be positive can make us want to punch them in the face. I have felt that way many times in the past and hearing that I need to be more positive when I’m focused on my problems made me mad!
Re-read that last sentence. The reason it upset me was because I was focused on my problems. I wanted to complain and moan about my problems, not be miss Mary Sunshine.
The more we focus on our problems the bigger they become in our lives. Your problems will take over every aspect of your life if you choose to focus on them. Your work life, your family life, your social life, it will consume it all. I know because I’ve been there. When that happens the world becomes very dark and hopeless. It also drains your energy.
Yes, I understand that it’s very difficult, but believe me, you can shift your focus if you put in the determined effort. My advice is to FIGHT. Don’t let the bad win. Don’t give up. If you don’t make quick progress, don’t get frustrated, this takes time. Instead look at the small progress you have made. You are reversing a lifetime of thinking.
I’ve learned to accept problems as they arrive because now that I’m older and wiser (haha) I realize that is what life is all about. Life is ever changing, nothing stays the same for long. You can expect bumpy times ahead, boulders thrown in your path, or mountains to climb. It happens to everyone! None of us are exempt. But you can also expect amazing adventures, comedy, and magical moments that take your breath away! Focus on those.
Life is a training ground. Each storm we go through changes us somehow. It directs us to something new. It makes us go deeper in our faith and seek answers. It makes us realize what is truly important in this world. Sometimes it’s a bridge to something better.
Embrace the suck! Learn to talk it out with God, voice your concerns, ask for help and then let it go. Your job is to do your best in the given circumstances.
Look at what is going on and ask “what is this trying to teach me”, “how can I learn and grow from this”? There may be something in your life that needs to change. Seek!
When we are going through hard things you will notice that we are much more sensitive in all our environments. We are quicker to snap at a loved one, we are more prone to road rage, we get frustrated with people more easily, and we are quick to get upset or have our feelings hurt. This is because our minds have been so heavily focused on what is wrong in our life.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
I love the verse above because it tells us exactly what to focus on. Don’t give the bad things power and any space in your mind. FIGHT! Conquer the bad thoughts with good thoughts.
You get what you focus on so focus on happy things. Take your problem and think of all the ways it can turn out right instead of worrying about what could go wrong.
If you struggle to find anything good, use this: If you have a roof over your head and some spare change in your pocket you are richer than 75% of the world. You have running water, many people don’t. You get a hot shower and drive a vehicle to work. You don’t have to worry about war around you. You are living the miracle of life!
When I’m at my darkest, grabbing onto those things shift my mood really quick and I become thankful for the problems that I have because they are small when you look at the big picture.
Lastly, take a look at your life and if you’re doing anything that could be affecting your mood. Such as not getting enough sleep, eating a poor diet, not exercising, or hanging out at a bar drinking.
If you’re not getting enough sleep you will need to change your habits and get in bed earlier. The first week your body will not want to go to sleep because the habit of going to bed later is ingrained but your body will adjust, give it a few days. Try listening to sleep stories if that helps or a podcast. Focus on how you want to feel tomorrow.
The way I eat REALLY affects my mood. Especially sugar. I can feel it within a couple hours of eating some ice cream (my weakness). My energy level drops, my mood shifts to more of a negative mindset, and my motivation decreases. Become aware of what you are putting in your body and how you feel after doing so.
Exercise helps us to detox and get the body moving. A lot of times we set exercise goals and when we fall off track we judge ourselves and this can put us in a negative mindset because we feel like a failure. This happens to everyone, just get back on the wagon. Remember how good you feel when you do get your exercise in.
If you’re staying out late, drinking, etc. be aware of what this produces in your life. Did the night prior produce something good and long lasting in your life or did it add to the frustration of life or make you feel down about how you acted or how it made you feel. I can tell you that getting drunk doesn’t produce any good and it certainly isn’t going to make you feel positive and happy the next day. If anything, it will cause you to make bad choices that will cause more problems later. Be aware of your lifestyle and what it produces in your life. I have witnessed many people who are unhappy with their lives turning to alcohol in the evening to self medicate.
This also includes what you are watching on TV, what you are listening to, your social media habits, and who you hang around. Pay close attention to how things leave you feeling. If something shifts your mood look deeper into why.
If it’s the people you’re surrounding yourself with you’ll want to look for friends who are more in alignment with where you’re at in life. People who are focused on growing and becoming better. They will motivate you and not set you back.
Change the things that aren’t working and don’t beat yourself up for the mistakes you have made. You are human and we’ve all been there.
I will finish this out with this beautiful quote from Johnny Cash:
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on them. You don’t let them have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”
Much love to you!
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