How to break the cycle.
Did you know that 90 percent of our thoughts are the same as the day before? No wonder nothing changes until we change. This is why I wrote the 21 days to Your Best Life. The e-book was nothing extraordinary, only an awareness of the changes a person can make internally and how those changes create real results in the natural world.
Change begins with the personality. So what is personality? One definition of personality is personal existence. It is how a person acts, thinks, and feels. Personality is the combination of what we do based on what we internalize.
For instance, I would not jump into a pool unless I wanted to swim. I do not sit at a computer to write without feeling that I want to share something. We as persons are constantly reacting to our thoughts and emotions, triggers and hopes.
John Maxwell, a famous public speaker, personal development coach, and best-selling author, said during a conference I attended that he could follow someone around for a day and tell them how successful they would become. Maxwell, to my knowledge, did not have a crystal ball or the power to see into the future, but he comprehended the importance of personality better than most.
How humans act, think, and feel, ultimately creates our realities. Some call this reconditioning of our minds to achieve extraordinary goals “The Secret.” But it is no secret at all. Our minds are a battlefield, and we constantly fight to win or lose in this life based on what we allow to settle in our heads. It is a fact that on this earth, only the strong-minded thrive.
ACKNOWLEDGE VERSUS DENY
I do not know about you, but before I learned this lesson, I would try to deny that I was having negative thoughts to defeat them. I have learned to do the opposite. Now I practice acknowledging that disempowering thoughts and feelings exist, they come, but I don’t have to allow them rent-free space.
My responsibility is to question their validity. I decide on that thought or feeling by asking, “is this true?” Or I should say, I am practicing this habit. I am not an aficionado, yet.
Here’s a scenario. During the pandemic, I went to the grocery store wearing my mask, and someone sneezed. Thoughts like, “these masks don’t work perfectly. Am I going to get sick? Should I have stayed home?” bombarded my mind. These were real concerns back then. But this is how I learned to handle something as serious as a viral disease.
I took a deep breath, considered the thoughts, and asked myself if they were true. There were only three answers to consider:
If it is true, then I will get sick, and I will be stuck at home, if not worse.
If it is not true, I will say so to myself and keep shopping,
And if I do not know whether it is true or not, which I did not, then I will ask myself another question: What can I do about it now? As soon as I could, I did those things.
Once I made a decision to do what I could do about the situation as soon as I could, I stopped worrying. I refocused on the present and finished shopping. When I got to my car, I drank my water, then I drove home, unpacked my groceries, took some Black seed oil (an immune-system booster), cleaned my nose, and went about my day praising God. I never mentioned my thoughts to anyone.
And I never became ill.
Aren’t we glad the anxiety around the pandemic is gone?
Sometimes what we are battling is more visceral. Emotions like sadness can come on us quickly. As a child, I could go into a full-on snotty, ugly-face cry while watching a movie or attending a funeral. I didn’t even have to know the person who had died. My emotions were not worn on my sleeve. They covered my entire body. So what did I do? I avoided funerals and watched sappy melodramas alone.
What I understand now is that I was resisting something I did not want to deal with. It did not change the situation, but I thought I felt I was protecting myself from the pain and embarrassment.
But that’s not entirely what happened. What we resist persists. The same pain and sadness about a loved one’s loss remained. The person I loved would not show up the next day alive and energetic. They had passed away. That was an undeniable fact. By avoiding the funeral, I only removed my body, which did not change the facts.
It wasn’t until I attended my Aunt Ruth’s funeral a couple of years ago, did I sit with my sad feelings to deal with my grief. It was the first time that I felt comforted in the midst of sadness. At that time, I wrote a blog about it because I could not believe the peace I felt afterward.
During the Lenten season, I am also learning that this process of crying and transparency in prayer brings us closer to the comfort we need. It is not something to shy away from but a moment to embrace the path ahead, the new reality. I had done that with my aunt’s passing, but I did not know that it was a lesson I could use with negative thoughts or emotions. By processing the loss of a loved one, privately, I was able to be strong for those around me who were sad. That would have been impossible if I had been emotionally charged.
Privately is an operative word to point out. The reason I hesitated in the past had a lot to do with the lack of knowledge about responding to loss, timing, and privacy. Like in my youth, it is not always the best time to stop and cry and pray to God. That’s weird. Plus, it is hard to gain clarity in dramatic or toxic settings. It is easy to be reactive in those environments.
What I have learned recently is that I can use those same healing techniques of privacy in prayer with all forms of loss. The University of Texas at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center states the following about loss on its website:
Feelings of loss are very personal, and only you know what is significant to you. People commonly associate certain losses with strong feelings of grief. These can include:
Subtle or less obvious losses can also cause strong feelings of grief, even though those around you may not know the extent of your feelings. Some examples include:
Many of these losses, I experienced at the same time. So there was a compounding effect on the pain I felt. Losses like divorce, change in career, and leaving home were losses I never dealt with. I simply moved on. But sometimes, certain feelings are triggered when I consider the life changes I had to make.
For others, it could be the lack of a father (or “father wound”), a miscarriage, a physical impairment, or a loss of a business. They moved on, but the pain remained.
Like the data above, feelings of loss are personal, and they show up in our personality and keep us on a cycle that may not be in our best interest. Only we know which loss is a trigger for us, and only with the help of God can we overcome these very real reactions to pain and grief.
Because I believe revelation requires a response, I have scheduled time to process any losses still lingering in my head and heart that coincide with my chosen time to fast and pray for Lenten season. I think this is a productive way to use that time. Ultimately, I believe I will experience a breakthrough so that what exists inwardly will no longer persist.
Hey, we know faith without works is dead. Therefore, we have to employ lessons learned to overcome life’s challenges. Being cognitive of despair, loss, and discouragement when it pounces on you, unaware, and how to deal with those situations, is a valuable lesson to learn.
In a quick recap, allow me to share how I respond to negative thoughts and emotions:
First, I have to deal with it expeditiously but privately. I cannot afford to deny it because it isn’t going away on its own.
Next, I have to accept it, only if it is true. Sometimes this is done by faith, like during the pandemic when “the science” was novel, and we did not know what to believe.
Finally, if I know the thought or emotion is not true, then I must correct it.
These are the steps that have helped me form godly habits. These steps are improving my life and lessening my anxieties and sadness.
When I capture self-defeating thoughts through awareness (which is metacognition) and replace them with the correct belief and emotions, I am renewing my mind.
It is daily work. Sometimes, moment by moment. But God will not put more on me than I can bear, and He will not leave nor forsake me.
Lastly, as I train to “weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice” without figuring out why it happened, I see the beauty in God’s perfect plan for imperfect people. We, humans, are layered specimens, and good and bad things (like loss) happen for reasons you and I will never understand. I have decided that I do not even need to know. I only need to live purposefully and practice being a shining example of God’s love, grace, and mercy in this world, which starts in my mind, flows into my heart and shows up in my actions.
If you are searching for ways to break the limiting cycles in your life, I hope this lesson is a blessing to you. And here are some Scriptures to be mindful of: https://www.openbible.info/topics/mind.
In peace and love. Really,
#overcoming #negativity #loss #emotions #feelings #despair #discouragement #pain #anxiety #fear #victory #peace #lent #lessonslearned #truth #reality
Noted: October 8, 2022