Updated: Aug 13, 2019
Last time, we looked at the funk in our lives and how that funk, if left unchecked, can lead to all sorts of trouble – mentally, physically, relationally. Remember the thought chain? #thoughtchain
Stressor ---> Negative Thought ---> Negative Emotion ---> Negative Reaction
To get a handle on our funkadelia, we must add a direction correction somewhere along this chain. The best place to do this is at the negative thought. It is at this link that we can have a long-term impact on our inner life. #funkadelia #directioncorrection
I know you have been wondering exactly how to do this. I am here to tell you that it is rather simple. Yes, simple.
You are thinking I am an idiot, right? I did not say it would be easy. Like changing a light fixture, the process is rather straight forward, but it never ever evergoes smoothly – at least for me. I have changed at least 20 lights and two ceiling fans in my current house. Not one of them was easy. #lightfixture
And neither is adjusting our negative thoughts. Most of these seemingly random thoughts have been with us a long time. They come from our past experiences where you may have been put down or abused. For some of us, we come out of the womb with a pessimist’s eyes. Sometimes, bad things happen to us that contribute.
Did you have a parent that never encouraged you or worse said you would never amount to anything? Were you teased as a kid or worse bullied? Did you compare yourself to those around you and found yourself lacking? Do you still do this?
I had wonderful parents. They never purposefully put me down. I was always encouraged and loved and supported. But I was one born to see the ‘glass half-full.’ With an extra delicate sensibility and a bit of teasing I became one negative Nancy who turned those negative thoughts mostly on myself. You can only be called ‘Val the Cow’ or ‘Bertha Butt’ for so long before you begin to see yourself as an ugly, misshapen duckling. #uglyduckling #beautifulswan
To be loved, I thought I had to perform perfectly or win other people over. Failure was taken so close to heart that I began to see myself as worthless. Around this same time, I had a traumatic experience that led to my first suicide attempt at age 11. If only I had known then what I know now! #suicidehelp #depression #anger
If negative thoughts can spiral this way, certainly positive thoughts can have the opposite affect! They can and do.
So, Val, get to the ‘how to!’
Okay. At the risk of sounding like Stuart Smalley of SNL sketch fame (young people – look it up), you tell yourself the positive truth. You are smart enough, you are good enough, and Gosh Darn it – people like you! #SNL #Stuartsmalley #enough
Seriously, though, this is not far from the truth. Most of our negative thoughts are outgrowths of lies.
Do you relate to any of these?
You can’t do anything right: aka - I must be perfect
Why do you have to muck everything up: aka - life should be easy
I am a worthless toad: aka – you are only as good as what you do
You ARE a cow: aka – there is nothing beautiful about me – who is going to love me
Nothing ever works out for me: aka – I cannot be happy unless things go exactly the way I think they should
Doofus, in the red car cutting me off…you shouldn’t have a license: aka – someone must be blamed and it can’t be me
What things do you tell yourself? Do you even recognize that you do this? Is it time for a direction correction? #lieswebelieve
STEP 1– Recognize: Be aware that you are having an internal conversation every day and what you say about yourself and your world will affect how you walk out your hours.
Step 2 – Reject: Say 'No!' to the negative. Be willing to give up the thought for a better one.
Step 3 - Replace: Insert the direction correction. If every morning you tell yourself not to screw everything up today, instead tell yourself that you will do your best and that is good enough.
Step 4 - Respond: Say the truth to yourself or speak it over someone else. And chose your reaction to situations based on the truth, not the lie.
Now repeat these until you begin to believe the truths. See simple. Not easy. There are a few strategies to help.
Understand that you can change the quality of your thinking. Understanding where negative thoughts come from is the beginning of the process.
Psychologists often use a tool to help their clients. They suggest that you keep track of your negative thoughts for a few days and notice what is triggering them. Or keep a journal.
Once you get a better picture of your thinking, “flip the switch” to a positive thought. Visualizing actually flipping a switch can help or picture yourself turning around.
Use a two-column page and write done the positive thought that you can use replace the negative.
Ask for help from a pal you trust.
Input positive images and words. Such as read your Bible, find a funny cartoon or show, find stories of perseverance, etc. Constant murder and mayhem in our entertainment is not necessarily healthy.
The Bible actually has a lot to say about this. Next time, we will look into what Paul called “renewing your mind” (Romans 12:2). Until then, may you flip all your switches and change direction.