Our happiness, joy, peace, success, sadness, fear, failure – all of it — begins with a single thought. It’s true. We can use our thoughts to torture and terrify ourselves, or we can use our thoughts to strengthen and fortify ourselves. The problem is, most of us don’t think. We let our thoughts run rampant until we learn we have the power to change those thoughts. If we really understood that it all begins with our thoughts, we would be very careful with the thoughts we think. We would listen to Ralph Waldo Emerson when he said, “Stand guard at the portal of your mind.”
I learned the real truth of this on New Year’s Eve 2013, bringing in the New Year 2014. Without going into details about the events, I was a victim of my own thinking most of 2013. You’ve heard the saying, “I couldn’t see the forest for the trees?” I couldn’t see the whole picture. Even though I am adamant about not being a victim, (I can’t stand it), without realizing it, I allowed myself to become a victim of the circumstances surrounding me. I thought it was all about the people around me and what they did or didn’t do for me. I thought I was just rejected by everyone outside of me, so I thought I must be worthless (we will talk about Self Worth and Self Image in the next blog). Thankfully, my faith in Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father was what helped me through those self-destructive thoughts. Like I said though, I had the power to change those thoughts the whole time. I just didn’t know it. I guess a part of me knew I could change my circumstances and the way I was feeling. I was working on it, looking for answers, reading books, etc. But, I still found myself in a depression, not fully understanding how to get myself out of it. Reading books like, Break Out, by Joel Osteen helped me. The reason it helped so much, was because I was focusing my thoughts on truth while reading that book, instead of letting the negative thoughts breed and run rampant. On New Years Eve, it was as if a huge burden had been lifted from me, simply because the clock changed to midnight. I was so happy to see the New Year come in and I felt like it was a new beginning (For as a man thinketh in his heart so is he ~Proverbs 23:7). But, guess what. Nothing in my circumstances really changed at all. It was simply my thoughts about the circumstances that changed, and I was empowered to take my life back. Crazy, huh? I get it when they say, “It’s 10% what happens, and 90% how we respond (or think about it).
So, how is it that our thoughts really matter? Let’s break it down. Our THOUGHTS cause our FEELINGS. One of my daughters called me the other day, very concerned and worried about one of her college classes. She was upset and even crying. I said, ” Let’s think about this.” When we are anxious or worried about something, it’s not happening yet. It’s something in the future. So, I asked her, “What is happening right now, in this moment, causing you to feel this way?” Nothing was happening. She hadn’t failed the class. The class was difficult, yes. But, it was her thoughts about the class that was torturing her. I reminded her that with that line of thinking, she would never be able to pass the class. Her mind would be clouded and she wouldn’t be able to conquer this difficult task that was in front of her. I suggested that she shift her thoughts from worrying about failing the class to imagining how it would feel if she did pass this class. What would it feel like if she got a “B” (that’s what she said she would be happy with) in this class? Heck, since we are using our imaginations and anything is possible, what if she got an “A”? But, since it has to be believable, let’s keep imagining the “B”. (Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth ~ Mark 9:23.) Just thinking about it differently, caused her to feel better about it, and caused her to be able to have a little more clarity on what steps she could take to make it happen. – Our THOUGHTS cause our FEELINGS and our FEELINGS cause our ACTIONS and our ACTIONS cause our RESULTS. She is not at the mercy of that situation. She is at the mercy of her thoughts about the situation and the actions she takes. She chose to think empowered thoughts and is now taking positive action. She called me today and told me she made two “B’s” on her last two quizzes. She said she is going to aim for that “A” now.
You see, that’s why you hear that the acronym for fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real.” It’s not happening now.
One of my very favorite mentors, Mary Morrissey, taught me that when fear shows up we can pause those thoughts and ask ourselves these questions:
- Is it happening now? (What my daughter feared was failing – it wasn’t happening – class had just started. She had the power to think thoughts of passing the class and doing well. Those thoughts made her feel much better and allowed her to be creative about how to accomplish that task.)
- Do I want it to happen? (If she continued thinking those fear thoughts, she would have clouded her thinking and would most likely have caused it to happen. She wouldn’t have had clarity on what actions to take. We have the power to change our thoughts and to think about what we DO want to happen.)
- What steps can I take to be sure that it doesn’t happen? (Empower yourself with the solution. What step can I take, where I am, with what I have?)
If we want to change our results, we must first change the way we think. Positive thoughts seem to breed more positive thoughts. Negative thoughts seem to breed more negative thoughts. We have a part of us that can notice what we are thinking about. In psychology they call that part of us “The Observer Self.” When we notice our thoughts aren’t serving us, we can replace them with thoughts that do. One way to know what you are thinking, is to notice how you are feeling. If you are feeling bad, check your thoughts. What are you thinking?
The good news is that it’s an inside out job. Thank goodness our happiness does not depend on the people and circumstances around us. The bottom line is, if we don’t like our results, we have the power to change them and it begins with our thoughts. — I get it though — There’s more to it than just thinking positive thoughts. We have strong internal belief systems that we’ve “bought into” about ourselves. We will discuss why we feel the way we do about ourselves and how to improve our self image (self worth) in the next blog. But for now, we can take the first step. We can notice what we are thinking, and we can begin re-patterning negative thoughts. Then we are able to take the action required to create better results. SO…Ready to get started? If so…think about this: What do you love about today? What’s good in your life? What would you love to see happen in your life in the next week, the next month, the next year? Finally, what are you thankful for now, today, in this moment, that is already happening?
What do you think? Can you change the results in your life? “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.” ~Henry Ford