Mind Your Mind
It’s no secret that your thoughts greatly shape your life. Lately I’ve been obsessing over my future. What does it look? Who’s there? Are my seeds going to yield a harvest? What about my prayers? Will they be answered (with a yes and a right now)? When is this future coming to fruition and won’t it hurry up already?! You’d think the life I live now was some horrible travesty. But it’s not. It’s a blessed life. I have great family who love me dearly. My mom, sister, and I instant message almost daily. I have an amazing church family who pray for and with me. I’ve traveled the world from Asia to South America to Europe. I’m healthy. I’m whole. I live as I choose. Life is good.
But I have this nearly compulsive problem – I want the future to be better. WAY BETTER!
“Thoughts have power; thoughts are energy. And you can make your world or break it by your own thinking.” – Susan L. Taylor
So I’m always obsessing over it. My mind gets boggled down in the what ifs and the what if nots. I wish someone would just tell me my future or prophesy over me. You know how the woman told Kandi (Real Housewives of Atlanta) that her husband was with her on the trip or the physic who told Kim (same show) she would have a son?
That’s what I want for me!!!
Even in my church people talk of prophesies or confirmation they’ve received. Ain’t nobody told me nothing!
So I have spent too much time as of late trying to figure out my future as if I were a physic. But I’m not. The weight of needing to know the unknowable has often gotten me feeling down. I cried yesterday. God – just tell me! What should I do? What should I have hope for? What should I let go of? Did I do something wrong? Pulease forgive me!
And for what? Why am I missing the peace and the joy in the moment? I’m a planner that’s why. I don’t do spontaneous very well. And I’m super analytical. I’m always trying to connect the dots. To some extent I’ll always be this way. It’s who I am and it serves me well in a lot of areas on my life.I will not miss out on the peace and joy in this moment. Click To Tweet
But it’s also the flaw I have to manage. The moment my desire to plan and map out my future steals my joy for today is the moment that things have gotten out of hand. It’s the moment I have to mind my mind.
If you do not manage your thoughts your life just isn’t going to be as peaceful or joyful as it could be. You’ll always be worrying about something. You’ll constantly be nitpicking at your flaws or deciding you don’t have what you want because you’re not good enough.
All the crazy thoughts will run through your head and throw a party if you let them.
“I am not my thoughts, emotions, sense perceptions, and experiences. I am not the content of my life. I am Life. I am the space in which all things happen. I am consciousness. I am the Now. I Am.” – Eckhart Tolle
So yesterday I gave myself a bit of a pity party. Today I was like, “Alright, time to move past this.” How? I aired out my thoughts and concerns. The reason that I obsess over my future is because I worry it won’t be what I want it to be. I’m yearning for more purpose, fulfillment, and contribution. But who is the current Charlene to dictate exactly what the future Charlene will want or need or enjoy? How do I know what will give her greater purpose, fulfillment, and contribution? I think I know – a family and a career that changes lives. But I don’t really know.
(And my life group leader says God probably wants me to get my desire for greater purpose and fulfillment from Him. She may be right.)
I’m a big believer in setting goals so in no way am I advocating to ditch the goal setting. I’m just saying that I’ve put a lot of stock in what my future HAS to look like when I’m not even there. I’m here in the present with you.
I never knew how much traveling and exploring the world would mean to me – until I started to travel. I’ve enjoyed upscale restaurants that I actually never even knew existed until my corporate career. I hands down love my church even though at one time I wouldn’t go to this church because I thought my pastor was just a motivational speaker (sorry, pastor!).
I could not have ordered my steps to this place in my life. Yet, I like this place in my life. Sometimes life gives you what you never knew you wanted. And though I’m setting goals and taking action toward those goals I have to have faith that my future will end up right where it’s supposed to be.
If you’ve been obsessing over some crazy, unnecessary, not-even-an-issue-right-now thoughts in your head try airing out your true concerns. Sometimes it helps just to think (or talk) through what’s going through your head. What are you really feeling? Where did that feeling come from? And what if none of that matters? What if all that matters is what is most amazing about you and your life right now?
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Note how those thoughts make you feel. How do they align with your beliefs about yourself, life or God. A lot of the times we know better. I tend to be a very optimistic person. But on the right day in the right mood all of what I believe and know to be true flies out the window.
If I let my thoughts dwell on what I want in the future (that I’m having a hard time connecting the dots on to see how it can happen) I’ll be miserable. I have to mind my own mind. I have to decide what matters in this moment and what doesn’t matter. I have to decide what thoughts are worthy of my time and which ones aren’t. I have to feed the thoughts that align with who I am, how I want to experience life, and what I want in my future. And likewise I have to starve the thoughts that make me feel less than in any way.Decide which thoughts are worthy of your time. Click To Tweet
I don’t know what self-defeating thoughts you may struggle with. I know that whatever they are you can conquer them. I also know that it’s not a once and done type of situation. No self-improvement is. You have to mind your mind all the time. Everyday. Several times a day.
“Mind” essentially means to pay attention to. Pay attention to your thoughts. Notice what you’re thinking. And when you find yourself tuned into the wrong station – the one that make you fearful, worried, depressed, hopeless, discouraged, insecure, sad, mad, bitter – change the channel.
“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson
Switch your thoughts. This may require mental strength and fortitude. Don’t you sometimes just want to dwell? It makes you feel like you’re doing something about it, right? Resist the urge to dwell on self-defeating thoughts. If it helps set a timer for 15 minutes in which you are allowed to dwell and sit in your self pity. When time’s up turn on your favorite song, pray, call up your silly friend who always makes you laugh, read, meditate, say affirmations or whatever will help you take your mind off of the negative thoughts. Just don’t drink alcohol or do drugs. That’s a recipe for developing a dependency. If you’re going to depend on something let it be Jesus or other feel good, positive stuff.
Practice switching negative thoughts to empowering or even neutral thoughts until it becomes second nature. Reduce the timer every so often to help you grow in your ability to limit self defeating thoughts.
You may also trying deciding how you’d prefer to feel in this moment. If you’re feeling discouraged you may decide you’d prefer to feel encouraged. Maybe you want to feel at peace. Think new thoughts that align with how you want to feel. If no new thoughts come to you consume material that can help. You can find almost anything on YouTube. Or Google, “How to feel ______”.
“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius
Another definition of mind is to “regard as important; feel concern about.” Regard your thoughts as an important part of your life. Per the Tolle quote above you are not your thoughts but your thoughts do impact you. The idea is to not judge your thoughts or yourself for having them and at the same time replace or eradicate negative thoughts as soon as possible.
There’s a story about a frog competition. A bunch of frogs were racing to the top of a tall tower. The crowd below watching onw went from cheering them on to yelling at them to quit. “It’s too tall”, they said. One by one frogs were dropping like flies. Except one little frog kept climbing and climbing. This little guy reached the top of the tower. He won the competition. When asked why he didn’t let the discouragement from the crowd discourage him he said, “I’m deaf. I thought they were cheering me on.”
“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” – Peace Pilgrim
Your thoughts are important. They influence how you feel, how you act, what you will or won’t do. Again, your thoughts shape your life. The frog who thought he was being cheered on succeeded. The frogs who let the naysayers plant fear in their mind quit. Sometimes you are your own naysayer. You will hear your own thoughts about you and your life more than you will hear anybody else’s thoughts. You have to be intentional about your own thoughts and managing against the not so good ones. Strive to put the right thoughts in your head.
Mind your mind.