What a person focuses on increases. Most of us have heard this truism before. But do we act on it? Example: If I think about how my day is rotten, I will unconsciously keep taking notice of everything that supports my theory. We always find evidence to back up our thoughts, because we like to be right.
While its good to self-improve there is another option besides working on our negative traits. We might want to toy with an alternative approach because, again, what we focus on increases.
Let’s use another example: guilt. Getting rid of guilt is not always accomplished by talking about our guilt or reading a book about it. In fact, we may find even more reasons to be or feel guilty in those processes.
When guilt overpowers us– we do not need to rehearse all our faults, keep rehashing them, confess them over and over to whomever will listen. Venting rarely gets rid of guilt. At best we might feel like one other person knows our truth and still loves us. Otherwise it just repeats what is floating or circling in our head and stirs up more of the same emotions.
The alternate way, would be to look at our innocence. Once we have confessed our guilt to God (the one who matters most) we need to accept His total / radical forgiveness.
We may owe apologies to others, or to replace things broken or taken. We may have to earn someone’s trust back. But in God’s eyes we are 100% forgiven.
We do not need to continue to hang our heads. Instead we hold our heads up and get busy finding the mistakes we have made. We live the new positive ways: seeing how we can make amends and make the world & lives around us better one day at a time. We can’t do this is we neurotically keep kicking ourselves for our mistakes. Guilt is useful to point out a lesson to be learned from or a bad choice. That is it. Wallowing in guilt does not 1) change the past, 2) rebuild our lives, or 3) make us better people.
Ask anyone with an addiction to food, sex, gambling, theft etc., If someone stumbles what do they first think when guilt hits? “well I blew it” (guilt) I might as well keep going in this addiction. I’ve already messed up” (guilt). Guilt fosters more guilt.
The one who walks in grace though thinks “wow, I blew it (guilt) but forgiveness is mine for the asking and I can turn this around. I can start my day over. One mistake does not have to snowball into self-implosion (freedom through change of perspective).
If forgiveness and restart are our options why would we waste hours or years stuck in the guilt phase which paralyzes us and prevents straightening the issue out.
This also works for anger. If I am angry is my dwelling on what ticked me off actually going to do anything? Usually not. But if I force myself to look at joy the anger will dissipate. I can take stock of all the happy things and things I appreciate in my life. I can be grateful. If I stay focused on those things long enough, my heart will soften and I will begin to enjoy my day. Some days this will take longer than others but it will happen.
When you are experiencing negative emotions ask yourself “What thoughts would bring me peace right now?
Jealousy– think about all that you DO have
Hatred- think about about what / who you love
Anxiety– think thought which have a calming effect on you— like thoughts of sitting in the mountains or at the beach listening to the waves. Or think of something you can do later in the day which you look fwd to and try to stay focused on it.
Usually all it take is the opposite line of thinking to pull us out of the bad mood. Yet, we must want to get out of the mood.
Until Next Time~
Now take a moment and tell me, in the comments, what healthy thoughts or activities pull you out of negative emotions.