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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Transforming My Thoughts Changed My Life



Hard times hit us all, at one point or another. Getting lost in how deprived I am will cause me to lose focus on what really matters. Does this happen to you? I believe that it's my choice to either wallow in pity or find a way to manage a situation. When I am faced with difficulties, small or large, I tell myself that I will find a reasonable solution because I am smart and capable. 

Our highly-commercialistic culture really doesn't support an individual's ingenuity in dealing with minor adversity. You got a problem? Great, we have just the solution for only $99.95.  From the outside looking in, you would think that solutions are only a matter of throwing money at a problem. The drawback to this line of thinking is that after the new XYZ has been purchased, one still lacks emotional resilience to adversity, you know, that thing inside that tells us we can handle the bad stuff. However, it doesn't need to be this way.

When I'm feeling deprived because I don't have the latest fashion, smartphone, or restaurant meal, I remind myself of what we are doing. For example, we are being "smart" to save for our future. When I hear the voice in my head telling me, "I sure wish I could grab a coffee at Top Pot when I go for my morning walk," I change the inner dialogue to "isn't it clever of me to fix a thermos of coffee to take to the beach." When the zipper has pulled away from the strip of fabric on my favorite jacket, at first I whine, "why now when I have so much to do?" After that initial moment, I try to quickly change my outlook to something like this: "I am capable. I am blessed with sewing skills so I can repair my favorite jacket and enjoy it for many more years." 



"I tell myself that I will find a reasonable solution because I am smart and capable."


But how does one leave the wallowing behind -- it can be such a nasty habit, don't you think? I haven't always been able to see my blessings. This simply did not come naturally to me. I have found that learning to shift my thoughts from the negative to the positive is a skill that requires practice. I have to remind myself, daily, to try and see situations differently. To help this along, I try to surround myself with positive-minded people. I also make time each morning to consider my blessings. It's hard work but well worth the trouble. Training my brain to see the upside of my circumstances allows more thought-time to go toward the pleasant happenings in my life.

Making this mind-shift is a part of gratitude and seeing the glass as half-full. When we can find the thing for which we are grateful in a difficult situation, our gratitude frees us to approach life with joy and a sense of abundance, despite apparent lack. My favorite jacket is my favorite for a good reason. It fits like no other jacket I've owned. When I focus on how it always needs repairs, all I see is the fault. But when I shift my thinking to gratitude for the skills to repair it, I see how much I love that old thing. 

Maybe you have a "jacket" that constantly needs repairs. Maybe your "jacket" is a favorite old chair, sweater, or cookbook. We're "smart" to take care of our belongings instead of rushing out to replace them when they show their age. Not only do we get to enjoy cherished belongings for more years, but the money saved can be put toward important goals.



My mantra -- I am smart. I am capable. I am blessed with skills and abilities. What I am not, is deprived. Because I can see this, the hurdles of life are not unduly burdensome. Instead, the shift in thinking is empowering, as I no longer feel that I am the victim of a bad circumstance.

I'm still a work in progress. How about you? Do you tend to see the glass half-empty or half-full? What situations have you been able to see in a more positive light?



14 comments:

Live and Learn said...

When I have conscious thought, I am a half-full person, but I have many negative/anxious thoughts under the surface. Hearing those thoughts is a very difficult thing indeed, no matter what the subject. Sometimes they are so ingrained, we don't even realize that we have them. Listening to our inner dialog and changing it is a very arduous task. But starting the day and ending the day by counting our blessings as you do is a very good first step.

ruthie said...

What a great thought for today. Thank you Lili. We all have trials and they could become all consuming if we let them. Sometimes, I too, spend too much time fretting about them. I needed that reminder. My jacket that needs repairing might be a daughter that is struggling and I have the skills to help her fix it. We all have things that need fixed in our lives. I guess life is about handling these problems.

Anonymous said...

If one's idea of deprivation is not having the latest smartphone, a daily Starbucks, and the newest fashions, then I think that is what is commonly called "first world problems" today. And yes, I imagine that many of us are guilty of this. Everything is certainly relative.

When I taught high school in Eastern Europe, I saw plenty of cheerful teens who rotated, at most, 2 sets of clothing. They didn't own any mobile devices. Their large families often lived in one-bedroom apartments. In spite of that, those kids were well-adjusted, happy and unspoiled. It was a real eye opener for me and really put things in perspective. Most of us here live with much, much more than I ever saw over there.

Bernadette

Anonymous said...

I needed to read this today. Thank you so much.

Normally, I'm a glass half-full person. I can kind of relate to what Live and Learn said about having anxious thoughts under the surface. Everyone has 'ups and downs' in life. It seems my family has been all 'downs' since last fall. I think I'm struggling to stay positive more than any other time I can remember.

In this post, I like what you said about making time each morning to look for the positive, and count blessings. I've found I like to sleep more than I used to because when I'm asleep, I'm not aware of the stress and worry. Then I wake up, and negative thoughts rush in. I will start trying to count all of my blessings when I wake up. I know I have many blessings, they just get lost in negativity.

Have a blessed day, Lili.

Angie

Alice said...

Very good food for thought you have offered here!

I also want to feel sorry for myself sometimes but it doesn't help the situation at all so instead I tackle it and conquer it. This new one is medical bills. Way to many of them that are extremely large even with insurance and mostly they want them paid "upon receipt" which is impossible since it is a good chunk or our annual income. But I will find a way without going into collections I hope.

The other thing is the vehicle that is old and seems to always need a repair on this, that or the other thing. I felt like I was putting more into it than I should so we opted to upgrade. This was my "jacket" that just couldn't be fixed anymore. Sadly a week prior to this my youngest daughter had her car deemed unsafe so we had to help her replace her car which was her "jacket" and mine too!

But I don't feel like I'm floundering either. I know who is in charge and it's not me! He's got me covered!

Alice

Lili said...

Live and Learn said...
When I have conscious thought, I am a half-full person, but I have many negative/anxious thoughts under the surface. Hearing those thoughts is a very difficult thing indeed, no matter what the subject. Sometimes they are so ingrained, we don't even realize that we have them. Listening to our inner dialog and changing it is a very arduous task. But starting the day and ending the day by counting our blessings as you do is a very good first step.


Hi Live and Learn,
Past a certain age, I think many of us feel the negativity or anxiety just under the surface. For me, it's a constant battle to keep the negativity at bay. Thinking of the ways that I am blessed has the potential to change how my day goes.
Have a great day, Live and Learn!

Lili said...

ruthie said...
What a great thought for today. Thank you Lili. We all have trials and they could become all consuming if we let them. Sometimes, I too, spend too much time fretting about them. I needed that reminder. My jacket that needs repairing might be a daughter that is struggling and I have the skills to help her fix it. We all have things that need fixed in our lives. I guess life is about handling these problems.


Hi Ruthie,
You're so right. While I would love to float from mountain top to mountain top, a good part of my life is spent in the valley. Helping each other, as you are doing for your daughter, takes some of the sting out of life's pain.
Have a lovely day, Ruthie.

Lili said...

Bernadette said...
If one's idea of deprivation is not having the latest smartphone, a daily Starbucks, and the newest fashions, then I think that is what is commonly called "first world problems" today. And yes, I imagine that many of us are guilty of this. Everything is certainly relative.

When I taught high school in Eastern Europe, I saw plenty of cheerful teens who rotated, at most, 2 sets of clothing. They didn't own any mobile devices. Their large families often lived in one-bedroom apartments. In spite of that, those kids were well-adjusted, happy and unspoiled. It was a real eye opener for me and really put things in perspective. Most of us here live with much, much more than I ever saw over there.


Hi Bernadette,
Your observations are piercing. Sometimes, really looking around the world that isn't in our backyard gives us the perspective that we need. First world problems, indeed.
Thank you for sharing your experiences, Bernadette!

Lili said...

Angie said...
I needed to read this today. Thank you so much.

Normally, I'm a glass half-full person. I can kind of relate to what Live and Learn said about having anxious thoughts under the surface. Everyone has 'ups and downs' in life. It seems my family has been all 'downs' since last fall. I think I'm struggling to stay positive more than any other time I can remember.

In this post, I like what you said about making time each morning to look for the positive, and count blessings. I've found I like to sleep more than I used to because when I'm asleep, I'm not aware of the stress and worry. Then I wake up, and negative thoughts rush in. I will start trying to count all of my blessings when I wake up. I know I have many blessings, they just get lost in negativity.

Have a blessed day, Lili.


Hi Angie,
I'm so sorry that your family has had to endure this difficult period. It can be exhausting. And I so relate to what you said about just wanting to sleep, because when you're asleep, you aren't aware of the problems. I've had many days when I eagerly looked forward to going to bed, even though it was mid-afternoon and I wasn't sleepy. I just felt like I needed to escape my troubles. These are times that I become aware that I most need to show kindness to myself and those around me.
Wishing you a blessed day, as well, Angie.

Lili said...

Alice said...
Very good food for thought you have offered here!

I also want to feel sorry for myself sometimes but it doesn't help the situation at all so instead I tackle it and conquer it. This new one is medical bills. Way to many of them that are extremely large even with insurance and mostly they want them paid "upon receipt" which is impossible since it is a good chunk or our annual income. But I will find a way without going into collections I hope.

The other thing is the vehicle that is old and seems to always need a repair on this, that or the other thing. I felt like I was putting more into it than I should so we opted to upgrade. This was my "jacket" that just couldn't be fixed anymore. Sadly a week prior to this my youngest daughter had her car deemed unsafe so we had to help her replace her car which was her "jacket" and mine too!

But I don't feel like I'm floundering either. I know who is in charge and it's not me! He's got me covered!


Hi Alice,
There are times when the medicals bills just seem to never end. I so believe that God will show you how to manage this expense.
With upgrading your car, you likely did the right thing. I've struggled with this one, too. Our car has needed some expensive repairs in the past year. Each time we pay for another repair, I wonder if we wouldn't be better off getting a new car. Then we have it fixed and I feel a certain obligation to continue driving it, because after all, we've just put all of that money into it. And the cycle just keeps repeating. But, you're right -- we do know who is in charge. That thought alone does help with anxiety and pressure to get it all right.
Have a beautiful day, Alice!

Matt Macduff Family said...

I've been working on changing my thinking around. I tend to be a negative person, but I'm trying to deliberately change the way I think about things.

I can relate to the car issues. Every time I think I've got a little earmarked to squirrel away, we seem to have another car breakdown and the money gets used. The headache of finding a decent used car in our price range seems overwhelming, so we just continue to repair the vehicles we have. I get down about it, but then I remind myself how blessed I am--plenty of food in our storage, a heated house with running appliances, a comfy bed to sleep in & family & friends who love me. Melissa

Lili said...

Melissa said...
I've been working on changing my thinking around. I tend to be a negative person, but I'm trying to deliberately change the way I think about things.

I can relate to the car issues. Every time I think I've got a little earmarked to squirrel away, we seem to have another car breakdown and the money gets used. The headache of finding a decent used car in our price range seems overwhelming, so we just continue to repair the vehicles we have. I get down about it, but then I remind myself how blessed I am--plenty of food in our storage, a heated house with running appliances, a comfy bed to sleep in & family & friends who love me.


Hi Melissa,
I think that you're on the right path, to be aware of your natural tendencies, then to be working to change how you view situations. This is me, too.
We are both very blessed. Than you for pointing out just how blessed we are!
Have a lovely evening, Melissa!

Kris said...

Boy, can I relate to this! I find that when life is "normal"--everyday stresses rather than major life events--I am a glass-half-full person. When difficult circumstances keep piling up and piling up, however, it's a different story. Last year was such a year for me. I got to the point where I went to a counselor and went on antidepressants. Both of those were SO helpful for me--the meds helped my moods stay more stable and the counselor encouraged/validated me and prodded me in areas where I needed to make some changes. Through it all, I found little blessings from God in the most unexpected places--friends keeping tabs on me, a worker at my mom's assisted living helping take care of her cat to give me a breather .... I have found that now that life has calmed down, I am more aware of the kindnesses of others and of where I can try to encourage those who I notice are struggling. Which, as you said, Lili, is a form of changing my mindset. :)

Lili said...

Kris said...
Boy, can I relate to this! I find that when life is "normal"--everyday stresses rather than major life events--I am a glass-half-full person. When difficult circumstances keep piling up and piling up, however, it's a different story. Last year was such a year for me. I got to the point where I went to a counselor and went on antidepressants. Both of those were SO helpful for me--the meds helped my moods stay more stable and the counselor encouraged/validated me and prodded me in areas where I needed to make some changes. Through it all, I found little blessings from God in the most unexpected places--friends keeping tabs on me, a worker at my mom's assisted living helping take care of her cat to give me a breather .... I have found that now that life has calmed down, I am more aware of the kindnesses of others and of where I can try to encourage those who I notice are struggling. Which, as you said, Lili, is a form of changing my mindset. :)


Hi Kris,
I can't tell you how sorry I am that your life felt so difficult last year. I feel grateful for you that you had people around you that were able to encourage you. When we notice the good around us, we add a drop at a time to our glasses. I'd like to get to the point where I don't just see my glass as half-full, but I see it as overflowing. And I wish the same for you.
Have a lovely evening, Kris!

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