Put your worries, your fears, your concerns, your wishes all down on paper and then file it in the “Universe file.” Let this stuff go.
It is fascinating to watch the way different people deal with the same situations. Recently two friends of mine who work in the same company both lost their jobs. Their families and finances were similar. Both of them needed to provide for their families; each had to pay for the home he lived in. Both faced this dreaded news. One friend was devastated. He immediately panicked and was sucked into a fearful frenzy. He was sure that losing his job in a bad economy meant financial disaster.
The other friend felt an initial surge of worry but was determined to stay calm. He opened his mind to finding a hopeful way of moving forward. Gradually he was able to say, “Wow, this is interesting. I guess it was time for this job to end. I trust that another possibility will emerge.” He actually began to feel excitement stirring within him realizing that he could have a fresh start. He trusted that he would find a new opportunity.
Same circumstances. Opposite responses. Each viewpoint created a pattern of thought and emotion. Each of my friends could use his intellect to prove his perspective true. The one who was upset could point to a pile of monthly bills, a dwindling bank balance, and gloomy predictions of rising unemployment. There was plenty of evidence to support his belief that he was headed for tragedy. Was life going to be hard for him? He believed so and used his mind to search out every possible “fact” to support that belief system. The inevitable emotional state was anxiety and depression. He was confused; he found it hard to think clearly about next steps.
The other man also used his mind to find proof for his view. He admitted that he had always known he would leave this job someday. Deep down he had actually wanted to change jobs for a while. He saw that the severance pay the company was providing would give him a small window to look for another job. He remembered that God had always provided. When life closed one door, another one always opened. He would trust that this too would work out for the best. Looking at his situation in this light, he gained relief. He felt hope and peace. As he relaxed, all sorts of possibilities for action came to mind.
Our circumstances do not determine how we feel. Our thoughts about those circumstances control our inner world and frame our vision of the outer world. The view we choose also has a mental and emotional impact on the people close to us. Which of the above men would you prefer to be around?
We can either feel like victims to life’s circumstances or we can become the powerful victors who choose the way we will respond. In the words of Victor Frankel, Nazi concentration camp prisoner and author of the now classic book, ‘A Search for Meaning’: “The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. That last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.”
You may not be able to change some of the situations confronting you but you can change your thoughts about those conditions. If you are ready for change, the following ideas can support you in making inner shifts that will allow you to find comfort in life amidst hardship and even encourage those around you.
- Connect the dots between thoughts and feelings. Watch your thoughts about situations you encounter as you move through the day. Do you see how your thought choices either bring you suffering or peace? Take close note of the correlation between thought patterns and the resultant emotional states.
- Study happy people. Do you know people who are peaceful and optimistic? Are their choices increasing or decreasing their suffering? Find out how they maintain their perspective.
- Ask empowered questions. What perspective could I choose to help me feel better right now? Is there anything in this situation for which I can be grateful? What’s right (not wrong) about my life right now? What good am I missing in this situation? After you pose these questions, quiet your mind and allow God to shine new insights into your circumstances.
- Write a letter to God. Put your worries, your fears, your concerns, your wishes all down on paper and then file it in the “Universe file.” Let this stuff go. Don’t spend your valuable thought time on things over which you have no control. Leave these challenges in your Higher Power’s loving hands. You will feel better when you release your burdens.
- Let other people worry for you. Aren’t there plenty of people worrying? Choose at least one day each week and allow others to carry the worry load. The Divine actually invites us to give our cares over. To stay healthy you need a break from the mental and emotional burdens. Relax. Lighten up. Take care of you. You can’t help others if you are exhausted. Once you have experienced a day like this, consider the possibility that you could live worry free every day.
- Night and day, count your blessings. Make a gratitude list. Sit down. Discipline yourself to put on paper the good things in your life, even the tiniest. What blessings are you missing right now because your mind is spinning in negative, fearful spirals? Try to fill a whole sheet of paper. Then sit a moment and enjoy thinking about those good things. Celebrate. Let the gentle energy of gratitude soothe your heart and mind.
Food For Thought
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Editor’s note: Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija