Think Your Life to Be Whatever You Want It to Be
I want to start this post off being brutally honest: this post may not be for everyone. In fact, this post may only be for me. God knows I need to write it...
Let's talk about who this post isn't for:
- If you've never struggled with an all-consuming negative thought, this post isn't for you.
- If you have never encountered depression or anxiety, even in the slightest form, this post isn't for you.
- If you've never cried out of frustration or anger with yourself or how you've acted, this post isn't for you.
- If you've never tried to sabotage a relationship or opportunity out of fear of rejection or getting hurt, this post is definitely not for you.
Now that we've discussed that, let's talk about who it's for:
- If you are sick of feeling frustrated and confused with the way you perceive things, this post is for you.
- If you have dealt with anxious thoughts and self-sabotaging thoughts for too long, this post is for you.
- If you are tired of feeling sorry for yourself for struggling with something you want out of, this post is most certainly for you.
I, for one, am all three of those things listed above. Can I be honest with you? That's one of the reasons I took a little bit of a hiatus from Notes in My Drawer for about a month. I felt a little hypocritical telling people how to "live their best lives", when I was still struggling to even find out what that meant for me.
I think sometimes I'm too hard on myself. I'm only twenty-three years old and I expect myself to have it all together - that's just not practical. I'm still learning, I'm still adapting, still adjusting. And so are you. You should never feel bad about the time it takes you to grow into the person you were created to be. Can I be honest? I'm not sure any of us will ever fully "arrive". And I hope we don't. I hope we're always learning, always adapting, always adjusting.
Anyway, back to the point...
I titled this "Think Your Life Into Whatever You Want It To Be" for a reason. It has a double meaning. If you are unhappy, you can change that with your thoughts. But if you are looking for a reason to become unhappy, or to worry, or to doubt, or to feel anxious, upset, angry, depressed - you can certainly make that happen with your thoughts too.
I have watched as I have not taken control of my thoughts, and instead: they have taken control of me. I have found myself thinking such negative thoughts, and those thoughts turned into thought patterns, and like poison, they crept into my heart, and then into my words, and all of a sudden I found myself living a poison-filled, unhealthy, negative life.
It's time for a change.
Paul says in the book of Acts, "I think myself happy." This leads me to believe a few things: I am no one special. Sadness, depression, anxiety? They can strike anybody. They can attack anybody. I am not immune. It rains on the just and the unjust. The one thing I am in control of, though? My reaction. I can think my life to be whatever I want it to be.
The funny thing is...I feel like it takes more effort to think yourself unhappy than it does to think yourself happy? (Agree or disagree? Leave a comment below, I'm genuinely curious...)
I'm all about practicality and clarity. I don't just expect to realize I have a problem, and think it'll go away without addressing it. The thing about unhealthy thought patterns is, after a while, it's extremely difficult to decipher what is your unhealthy thought, and what is reality. I've found myself thinking some pretty irrational thoughts, but my fear and my thought patterns convinced me they were real. I don't want to live that life anymore. Do you?
Let's get rid of those thoughts.
You need to ask yourself a question when you think a thought that is negative.
- Is this my fear talking?
The answer will most likely be yes. If you answer "maybe", what evidence supports that question? What evidence works against that question? You will most likely find more evidence working against your fear, than for your fear. And that's how you know: my fear is trying to cripple me into this negative thought pattern.
- Why am I thinking this thought?
The reason we think a lot of our negative thoughts is fear. That's what it boils down to. Fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, fear of hurt. If you can acknowledge that root of fear at all in your negative thought patterns, which I think you will, you're on the right track.
- Write down that thought, then write down a healthy thought that negates the negative one.
It could be a thought as simple as "I am not qualified for my new job." Yep, that's pretty real. Right? Now write down a thought that nullifies that statement. "They would not hire me if I were not qualified. Anything I don't know, I will learn." I mean, honestly, how simple is that...
The brain is such a fragile thing, but it's teachable, and can be rewired. I am no psychologist (girl, shoot. I barely passed AP Psych). But I do know from experience that you can change your thought patterns. I have seen it done, I have experienced it firsthand, and I have heard it from several different people who work in the psychology field.
The more you recognize your negative thoughts, the quicker it will be for you to replace them with positive thoughts. But it's not just a one and done type of situation.
You have to be vigilant.
You have to replace every negative thought with a positive one. You have to write it down. You have to be vocal about it. Say the positive thought out loud. It's been said that the tongue is the most powerful member of the body, and yes - it is...but what controls your tongue? Your mind. Your mind is so fragile, yet holds so much power.
You cannot dwell.
I am the queen of dwelling on negative thoughts. I am not one for a woe-is-me, pity party. But I can dwell on thinking myself on a downward spiral. "Ugh I shouldn't have said that. Oh God, what if he/she thought I meant something else? This isn't going to be good for our friendship. What if he/she decides that I'm too much to handle and starts pulling away from me? Can I live my life without them? I mean I don't really want to... but could I if I had to? What if I say something to fix it? No, but then they'll really think I'm being too much. STOP BEING TOO MUCH."
Does any of that sound familiar? You can replace the "friendship" part with anything: a job opportunity, a romantic relationship, even a simple conversation with a family member or stranger. It could be the way you view yourself physically, your lack of finances, your unhealthy habits, anything. You can think negative about anything if you allow yourself to. There will always be an opportunity.
On the flip side?
There's always an equal opportunity for positive thoughts. Even as I type that I feel a weight lift off of me. I can think myself healthy. (You know it's possible to literally think yourself physically ill? Your thoughts hold so much power...have I made my point yet?) You can think yourself into a positive, lasting state of mind.
I think what point I'm trying to get across - and what I'm still trying to learn myself - is this:
You don't have to life a negative, unhealthy thought-filled lifestyle.
You can refocus your energy and thoughts into other things. No, you cannot control what happens to you but you can control how you react, and your thought process after the fact. It's possible.
I understand what it's like to allow your thoughts to lead you down a path of depression, anxiety, and yes - even suicidal thoughts. Your thoughts can tell you that you have no hope, they can make you believe you'll never amount to anything - but only if you allow them to. Obviously, there are times when professional help is needed - I am not discrediting that. But for those everyday thoughts that try to tear you down, you can overcome. It is possible.
Just wanted to encourage someone today in that. I needed to write it just as much as someone else needs to read it, because I am still in the very-early stages of healing from unhealthy thought patterns. But this is what I have found to work for me so far. Think yourself happy. Think your life to be whatever you want it to be - and I hope you think it to be something wonderful, healthy, and beautiful.
Do you struggle with any of the things listed above? I'd love to chat. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org