Stinking Thinking: Special Guest Episode

Hey, ladies! It’s a surprise bonus episode! My three-year-old, Keegan chose the topic for this episode, and I thought you all may enjoy.

 

Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

 

What suggestions do you have for changing the stinking thinking? What stinking thinking invades your thoughts?

Come to the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group to discuss!

The Happiest Man Alive: How to be Happy!

Are you happy? I mean really happy? What thoughts or situations stand in the way of you being happy more often? About a year or so ago, I came across an article about a Tibetan Buddhist monk named Matthieu Ricard. After taking part in a 12 year brain study that focused on meditation and compassion, Mr. Ricard has been referred to as the world’s happiest man. You can read more here.

Mr. Ricard’s primary advice is to stop thinking only about yourself. He says the key to happiness is altruism. The reason he gives is that “thinking about yourself and how to make things better for yourself all the time is exhausting and stressful, and it ultimately leads to unhappiness.” It makes sense to me!

Basically, your goal is to not be selfish. As human individuals, it is in our nature to be selfish. We see the world around us from our own unique, limited perspective and unless we make a conscious effort to try to see things from another person’s point of view and try to put the needs of others first, we will continue to be selfish.

Scripture talks a great deal about being more like Christ, and about how to have a healthy relationship with God. Scripture says that God is love (1 John 4:8), and it also says that love, among many other qualities, is not self-seeking (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). If we are striving to be more Christlike, we need to be focusing on not being so self-involved. It was when I realized that sin is basically being selfish (putting selfish wants before God’s desire) that I had a more clear picture of a healthy relationship with God and what sin actually means. In fact, the first book I wrote was on this very topic… How love isn’t selfish, and what we can learn about God’s love through human relationships.

Going back to the advice from Mr. Ricard, He suggests to train your mind as if you were training for running a marathon. As a therapist, I completely agree. I frequently reference Philippians 4:8 because it backs up the premise of so much of what I discuss in therapy sessions. Where we choose to focus our thinking determines our emotions and behavior as well. We’ve talked in previous posts about changing the channel from stinking thinking and choosing to focus on truth and what is more helpful and healthy. That takes much practice, as would training for a marathon. Mr. Ricard does this through meditation. One specific thing he says to do is to spend 15 continuous minutes each day thinking happy thoughts.

Philippians 4:8 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Make positive thinking – specifically, thinking about helping others and being compassionate – a habit.

To create thinking habits, take the same approach you would take to change other habits too. Increase awareness of the habit, make efforts to stop and replace the habit as soon as you catch it (even if it is after the fact), and keep practicing. For more ideas on changing your thinking habits, revisit the post, 6 Barriers to Wellness (and how to overcome them).

Be sure to visit our Every Day Incredible Ladies Facebook group to share your ideas on making altruistic thinking a habit!

 

“I don’t need to talk about me.” Taking Time for Emotional Self-Care

In a recent conversation with a friend in a profession of helping others, the topic of her health and stressors arose. When I encouraged her to talk to me about how she was feeling, she responded, “I don’t need to talk about me.”

Have you ever said that to others?

“I don’t need to talk about me, but I’m concerned about (fill in the name).”
“I know I need to work on my own health… but I don’t need to talk about me.”
“Right now, I’m more concerned about getting help for my kids than talking about me.”
“I know my job is mentally draining, but I don’t need to talk about me.”
“I need to be strong for them right now.”
“I know I’m on the verge of a breakdown, but I don’t need to talk about me.”
“The grief affects me more than I let on, but I don’t need to talk about me.”

What is your version?

There’s a term for avoiding talking about what is bothering us. It’s often called “stuffing,” or “bottling up” emotions.

If you want a mental picture of what this may look like, imagine a water balloon. Balloons are flexible, resilient, relatively sturdy, and can hold more than they appear to be capable of holding at first sight. HOWEVER. You can’t just keep filling and keep filling and keep filling a balloon without expecting it to burst. You have to let a little (or a lot) out before fitting the lip back over the spout to add more water.

Likewise, the human mind and body were not designed for continual “stuffing.” We are relational beings. Telling our stories can be immensely beneficial to our mental and emotional processing, as well as beneficial to one another.

When we are among fellow believers, sharing our struggles gives us opportunity to help one another focus on God’s truth through prayer and Biblical focus. When we are struggling, the temptation to fall into negative thinking can have very destructive results. We develop habits in our thinking, whether positive or negative. The world tells us to focus on the worries and the sadness and loneliness, and thoughts that we are not enough. Scripture gives us a much different focus.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

 

When I first stepped into the world of blogging, the purpose was to provide updates to friends and family during a very dark, painful period of life. One of our unborn twins had been diagnosed with a fatal birth defect. I decided early on, in my grief, that I needed to be open and honest about what I was going through because I knew others could relate and I believed that if I could share how I saw God working through our painful experience, it could bring comfort to them.

What I found was that, as I got into the habit of ending each post with scripture and some truth about God, or some thought about how God was providing what we needed (even if it wasn’t what we wanted), it helped me move forward in the grieving process. It helped me grow

I always felt incredibly blessed when others would comment and let me know that our story was comforting to them… feeling that there was a purpose in our struggle, and that I had a mission because of our pain helped bring me healing. It kept me moving forward, even when I felt like giving up.

I realized that had I kept my emotions and thoughts to myself and distracted myself with other things, I would have missed out on not only the opportunity to comfort others with the comfort God was giving me, but I also would have missed out on so much of the growth and healing that I know God wanted for me.

Yes, God allows the struggles. Sometimes our choices create them, sometimes they just happen, but it’s how we handle them that makes all the difference. How we handle those struggles can make or break us. We will ALL have struggles… that’s a given.

Do you have a close, Christian friend or spouse? Whether you do or don’t, do you take those thoughts and emotions to God in prayer? Believe me, it makes a difference. “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” How can you train yourself to do that if you’re not even acknowledging what your thoughts are? If you’re not catching and addressing the negative, unhelpful thoughts that creep in? Tucking them away doesn’t make them disappear, it just means they are going to bubble to the surface at the most inopportune time. 

In our Every Day Incredible facebook group, you have an excellent opportunity to get to know other ladies like you. Ladies who want to find a balance in life, find a purpose, and learn to have the incredible in life. While that group is public and you may not want to share some of your deepest thoughts and feelings (whatever your personal preference is, knowing that it is not confidential), our paid membership group is a bit more private, only being open to those who are invested in their own growth and in building those strong relationships with other Christian women.

What Stars and Pirates can Teach Us

20160122_143541_20160131155515202     Recently, I surprised my son by putting up glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of his room. As we discussed our observations about the stars, I would ask questions such as, “what do you notice about which stars are brighter?” I explained to him that the stars absorb the light so they can shine in the darkness. I quickly realized that the stars are an excellent analogy.

     When we are doing well, life is going along smoothly, and we have time on our hands, that is when focusing on caring for our emotional health is very, very important things to do. If we wait until times are dark, and we’re feeling overwhelmed with depression, grief, anxiety, or anger, we won’t have anything left in our emotional coping storehouse if we haven’t been working to build our supply. It is when we are doing well, that we need to be sure to address the painful or dark emotional experiences. It’s when we are doing well that it’s important to bring those dark emotions to the surface. We need to acknowledge them, name them, cope with them, and send them on their way.

     If we don’t address them, painful, unpleasant emotions have a way of simmering under the surface until the world around us gets dark, and then become terrifyingly suffocating as we sink into the darkness.

     Imagine, for a moment, being in a large body of water. In the daytime, you can see everything around you because the water is clear and everything is illuminated. When it gets dark or the water becomes murky, however, and you can’t see what may be lurking under the surface, it could be quite terrifying. It can be very tempting to make an effort to avoid  unpleasant emotions by “bottling them up,” or “stuffing them in.” Regardless of the phrase you use, the concept is the same. We basically drop those emotions under the surface, out of sight, only to haunt us later when our world once again becomes dark and we’re treading water.

     To give another analogy using my lovable four-year-old, after discussing the stars, we discussed a little stuffed Ty Monstaz creature he has had for a very long time. Patch, the Pirate Monstaz, had
been on a shelf and hadn’t been touched for quite some time. My little guy had not heard Patch’s voice for probably a year or more. What he remembered about the plushie pirate, though, was that when he was smaller, it scared him.

     Even though he was older, and knew the toy probably wouldn’t scare him like it once did, he was still acting like he was scared of it. Granted, it may have simply been an attempt to elicit a sympathetic reaction from mom, but that’s okay too. So, we had a discussion about how things may change as we get older, and it’s important to listen to it again, to see if it was maybe not as scary as he once thought it was. Eventually he agreed, and we did. 

     Once he heard it again, he decided that it wasn’t so scary after all, and has actually been fascinated by it once we googled it to try to figure out the gibberish he spoke before saying, “walk the
plank, mate!” (Hint: to create the gibberish, it seems the company flipped audio recordings backward…. fun!) 

It’s the same way with our emotions. What may seem scary to us at one time may actually not be as bad as we think once we lay it out to examine and deal with it. It’s interesting to note that avoiding anxiety-producing triggers actually serves to strengthen the anxiety rather than helping us cope with it. The more we put off doing something that scares us, the more we actually feel scared of whatever it is we are avoiding. Have you found that to be true? 

     Going back to the glow-in-the-dark stars, they are also a significant analogy of our spiritual health. We need to be soaking in the light when we can so when times are dark, we can still shine. As my son and I looked at the ceiling, it was obvious that the brightest star was the one that had been closest to the light source. It stood apart from all the other stars because it soaked up as much light as possible. Staying close to the light gave it the unique ability to shine brightly into the darkness and make a difference by bringing a smile to the face of a sweet little boy- and his momma.

Matthew 5:13-16

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a n hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

 

 

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