The other night, I found myself laying awake worrying about things. Instead of conveniently scrolling along in a nice neat list, my mental worry list is more like a spider web. As I think about one thing I must do, it leads to two or three more things that go along with it, and so on, in never-ending circles. My problems are not terrible – I really have no reason to complain. It’s just the usual overload of paperwork, bills to pay, dirty house, grass that must be mowed, work deadlines, logistics, and big decisions to make about where our family goes next (a constant challenge for military families).
So, as I was laying there going around and around my spider web, I took a moment to step outside my head and notice what I was doing. The tone of my thoughts was all negative: poor poor me. So, I forced myself to rephrase everything. Instead of thinking,”I don’t have time to do these pages – I’ll never get them done in time,” I thought, “I got one good page done today and I’ll make another one tomorrow.” Instead of fretting about all the time I spend driving my teenage daughter to/from school and gymnastics, I thought about how she talks to me the whole time. If I weren’t driving her, I may not get a chance to hear all about her day, or her plans for her next art project, or the funny things that her friends said. When she gets her driver’s license, I’ll have more time for myself but less with her, so I should really be enjoying these moments!
I took everything that was pestering me and put a positive twist on it, and I felt much better. In all the places where I felt self-doubt (“Will anybody like this?” or “Am I doing the right thing?”), I decided to just concentrate on how I felt about doing my work or the decisions I make. I have no control over what other people think, and I can virtually guarantee that there will always be someone who disagrees with me. So, it’s better to just think joyful thoughts (“I like doing this. It’s interesting!”) and not sap the energy from my work. The spider web is still there in my head, but now it’s all sparkly with dewdrops in the morning sun (how’s that for positive spin?).
My husband took a training course once where the instructor demonstrated the amazing power of positive vs. negative thoughts. He had people stand up and hold their arms out to their sides as firmly as possible. The instructor first instructed the volunteers to announce positive things about themselves (“I’m strong. I can do anything.”) while he pushed down on their arms and they resisted. Then he had them switch to negative statements (“I’m weak, I never do anything right.”) while he pushed down on their arms with identical force. The difference was remarkable and apparent to everyone in the room. It was much much harder to hold up their arms while repeating the negative statements, even if they didn’t personally believe what they were saying. Just the act of saying negative words was enough to weaken the strongest among them.
One of my favorite success gurus, Orison Swett Marden, said it well: “All we are, or have been, or ever will be, comes from the quality and force of our thinking.”
I’m going to write those words on a card to post above my kitchen sink. Even though I KNOW about the power of positive thinking, it’s easy to forget when life piles on. So, I urge you to do it. Write those words somewhere you will see them everyday and find a way to turn all your negatives to positives. You ARE strong. Make it happen!