There are many forms of bondage, but the self-inflicted shackles we lock ourselves in daily are ones that many suffer in and few have truly mastered the art of total escape from. From science to religion, many leaders will agree that thoughts and how we process and handle them will play a large role in our wellbeing. Many schools of religion teach the same story of as within so without (the way we feel will shape our world), and science will prove this theory if you research quantum physics and even touch on the string theory (perhaps a topic for another day). You can check out any of my previous posts to get a little taste of these theories in application.
Do you suffer daily from situational anxiety, depression, fear, doubt, etc? Negative thoughts will play on an endless loop if you allow them to. They are like a houseguest who pushes the limits to see how many resources they can squeeze out of you before you kick them off of your couch. They will silence the positive emotions that come because they are louder and cast a larger shadow. While raising my kids, I always told them how important it was to be cognizant of their emotions. I compared good and bad emotions to wolves. If you feed the bad wolf, it will grow and eat all of the food so the good wolf will starve. What we feed will grow, this is the very essence of addiction; and yes, negative thought patterns can lay claim to your peace just as much as any other addiction. If you give life to the bad, it will only grow, so giving attention to the bad will only bring more of that which is bad. If we make a conscious effort the bring in the good, we can use deductive reasoning to finish this story. Hint: the good guy wins! Any Christians in the house (if not, skip to the next paragraph). Proverbs 23:7 says “As a man thinks, so he is” and this literally changes moment to moment as thoughts fly in and out. You have got to make a conscious effort to shift the thoughts to what you want them to be! 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.’’ If you believe you are backed by the power of God, then you are not in this fight alone and you have weapons…what are these weapons? I’d like to think this is referring to the “Armor of God” which is referenced in Ephesians 6:14-17 “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Not a believer? That’s cool too. Laozi, often referred to as Lao Tzu who was hugely known for writing the Tao Te Ching and was also the founder of Taoism said:
If you are depressed, you are living in the past
If you are anxious, you are living in the future
If you are at peace, you are living in the present
Think about that for a moment. Now let’s see if we can put some of these things into practical application.
- Being depressed is living in the past; you are thinking about things which cannot be changed, so recognize that is what you are doing and make a conscious effort to stop. You can start by speaking truth about the situation to yourself (belt of truth). The truth is liberating, so use it to set yourself free. If there is a negative rut you are stuck in, make a conscious effort to dig yourself out of it and stop complaining that you are stuck. Be honest with yourself about about your efforts.
- Being anxious is living in the future; you are thinking of what is to come and it is freaking you out because again, it is out of your control. Release the need to control the outcome. Release the fear of the outcome (cover your feet with peace for the road ahead). If you are spiritual, meditate. If you are religious, pray. If you are neither, prepare. Do what you must to ensure a peaceful passage to your destination, but focus on releasing control. When you find anxiety welling up in your belly, stop what you are doing and ask yourself what you are afraid of, then work on letting that fear go and replace it with the truth. Remind yourself that you can not control the actions of others, you cannot manipulate the outcome, and you will only hurt yourself and those around you if you try. If that doesn’t work, redirect to anything healthy. Again, what you feed grows and what you starve dies, so make a conscious effort to feed the good.
- Being at peace is living in the present; dude, it really is. Do you know how amazing it feels to release control and surrender to the flow of life? If not, let me paint the picture: Have you ever been on an inner tube/lazy river ride at an amusement park or better yet on a REAL river? Yeah…just let go. Love your life as it is, where you are now, and you will begin to see life in a new light.
I had a conversation with my sister a couple weeks ago about retraining the brain and I used the analogy of crate training a puppy. I thought it was funny because she is a dog lover and I have literally NEVER crate trained a dog, but we always find ways to reach people when we want to connect. I explained to her that I had to retrain my entire brain to shut down my negative thought processes (I lived with them for such a long time, they were just a part of who I was…I was so toxic). I did this by training myself like I’d train a puppy. You’ve got to crate train your brain.
Start thinking potty thoughts…no no, back in the crate until you can act right. Peeing all over my freshly mopped floor with your negative thoughts 🙄🙄. The crate is different for everyone. My crate is a total redirect (singing usually) followed by a disconnect from technology (a nap) if that doesn’t work.
It’s so cliche but the first step to problem solving is identifying/acknowledging the problem. It’s through the repetition of our shutdowns that it becomes second nature for us to become unbothered by previous triggers. It’s work. It’s hard. It’s SOOOOO much easier to give into insecurity, anxiety, lack mentality, fear, etc. It’s like itching a mosquito bite or popping a pimple; we know darn well messing around is going to make matters worse and choosing to let it be will cause it to shrink and be done, but it gives us some odd gratification to itch. It’s the programming we have to get rid of; that need to itch. This is the challenge we are faced with, the programming is representative of the shackles and the only thing standing between you and your freedom from these shackles is effort.
Are you willing to invest in breaking free?
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