Hello and Welcome! Today's post is brimming with tip points and action steps to encourage you journey on your faith walk. Last month was the blog's birthday and if you haven't yet received your birthday gift for being a subscriber, just go to the October link under Archives in the sidebar for information on how to get your free book! Now on to the post...
Have you passed by a conversation in process and get a vibe? Or, have you ever gathered for a meeting and felt the tension in the room? How do you feel when you’re part of negative, pessimistic, derogatory or sarcastic conversation? I truly believe negativity has a feel to it. Even more, when we are in a negative environment, it changes the status of our muscles, blood pressure, heart rate, breath, peace, thoughts, and attitude. Negativity dims and tangles the heart and mind. Just talking about it makes me gloomy!
Thankfully, we are also wonderfully affected by the polar opposite of negativity! We do our body and soul good when we offer affirming and positive words, receive smiles, share laughter, listen with understanding, and extend gratitude. These acts lift and brighten our hearts. I can remember a day I watched some people having a great laugh and I thought to myself, when is the last time you laughed, grinned, or giggled? I couldn’t give myself an answer. I don't know how long it's been since I laughed until my stomach muscles hurt and tears were rolling down my face. That bothered me so I decided to take note of how much negativity I’m exposing myself to on a day to day basis. Breaking news! is always negative. Then there are the prompts by media to look at the disturbing video and listen to the angry exchange of words. I get to see and hear way more than I need. Advertisers, too, try to get my attention with negative twists.
In deep waters is where I found myself several years ago when I became immersed in negativity. I liken it to my experience of snorkeling. I’ve snorkeled a few times in my life so far in Mexico, Grand Caymen, and the Turks and Caicos. It was in Grand Caymen that I learned what not to do. Whether on land or sea, I get distracted. When I snorkel in the ocean, I’m so focused on the beauty of the coral and other ocean life beneath me that it’s easy to lose track of my position. I can’t truly gauge my location from the boat because I’m face down in the water. I’m unaware that the tide and current is causing me to drift, moving me further and further from the boat. If the current takes me away from the boat, then I will have to fight that current to get back. That’s the mistake I made. By the time I came up to check my location, I was a significant distance from the boat. The only way back is to swim against the current and if it’s strong then it can be very difficult and tiring. (By the way, the boat won’t come to you.) I made it back but it was hard and exhausting.
So, how does drifting relate to negativity? Negativity causes you to drift from your starting point--that being a heart filled with gratitude, hope, and trust in the Lord. When you’re focused on the negative you don’t realize your position has changed.
There was a time when I indulged myself an occasional complaint or a grumble. I justified it as a harmless act of stress relief. And, it did feel like relief. It’s the kind of relief you feel when you enter refreshingly cool water on a blistering hot day. It felt like I was off-loading, unburdening, releasing the frustration. That’s reasonable, right? It’s no good to keep things bottled up. But, there’s a danger zone. The more often I indulged myself the further I drifted from my starting point. My stress and frustrations coupled with external negativity acted as a steady current pulling me to into deeper water. Occasional complaining or grumbling turned into a consistent pessimism and gloomy outlook. A habit was forming. My complaining, grumbling steadily transformed my mindset and attitude and day by day I drifted away from gratitude. So far from where I started, I no longer had a proper perspective on what was right and well with my life. I became a person with an all-encompassing negative outlook and viewpoint.
Why did it happen? I can’t really say except that I let it happen. Eventually, I figured what I needed to do to get back to my previous heart position. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to turn my thoughts and attitude around. Unlearning requires endurance.
Loss of sight. The eyes of the negative heart can see no good thing. The mind’s eye becomes a negative view-finder focusing on what is not right, not fixed, not happening, not healed, and not working.
Forgetfulness. We ignore God’s presence forgetting His past faithfulness. This mindset dismisses all else that God is providing, working out, or resolving.
Ingratitude. We cannot, or choose not, to offer thanks and gratitude to God for what is and for what is not. As a negative heart and mind persists, it transforms and reforms our will.
Anxiety. Negativity increases our stress and our hearts become anxious. Negativity erodes our faith, hope, and peace.
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone whose focus is directed at the negative and unable to see what is right with their life? Let’s make it more personal. What do you reflect on more, the positive aspects of your day or the negative conversations and experiences? Take a moment to think about it. Where do your thoughts land? On the positive or the negative?
Go to what delights your soul
Entertain peace in your heart
Fill your eyes with beauty
Tune your ears to songs that praise
Nurture your body with rest
Refresh your thoughts with the Word of God
Surrender unknowns to the Lord
Choose to see, perceive God’s active, working presence in your life.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power at work within us. –Ephesians 3:20
You simply can’t imagine or comprehend all that God provides to you on a moment to moment basis, but it is possible to intentionally reflect on His constant presence intervening, influencing, resolving, strengthening, directing, and involving Himself in your day.
Catch a Negative Thought. Stop a negative thought in process and move your frame of mind in the opposite direction.
Spot the Positive. A proper perspective allows you to create positive momentum within your thoughts that is reflected through your speech and attitude.
Do a Body Check. When you catch your thoughts propelling you down the path of negativity do a body check. Is your jaw clenched? Is your heart rate increased? Are your muscles tight particularly in the abdominal region, neck, or shoulders? What you think about directly affects your body.
Evaluate your Environment. What you take in, is what comes out. Do you need to reevaluate what you consume via TV, internet, and other media? What about your work environment?
Pray. Ask God to help you break the habit of negative thinking. Ask Him to set your physical and spiritual vision on Him. Choose to see through eyes of faith and hope.