There’s a whole lot of noise in the world today. That’s part of the reason I haven’t been writing very much recently. I can’t stand the thought of adding to an already overwhelming amount of information. People can’t digest all that is at their fingertips. It’s too much.
If there’s one thing I know, it’s that sometimes a message starts burning within me until I just have to sit down and get it out. When I can’t shake it, I know it’s time to say it. So, here I am, adding to the noise and hoping that it’s worth someone’s precious time. Maybe someone needs to hear it right now!
Purpose is of utmost importance to me. If something doesn’t have a purpose, I have a very difficult time getting on the bandwagon of whatever it may be. You can ask the women’s ministry team I led for several years… I was annoyingly hypervigilant against “fluff,” as I called it. I had to learn to take a chill pill and realize that a little superficial fun never hurt anyone, in fact it can be downright therapeutic.
But for the majority of my life, I want to be found participating in things that matter for years beyond the doing. I am enamored by the idea of changing realities that haven’t even happened yet. I have witnessed how purposeful sacrifices can lead to generational modifications. I am inspired by the revolution that happens when one person takes a stand and says “no more.”
There are a lot of ways in which a person can say “no more.” We are all faced with little choices every day which will lead to one outcome or another. We know this instinctively, we just don’t always take the time to analyze this practice.
Most of us know what we should be doing. An overweight person is typically aware that they should lessen their food intake. The diabetic knows they should probably pass on the chocolate cake. The smoker is aware that each drag of the cigarette is leading to a potential death. The alcoholic doesn’t drink because he thinks it’s a good idea. Deep down they know they should say no. The chronically negative person hates that they cannot find the good in anything and yet feels powerless to change. The parent that resorts to screaming instead of balanced reason with their children doesn’t feel better when they go over the edge.
What are we to do? Here’s a start:
- Decide you are going to make the change.
- Start small.
- Get back up and try again if you fail.
- Keep trying, even when it gets hard.
These are all steps we’ve heard before. Maybe we’ve even tried them before.
I want to talk to those of you who have talked about making better choices and continually find yourself slipping right back into the behavior. I consider myself something of an expert on the subject, because I’ve had the experience of consistently failing at something.
Thankfully, I’ve come to understand that there are lasting ways to make changes in our lives. I know that growth and change are possible. It doesn’t mean perfection is ever reached; I don’t believe that perfection exists...in anyone. Do you hear what I’m saying? If someone tries to sell you some kind of fake perfectionism, run away. More than likely, they aren’t being honest about something in their life.
I do believe with all my heart, however, that real, lasting change is absolutely possible. When I was tempted to quit counseling because it was too expensive or too painful, I didn’t because I was amazed at how much it was contributing to the change I saw in my circumstances. I processed memories and perspectives that needed to be discussed, received tools to help heal my mind, and started using those tools in order to create a new normal.
Once you discover that something needs changed, the only responsible thing to do is to work towards changing it! Now that you know...it’s time to grow. We were designed to learn new things every day. We are stunning creations who have the capacity to reset and form new identities. We don’t have to stay stuck.
If you struggle with a toxic thought life, start today at changing those thought patterns (speaking to the choir on this one… this tendency is huge in my life). You don’t have to believe every negative thought that happens to saunter through your brain. Make it stop. And if you find yourself unable to, get some professional help. Don’t take it. Boss your brain around and tell it what to do. Change the conversation happening in your head.
If you find yourself continually going back to the same type of toxic friendships, make a conscious effort to separate yourself from the negative relationships you have created with them. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s necessary. Sometimes it takes an honest conversation with a friend. Maybe they aren’t so bad that you need to make a separation. But, perhaps you need to discuss some of the negative patterns you know are present in the relationship.
Maybe you know you should discontinue a habit. It’s something that is only mildly destructive now, but you have a sick feeling in your gut that it could be the death of you if it got out of control. Why wait until you have damaged health, a crumbling marriage or a crisis of some kind before you make the change you know is vital right now?
Decide to change.
Get back up and try again if you fail.
Keep trying, even when it gets hard.
I want to challenge you (and myself) to think about the possible ramifications of just one choice. What could change in your family if you stopped toxic thinking? What patterns could you put to an end if you chose to think before you spoke? How might you inspire the generations coming up behind you if you were to put an end to unhealthy habits? What might your decision change for those who are watching?
I get it. It’s not often that we think about our great-grandchildren while we are going through a typical day. But, maybe it’s time to start thinking toward the future. What can we change today that will have a lasting impact on our family tomorrow?
If it feels overwhelming, break it down in bite-sized chunks.
Smoke one less cigarette today. Use one teaspoon of sugar in your coffee instead of two. Take two bites of dessert instead of ten. Replace “I’m so ugly” when you look in the mirror with “I am thankful I have eyes to see,” or with a compliment you know to be true about yourself. Count to ten before you respond to your kids with the typical red faced retort. Ask for help. Breathe. Have grace for yourself. And, start small.
Over time, add more to your small goals. Do more as you can do more. Don’t give up!
The important thing is that we recognize when something is a potential long-term problem and we begin the process of correcting it in our lives.
It’s good for us.
It’s good for those who are watching us.
What is it in your life that you know needs to change?
I’m cheering for you. I know it’s tough to look at those areas we know are holding us back.
But, let me lovingly tell you, now that you know...it’s time to grow.
Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash
Hi! I'm Jamie.