How do you stop doing things you don’t want to do?
How do you stop thinking about something that you can’t seem to stop thinking about?
You don’t want to yell at the kids. You don’t like it when you overeat. You wish you could stand up to your mom. You hate that you can’t stop the negative thoughts racing through your mind.
Money, kids, marriage, job, school, relationships, doubts, food, whatever…
What’s it all about? It might be:
*Fear of the unknown
*Worry about things you can’t control
Fear of the unknown
Do you ever blow stuff way out of proportion in your mind? You know the money might be tight, but you picture your family living on the street in a cardboard box. The kids may be struggling in school, but in your mind, they’ve flunked out and are living on the streets in a cardboard box. (What is it about living in a box?)
Our fears rarely come true. That’s not to say that some other thing that we see as negative might not happen. But, the thing we spend so much time worrying about probably won’t happen. We don’t tend to fear what’s familiar…even if it’s not good. The unknown can provoke anxiety because it’s, well, unknown.
Worry about things you can’t control
Isn’t it funny that we all think we can control things better than anyone else, even God. I’ve messed up so many things in my life, but I still struggle with things I can’t control. As if my controlling it would be the best choice. I have limited knowledge on many subjects (even though I am fairly intelligent). Others may have much more experience. I’ve raised my kids well, but I still struggle holding back advice, telling them what I think or what they should do. When do I trust that they can and will make good decisions and they need to figure it out on their own?
Mistrust of God
It all comes down to this.
Do I really believe the God of the Universe can handle things, or not?
Do I believe He knows better than me, more than me?
Do I trust that He loves me?
Do I believe He has my best interest at heart?
Here is a practical tool I’ve used to change my behavior, heart or thinking when I got stuck in a negative pattern:
- First thing in the morning, I acknowledge that God is God and I am not. I remind myself that I can trust him and I don’t need to control (fill in the blank).
- I ask myself if I can make it to the bathroom without doing (fill in the blank).
- When I make it that far, I thank God for the little win and do a little celebration dance (dance style is optional).
- I ask myself if I can make it downstairs to breakfast without (fill in the blank).
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 all day long.
- If I don’t think I can make it to the next goal, I make it a shorter goal. Ex: Can I make it for the next 5 minutes? The next 1 minute? The next 30 seconds? When I make it, thank God and celebrate.
- Begin again
If the issue is negative thought patterns, I’ve tried listening to worship music or really upbeat songs. I’ve read verses from the bible that tell me how much God loves me, or how awesome I am because I am his child. I can’t think about 2 things at once, so when I decide to think about something positive, the negative thoughts tend to disappear.
After doing this for a few weeks, I noticed I was able to make it longer and longer without worry and without doing the thing I didn’t want to do. I was more focused on God, his ability to do what I couldn’t, and his love for me.
When I’m free from these unwanted thoughts and behaviors, I have energy to focus on helping others.
Please note: Sometimes deeper issues prevent us from being able to just change behavior. If you need more help and support, please call 1-800-New-Life to find a professional counselor.
If you have other suggestions, please leave a comment below so others can benefit!
This post written by, Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole