The Power of Thought

Too often we say to ourselves or others, “how could this happen to me/to us/to our company?”  We believe we are powerless over forces and circumstances that seem to swirl about us as if in some conspiratorial way.  In this powerlessness, we cast ourselves as victims in our own drama, the villain always being someone or something else.  As people, we fall into these patterns because it is easier to project our pain, mistakes and short comings, than to own them ourselves.  We project onto others what we would rather not look at within ourselves.  We move frenetically through our lives without slowing down long enough to reflect, process, and discern, not only what is going on around us, but in our own thought patterns as well.  We thoughtlessly react, instead of thoughtfully acting.

When life throws us for a loop…or two…or three; when unforeseen events come crashing into our lives, disrupting our sense of equilibrium or illusions of control, it is natural and human to want to personalize the event(s).  Perhaps we were violated in some way or a trust was broken; perhaps illness or death invaded, casting a dark shadow over our life or those others we love; perhaps we lost our job – the result of economic and political forces beyond our control.

Still, anticipated or not, how we choose to interpret and respond to life’s losses and challenges is within our control, and our thoughts, for better or worse, profoundly shape how we move forward beyond these circumstances into the future.  Put a positive spin on events, and your more likely to create a psychological opening for moving forward; respond with a heart of gratitude or compassion, and your more likely to develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty in each person and learnings in each situation; respond with integrity and transparency, and you’re more likely to build trust with others; respond with humility, and others are more likely to work with and/or support you in your endeavors.

I’m curious…

How do you respond to the invariable struggles of life?  Do you seek to find meaning, answers, and openings for moving forward, or do you find yourself stuck in a cycle of blame – whether of self or another?  When life’s challenges comes crashing into your world; when challenges result in personal grief or hardship, how do you choose to move through them?   Do you seek opportunities for growth and learning, do you tend to bury or mask your pain, or do you choose the path of martyrdom?  What role does forgiveness, humility, and gratitude play in moving forward?

3 thoughts on “The Power of Thought

  1. I really admire how you look at life’s circumstances regardless of the uncertainly or degree of impact. Your positive spin is such a wonderful notion, but can it really be done? But more important is the question of what has become of the person who does spin it. Tell me, aren’t you just shutting down your deepest real emotions, hiding from true feelings and the reality of life’s ups and downs? I can’t seem to get over this being a coping mechanism, insulating the mind and body from what we cannot control, that which it truly real.

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    • Interesting food for thought. In my own life, I view attitude as largely an active and deliberate choice, reflective of my values, not a passing feeling. When my attitude starts to stink, there is usually something deeper going on that needs to be addressed – perhaps a buried feeling or an unmet need. Choosing to look at the upside and learnings of any given situation does not mean that real feelings of hurt, pain, rejection, disappointment, anger, etc. are buried or shut down. We are human, after all. Still, in the wake of processing our feelings, I believe that the stories we tell ourselves or others have the power to alter our perceptions of the truth in any given situation, thereby influencing the outcome of a given situation.

      Another way to look at this issue is from the perspective of attachment vs. detachment. If I’m angry with someone and choose to stay attached to that anger, whether justified or not, I cannot move forward and often become stuck in the past. Letting go from a place of forgiveness may have zero impact on the subject of my anger, but enables me to release energy that can be used for more positive and constructive gain.

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