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Many people involved with self improvement and personal growth give affirmations a thumbs down, actually saying they are worthless, but there are also many who give them the status of being the absolute key to success. So how do you look at something that is described as being at total opposite ends of the spectrum, from magic elixir of change to a useless waste of time?
I would like to inject some clarification into the topic of the usefulness of using affirmations in your self improvement efforts to change and further expand your life. The topic of affirmations is no different than any concept, there are two end of the spectrum which can be looked at. What I have found with most things there is a fine line in the middle between the two end which is where the value and power is found. And certainly with affirmations one can look at them from a perspective too far one way or the other.
With what is going on right now with the financial industry, housing, the stock market and the economy anxiety levels are running high. The more things appear uncertain, the more we can imagine ways they can be even worse, humans are creative creatures. And it seems we can imagine the negative quite easily. As we create more undesirable possibilities I our mind we have more to be fearful about.
This can snowball out of control when we collect our worries from several different areas at once, it can be overwhelming. We can feel totally out of control, which can bring on more anxiety by itself, bringing about emotional overload. When this happens we can cease to function in our normal way, giving the vast majority of our attention to all the worries and fears. Your behavior will change, to be more in following your thoughts and feelings. You will find yourself complaining a lot and not able to focus on accomplishing tasks which will increase your anxiety too.
We become consumed with it. As our thoughts are more focused on these fears, then on the anxiety itself, then on worry about being fearful and anxious it becomes a spiral you can’t overpower. You can feel like a beach ball caught in a hurricane being whirled around with no control. When you actually feel you have little to no control apathy can set in, which also will increase the anxiety.
So, you can see, this worry thing can become all encompassing if you allow it. And this is the key, if you allow it? Here’s the thing, any of the situations that you point to as the basis of your fears do not come with these feelings. In fact they come with no feelings at all, that is your doing. This is hard for many to accept but it’s true. Even when someone treats you badly, how you feel about it is all of your doing.
Yes, there are some very common reactions and feelings that you can have, but ultimately you have command over these. They are brought up from your unconscious programming automatically on cue, with out your conscious permission. Much of the reason you have these common reactions is that you tend to easily buy onto concepts and how to feel about when you see this exhibited by many others. You don’t realize how much of your inner programming was developed through modeling others. These common reactions and feelings are passed on by the masses without knowledge.
However, you don’t need to keep them in place. You can choose to have any reaction you want to something. So, back to your reactions to the fear, worry over the state of things in the economy, you don’t need to continue with them as you have. You can reduce or even eliminate them, thus the anxiety level drops as well.
The tough part is that right now it is much easier to fall prey to the negative news and your existing reactions than it is to take command of your thought and consciously consider other ways look at the situation and new interpretations that don’t include so much fear.
I would suggest not listening and reading current news as much as possible, stop allowing yourself to be continuously ‘prodded with a hot poker’ antagonizing your fears. The more news you get, the more this is reinforced. If you are directly involved in one of the problem areas, be concerned based on facts and look at what you can actually do about it, then take action. But just to worry is self destructive because it is based on fiction, choose not to get wrapped up in. And choose to not let yourself worry about anything you can’t do anything about.
Many try to find ways to eliminate anxiety without much success because you must actually look to changing what the anxiety builds on, in this case self chosen fears and related thoughts and feelings. All of these things going on, that you can’t personally do anything about, will evolve as they will with or without your feelings about them. Well, if anything, you will be mentally supporting them with your fear thoughts and even physically supporting them if your behavior follows suit. For example, if you get so fearful that you stop spending money as you normally do when there is no actual reason preventing it, you will be contributing to the economic slowdown. You surely don’t want to do that if you can help it.
Take mental and physical action:
Choose to take command of your thinking and analyze the situation.
Is your involvement in the situation causing your thoughts and feelings about it, or is it your fears about what could happen?
What are your perceptions of the situations, and how can they be changed to bring about different reactions?
What are your reactions, and must they be this way? How else can you react that would allow you to feel better?
Is there an actual personal involvement that you should be dealing with rationally, or are your actions being motivated by fear?
Choose to stay away from the constant bombardment of the news which just highlights the negative.
What can you do purposefully to keep yourself positive, upbeat and productive? Look for the good and create it.
The more you seek out why you think and feel as you do, the more you will understand, the more you can do something about it. When you change the way you look at these things, the way you see them will change, the way you react will change, the way you feel will change, the way you act will change and it’s all based on choice.
Make the choice to take command of your thinking, change it and the anxiety will dissipate.
A situation has come to my attention about someone who has been having problems for a long time trying to insist that other family members go along with how he wants to sort them out. He thinks discussing the mess of the past with others will help everyone with their stress, anxiety and depression, but mostly himself. He has been having a hard time living in the present without including the past.
This is a great example of how many get stuck in the idea that the only way to live fully in life is to go pack into the past and drudge it all up. That the only way to be happy today is to find and identify the ‘nugget’ in the past that seems to be at the root of your problems.
In order to see how personally destructive this is we must clear up some things about our existence and thinking.
First, the only REAL moment in your life is right now. Your future is your projection and your past is your memory.
So, the only way for the past to be a part of your life at this moment is for YOU to bring it here. Something that occurred in the past is not real today, but you can make it real by bringing the thoughts and emotional feeling of it into your thought space today. And through the miracle of your thought power you can choose to feel the same emotional feelings related to something from the past right now in the present. It’ s the most perfect re-enactment.
This is how your emotional pain from the past is brought current. Your past cannot bring itself into the now! Unless you choose to give those memories unlimited power in your life to come up at will and trigger emotional feelings at will.
Now I know that many feel the need to go back and discover the root cause of their pain feeling that this is the only way to alter the way they feel today. This is quite common, but so is the number of people stuck in a place of unhappiness waiting for the cure.
Where actually the only cure is today. How you choose to be and do today. There is a decision you must make, do you choose to live how you can live today or do you keep reliving some particular painful parts of the past?
Why most who think they need to dredge up the past is to ‘know’ why they think and feel as they do now. OK, yes you are a compilation of all of your perceptions linked together throughout your life. Since your perception is all you really have to bring everything into your life with, it influences who you are right now.
However, if you do go back in your past and find what you think is the root cause of particular thoughts and feelings, what then? In order for those thought patterns and attached emotional reactions to not be as they are today you will need to make some personal effort to alter them. They are the result of an initial event plus many other things that have been linked and have influenced your thinking along the way.
So, here is the surprise, just discovering the root cause will not make the thinking habits magically go away, all it does is perhaps relieve your curiosity and wonder about how it all started. You will still need to work on yourself to alter the thought ands behavioral patterns. The thoughts and behavioral patterns can be altered by you either way, so why put your life on hold to search for the one thing you think will make you better, make yourself into what you want anyway.
Some may think I am making this sound too simple. They will say, but I can’t think about any thing else, I can’t function with not knowing. These are valid, but only because you have chosen for them to be. You have chosen to allow them to be in your present moment and have the presence that they do.
What is really going on here is that you are shifting the responsibility of making your life all that it can be today, to something outside of yourself. You are placing the responsibility on the ‘thing’ that is may be the root of your troubling thoughts. “This will fix my life.” It won’t! It will only clarify a question you asked and decided to use as a condition to your happiness.
Even the question itself does not ‘make’ you do or feel anything, you choose to place a condition on it that it must be answered to your satisfaction in order for your life to go on. But, you can also choose differently. The responsibility to live harmoniously in the now is yours.
Why are some people consumed with needing to know about these root beginnings of their troubling thoughts? Because they don’t know what else to do. They think that if I can go back I can undo it all. You can’t, it happened. All you can do to change its influence on you is to change your interpretation of your perception of it. And this can be done right here right now without even knowing the details or knowing if it actually happened.
Other people have made a different choice, to not consider what happened in the past to be the deciding factor in their experience today.
You start by forgiving the past, everything that occurred and everyone in it for what they may have done. And this includes yourself. That’s all, that’s it. It is done, time to live today. Sound too simple? Most of the truths are simple, only us humans figure out debilitating ways to entangle ourselves in contrived complexity. And then stress about it.
I didn’t make this up, if you are involved with a religion, what do they say about forgiveness? But you may not be allowing yourself to fully do it because you have chosen to hold onto the past, and you can’t do both! Why has forgiveness been taught for centuries, because it takes care of these extremely debilitating problems that arise when we don’t.
This is how life works for us humans, whatever thoughts we choose to make our predominant thoughts have the most influence on our now. So, if you choose to think you are troubled today because of your past, you are. If you choose to change those thought and emotional patterns for today, you can do that also.
The only way to make your today any different than yesterday is to think and do things differently.
Sometimes finally discovering that root to your problems actually causes more problems. What if you presently think that maybe a certain person may have done something to you that was traumatic and started the troubling thought pattern. Right now you are worried about this possible truth and anxious about needing to know for sure. Then, say you find out it is true, just as you had thought, the person did something that hurt you. Now what?
Many time people in this position now become very angry with the person because they can, they now know for sure. Now on top of the original problems you had surrounding your suspicion you have deep resentment and anger. Much better, right? No, now you are in a worse situation that still requires you to come to terms with all of it in order to attempt to live in the now.
Any and all negative emotions only hurt you not the person you relate them to. Your emotions are completely experience by you alone. If you are mad AT someone, feel hatred TOWARDS someone, HOLD disdain or resentment, guess whose body and mind are suffering from the negative energy? You. Here is the interesting point, you are the only one who can turn on an emotion and you are the only one that experiences them. Hmm, So who can change them?
Danger, continuing this WILL be hazardous to your mental and physical health.
This incessant desire to find ‘the’ answer is no different than other forms of striving where we have an insatiable desire to have, do or be something. And just the same as with striving, if we place a CONDITION of its acquisition we are setting ourselves up for failure. Things regularly turn out differently than we may initially desire. Then our conditional response is set into motion, usually not one of pleasure. The trees that survive heavy winds are the more flexible ones!
As I said earlier, why not start right now to forgive anyone who you think may have done something, in case they did. Forgive yourself for being involved, however you may have been. This is the only way to actually relieve the pressure of the emotions you are feeling regarding what may have happened. Even discovering that root event will not relieve the pressure. Forgive and you can begin new and fresh, allowing yourself to be receptive to what your now has in store for you rather than trying to mix the past with the present.
Frankly if something in the past were so potentially painful why would someone want it over a new moment with out it?
From here you can begin to work on the thought patterns and behaviors that are not in line with what you really want ion your life without the burden of constantly refreshing the past. There are many techniques for changing your predominant thoughts to thoughts that are positive and life affirming, such as positive affirmations.
That is another topic but start with a wholesale forgiveness of everything that has happened in your life and everyone that was or may have been involved. This will help you turn your past into memories rather than emotionally charged events you are bringing up to the present.
High self-esteem and great self-confidence are not supported by dwelling on the past, they are boosted by a positive attitude towards your life’s possibilities. The best stress reliever is letting go of the past. Positive thinking is rising above the mire of the past.
For your past – thank it, forgive it and bless it!
For your future – move on, find peace and be happy!
Forgive, learn, grow and live. . .
John Halderman, a writer, speaker, and trainer intent on helping you get real results from your personal growth efforts.
He supports methods, tools, and knowledge that bridge the gap between information and effective results.
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