I have learned – at least for me – that my brain is a muscle I can train and develop. I have learned that I can – if I try – pick up my thoughts and put them somewhere better. I have learned – and I try and remember – that I might not have control in this moment about how I feel, but that I can, usually…or at least sometimes, control what I do about how I feel and what I think about. And that can affect how I feel.

I’ve trained myself to pay attention to what I’m thinking about and how I’m thinking about it. I’ve trained myself to take an objective eye to my thought (and life) patterns and to assess if I’m helping or hurting myself along the way.

I may be angry, but staying with the resentment and hashing my justifications over and over in my mind doesn’t actually help me. I may be hurt, but wallowing in my pain and hashing my justifications over and over in my mind doesn’t actually help me. I may be scared or ashamed, but remaining in that fear or allowing the shame to continuously wash over me (and hashing my justifications over and over in my mind) doesn’t actually help me.

Do you see the pattern here as well?

For me, sometimes it’s too much to reach all the way for joy. For me, sometimes it’s easier to aim for ease or simple satisfaction. For me, when I set my sights for a calm, a tranquility, or a feeling of contentment, I can move through and past the feelings that are taking me over, and I can find my resting place of love.

Is this thought satisfying? And this one? And this one? When I focus my brain with this question, I laughingly have to admit the number of thoughts I think that take me down rabbit-holes, or that make up stories out of nowhere about what other people are thinking or meaning, or that just make my days – and my life – harder for me.

I know where my “stinking thinking” comes from. I mean, I wrote a memoir about it. I am aware of the many experiences (and my interpretation of the many experiences) that carved grooves of fear and shame into my brain. I recognize my thought (and life) patterns by now. I recognize them, and I know them well.

And I know, as always, that I have a choice. I have a choice to find a reason to smile in this moment…or not. I have a choice to refocus my brain in a way that soothes me…or not. I have a choice to think in ways that support and comfort me and bring me ease and peace…or not.

Is this thought satisfying? And this one? And this one?

I have a choice.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Photo by Ishan Gupta on Unsplash

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