I learned years ago, in Al-Anon, to “pick up my mind and put it somewhere else” when I was distressed. I learned then – and again during my Positive Psychology certification – that while we think we feel certain ways because of what’s happening or what someone is doing around (or to) us, we actually feel certain ways because of how we think about what’s happening or what someone is doing around (or to) us. That it’s largely in our thoughts and how we view things – sometimes completely in our thoughts and how we view things. My thoughts and how I view things.
And I have a choice and the ability to change those thoughts.
I learned this. I’ve practiced this. I know this. And I forget this. I forget to choose to see something differently. I forget to think about something differently. I get caught in my mind – and my emotions – and I get seemingly stuck. At least for a little while.
But there is a simple question that helps me shift – “Is this what I want to think and feel?”
When I remember to stop and think about what I’m thinking about – as a human I have metacognition…why not use it? – I ponder how the thought I’m thinking is making me feel. I can then choose to change the thought I’m thinking if I want to feel differently. Or not.
I’m not suggesting that we put our heads in the sand and ignore things that aren’t right. Not in our own lives and not in our world. Especially now. We’ve been – in some ways thankfully – forced to see things that, at least for me with my privilege, I’ve been aware of but able to choose to ignore. And I choose not to ignore those things anymore. But I still have a choice over what I think and how I feel…and therefore what I’ll do.
I’m not suggesting that we don’t need to take action and to stand up for ourselves and others when things are wrong. I am learning to do that more and more and more. Standing up for myself is a good muscle to build. Standing up for others is essential and who I want to be.
But I know that I can get stuck in “stinking thinking,” as they say in AA. And I can ask myself, “is this what I want to think and feel?” I can then choose to move a muscle, change a thought, shift my perspective, find my joy, and do what needs to be done.
And be. Be me. Be full. Be in joy. Spread joy.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!