Change Your Thoughts

Change_your_Thoughts_-_ButtLike George Carlin, a personal favorite, I have a list, but mine is made up of dirty words of a different kind: fear, hate, worry, problem and trouble. These are words I have done my conscious best to remove from my vocabulary and here’s why.

There’s a popular saying, with which I concur, “You are what you eat.” And there is a parallel, existing on a higher level still, which states that, “You are what you think.” (And what you speak, and what you dwell upon and fear.) I was told once that to fear a thing is almost like praying to have it happen to you. That when you expend a lot of energy on fear and apprehension, you draw to yourself the very thing which you wish, at all cost, to avoid. Think of Job, of Biblical fame, who said, “The thing that I feared has come upon me,” to describe personal loss on a scale not seen before nor since.

In looking into several dictionary definitions, I found that fear, and all of its synonyms, such as dread, apprehension, terror and the rest, deal with being afraid of a future event which may or may not ever take place! In other words, giving time, emotion and brain space to such an activity is wasteful.

Take the word “hate”. In this age of instant gratification we hate so many things. We hate broccoli, rush hour traffic, waiting, illegal immigrants, crying babies on planes, cell-phone-distracted drivers, rain and bad hair days. “Hate” in its many forms has probably led to more wars than any other word except, perhaps, for “greed”, although the two are often found consorting together. How many times have you heard someone say, “Don’t you just hate that?” To which my reply is a smile and a, “Well, it’s not one of my favorite things!” I want the message to my subconscious to be positive and spoken with a smile in my voice. One’s subconscious possesses no critical factor. Simply put, it cannot distinguish between the truth and a lie. So be careful how you pour on the negativity. After a while, your subconscious will begin to cooperate to bring more and more negativity into your life, as it perceives that that is what you expect.

Then there’s one of my pet peeves, the word “worry”. Again, it deals with the future, and whether it’s well-grounded or a nebulous thing born of exhaustion and uncertainty, it saps resources we can ill afford to spare. One Sunday morning years ago, during a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, I suddenly heard, as I never had before, the celebrant asking God to protect us from all useless anxiety. And it was as if a bell rang, quite clearly and distinctly, although only for me.

Of course anxiety, a form of worry, is useless. Again, as with fear, it takes up time that should be used to think of solutions. When you’ve run through all your options, try this. Think of successful people who you know had it a lot harder than you. What would Oprah do about this? Mother Teresa? Michael J. Fox? Helen Keller? Heck, what would MacGyver do? Think outside the box. Read the biographies of people who struggled for many years prior to becoming “overnight successes”! My preference is to say I have a concern about something. I’m involved and invested and I’m bringing all my intelligence and commitment to bear on finding a solution. Sometimes it just takes a change in perspective and looking at an issue from a different viewpoint.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve thanked a person for some service, only to be told, “No problem.” I hear this and my first thought is, “Problem? There’s a Problem?” When things are going well, why introduce a jarring note? Wouldn’t it be much nicer and more positive to be told instead, “It’s my pleasure.” Or “I’m happy to help.” See? Pleasant words, spoken with a smile, make the entire experience enjoyable for everyone. I’m many times more likely to return to a place where I was made to feel welcomed and appreciated.

This rule works for “trouble” as well. English is such a rich language, with a wealth of descriptive words and phrases from which to choose. In place of trouble, how about concern, thing, situation, predicament, circumstance, dilemma, quandary, or my favorite, challenge. Trouble has all kinds of negative connotations. So instead of choosing to see something in that light, try to see it as a challenge, which is something which can be met and overcome!

You see, it’s all in the way you look at and talk about your life and the world around you. Set your mental alarm, and notice how often you talk about your fears and worries and troubles. How many things in your life do you hate and how often do you speak your hatred aloud? Are your “problems” getting you down? Are you ready to do something about it? You don’t even have to wait for tomorrow. You can begin today. No charge, no calories, no cholesterol, nothing to buy and no salesman will call. It’s easy to get started. It only takes a slight change in your speech patterns and some of your thinking habits. The payoff is a reduction in stress and a lightening of the heart. You’ll be able to tell it’s working when friends begin to ask why you seem so much happier. (And some of them might even guess that you’ve lost weight or changed your hair!)

Now I must confess that one of the main reasons I’ve written this piece is for myself. With all the negative news lately, my feet have been slipping off my chosen path way too often. I have been giving too much energy and power to the recent avalanche of unsettling news. If I have to remind myself every day then, so be it. I can’t afford to give up my power or to use my time in this negative fashion, so I’m repairing the holes in my armor and recommitting myself to the endeavor. I hope to see you along the way.

(Originally published February 20, 2011 as “Carrying on the Tradition”)

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About the Author:

Born in a small, Illinois log cabin. No, that won't work. The pampered only child of incredibly wealthy parents. No, that doesn't fly either. Raised by French nuns after her aristocratic parents were beheaded. No, that's been done! An East Coast transplant to the Pacific Northwest, this notoriously late bloomer began her new life with a new career as a writer and blogger. She has taken to both the new location and the career move like a duck to water. Writing for Expats Post is a new adventure, and our intrepid risk-taker is diving in, feeling right at home with so many old friends.
Reached for comment she replied, "Okay, I wrote my bio, may I Please go out and play?"
We expect great, or perhaps merely more coherent, things from this writer. (Okay, that's a wrap. What a wacko!)

  • Larry Conley


    “My preference is to say I have a concern about something. I’m involved and invested and I’m bringing all my intelligence and commitment to bear on finding a solution. Sometimes it just takes a change in perspective and looking at an issue from a different viewpoint.”

    Sometimes even with a writer as skilled as you are, I misconstrue the intent of message or the messenger. I take it that you are saying better to be constructively engaged in trying to do something worthwhile about what many trouble, anger, upset, annoy, piss off, or CONCERN one, than it is to just stew in one’s own juice. Am I picking up what you are laying down?

    If so, then count me in sister! Let us all be “involved and invested and and bring all our intelligence and commitment to bear on finding a solution.” If I have correctly understood, then I am going to proceed with my plan to call upon my Representative and Senators to complete the following to do list.

    1. Restoring Employee’s Right to Freely Practice their Religious Beliefs
    2. Restoring the Voting Rights Act
    3. Principled, Humane Immigration Reform
    4. Ensuring the Solvency of the Highway Trust Fund

    5. Improving Veterans’ Benefits
    6. Enacting Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits

    If I am off track, please let me know because I genuinely want expend my energy in the proper and most productive manner.


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    • Melody Haislip

      Larry, I applaud your action list and your choice of issues. If changing your thinking leads to taking this kind of action, that’s wonderful. I need to remind myself of these things when the negative news leaves me feeling semi-paralyzed. While you’re at it, kick some ass and take some names for me!

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