Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Perils of Listening to the Wrong Voices

Ever eat that donut or piece of cake when you know you are trying to lose weight? Plop yourself in front of the boob tube when you know you should be exercising? Tell yourself you're too fat, too old, too lazy? It's easy to be tempted into buying something we don't really need, eating something that is not healthy, or giving up on our dreams. It all depends on which voices we listen to.

There are many voices both in the world and inside our heads that clamor for our attention; many of them are negative and self-defeating. If we're not careful, our thoughts will lead us down Alice's rabbit hole and off the path to our goals, dreams and destinies. How does this happen and what to do about it?

First, realize that negative thoughts are normal. In fact, our brains tend to focus on the negative. Scientists call this the "negative bias". This means the human brain reacts more intensely to negative stimuli. This may account for the widespread fascination with bad news and events and why we tend to place more emphasis on the negative things that happen in our lives and in our relationships. Ever pay attention to people's conversations? Listen to what is being talked about and chances are it is about something bad that happened.

Second, realize that our thinking is highly influenced by the people we are around most. Our parents have the most impact on us because we have closer ties to them, communicate more with them, and we are subtly programmed to think the way they think. If our parents were negative, anxious, or fearful, chances are so will we be. The problem is we don't realize our thinking is faulty because that is all we have ever known. If we don't take action to correct erroneous thought patterns, we will pass them on to our kids and the negative fear cycle will continue.

When we focus on the negative voices, we will get depressed, which will cause us to lose our energy and then we will give up on our goals and dreams. It is a slippery slope which often goes unnoticed and that is why it is so important to be aware of which voices we are listening to.

Recently, I realized I was comparing my current situation to a period of time in the past when I was going through a divorce. The same of feelings hovered over me like a dark cloud.
It was beginning to get me down. But then I had a revelation. Instead of saying to myself, "Gee, here we go again....why is this happening to me?" it occurred to me that there was another way to look at my current circumstances and my past. I said to myself "Look at what all God has brought you through. He is going to get you through this situation as well, so relax and take a chill pill." I felt like the dark cloud was replaced by a ray of bright sunshine.

Reframing our negative experiences in a positive light may well be one of the most important mental activities we can learn. There is always another way to view our situation. Difficult circumstances happen to all of us, but I have found that something good always comes out of my painful experiences. In my book,"The Power of Faith", I share many personal stories of trials and challenges, and how they all eventually worked out for my good. When something bad happens, I ask myself "How else can I view this situation?" and "What can I learn from this?" I want to glean whatever buried treasures may be hidden in the difficult circumstances that present themselves.

We need to step back from the immediate situation and take a look at the bigger picture. I believe we need to have God's perspective on things. Romans 8:28 says "God works all things for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose." We are all children of God and God's purpose is the same for all of us: to make us more like Him. In other words, God allows the circumstances of life to make us more loving, kind, gentle, fearless, forgiving, wise, patient, peaceful, etc.

If we want to move forward in life and see our goals and dreams become realities, it is crucial to let go of erroneous thought patterns and reframe difficult circumstances. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. The more we catch our thoughts and replace them with positive affirming ones, the more energy and joy we will feel and it will be easier to maintain our focus on achieving our goals.

If you'd like a copy of my free guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path enter your email address in the box on the right. Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel