Thursday, May 1, 2014

Coping with Negativity

My mind can easily go in a negative direction.  Lately, I have addressed that problem by praying in my mind.  And my prayers in this case have not been me complaining to God about my situation, for that is negative thinking.  Nor, on the contrary, have they been me trying to reassure myself with positive thoughts that I do not truly believe.  Rather, I have been asking God to fill me with love, joy, and peace.  I have been asking him to bless me.  I have been asking him to help me not to despise certain people.  When my mind turns to my flaws and I begin to feel hopeless, I ask God to help me to be a better person in the areas that are perplexing me.  And I have prayed for others, too, when their needs and desires have come to my attention.  Some of my requests are pretty outrageous, but, hey, I’m putting the ball in God’s court!  Maybe he’ll answer as I want, and maybe he won’t!  My goal is mainly to get through the day without feeling rage or depression.  Prayer has enabled me to interrupt my negative thoughts and to replace them with some hope, or (when I pray for others) love.

So far, so good!  Or at least, so far, not so bad!  There are times when more heavy-duty prayer is needed: when I need to go to my room, close the door, and speak my prayer aloud for ten minutes, maybe longer.  These are times when there is a lingering bitterness inside of me that is not necessarily being caused by thoughts that are in the forefront of my mind.  It is just there, in the background, sowing its seeds of discontent.  In those times, I need to take a time-out and interrupt my bitterness with prayer.  I need to tell God—-aloud, so that my prayer is focused and is the main object of my attention at the moment—-what it is that is bothering me.  But, in times when my mind is just wandering and moves in a negative direction, I find that just interrupting my thoughts with prayers of request has worked.  Or at least it has for the past week.

There is a place for talking things out with others, too.  I am not as comfortable doing so, maybe because I fear being judged, or I fear being told that nothing is wrong when there is, or I fear hearing certain advice that in the past I have not found particularly helpful.  But one reason that talking things out with others has worked for me in the past (at least sometimes) is that it allows me to put some things into perspective: I am not a bad person just because I am struggling with a social encounter, the other person is not bad either, here are some suggestions on what I can do, here is a better way to see the situation, I am not alone in my struggles because others have them too, etc.

I am not suggesting these ideas as a cure-all for everybody.  I am just sharing what I have done.  If it resonates with you, I am happy.  If it does not, I hope and pray that you find your own way to cope with yourself and the world around you, if you have not already.

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