Monday, June 01, 2009

Catch and Release

Whether it is complaints from our kids, criticism from someone we love, or our own self-defeating thoughts, we are bombarded with negativity everyday.

Whoa, I know what you are thinking, I don't know if I want to read this post. Read on. I have been giving this considerable thought and I hope my thoughts make you think.

A few weeks ago, I spent some time talking to some friends about burdens. We all felt weighed down by stress or worry. For each of us, there was some kind of conflict in our lives -either with someone else or internally. We were all struggling. Someone said something to this affect: "I just don't know how to let go."

We cannot control all of the factors that push negativity our way. Negativity can arrive in the form of complaints, criticism, worry, or self-abasement. We can control what we do with our thoughts.

I don't think controlling our thought process is easy. I do think being proactive in this area will relieve a lot of stress. How often when you think of stress in your life, do you relate it to your own attitude and thinking? We underestimate the harm we do to ourselves with our own thinking.

After all, when I am most content - when I have the most peace of mind- it isn't because of my external situations. My thoughts and attitude are the most important factors to determine my level of contentment.

I believe that I should recognize a negative thought (the catch) and then let it go (the release).

That sounds great - but how do I do that?

I am being challenged by this. I am training my mind. I want to take every thought captive. I am consciously cultivating an awareness of my thoughts. I am convinced that holding on to a negative thought cannot help me in any way.

I don't pretend that I am not thinking negatively. I simply recognize it and determine to let go of it.

Sometimes, I recognize a negative thought and I simply stop myself from thinking that way. Other times, I recognize negativity and I pray over those thoughts. I pray for my concern, the situation, or the person involved. Prayer is an effective way for me to release my negative thoughts.

There are times when I struggle. I know I mentioned that I was "struggling" after David's allergic reaction. I recognized that holding on to negativity (or my anger) could not help me at all but I kept struggling. So, I asked a few friends to pray for me. I struggled and then found a release in relying on friendship and prayer.

There are few things in my life that I can control. With practice, I am gaining control over my thoughts. I am becoming more aware of my thoughts and, as I result, I am more in tune with my emotions. In becoming more aware of negativity, I am turning more over in prayer. The things I cannot control, I leave in God's hands.


Alicia said...

Wonderful post! It really spoke to me! It's soooo easy to hold on to those negative thoughts, and really be consumed by them! That's what the enemy wants though, right??

I know there are some things that I need to learn to let slide off my back, so to speak, instead of bitterness growing!!!!!

allergy mama said...

I have been working on this too! I miss the positive person I used to be, and am determined to get back to being her.

Oddly enough, there is a whole branch of psychology devoted to helping you retrain the way you think about things rather than trying to decide why you think that way. It's called cognitive behavior theory. If you want encouragement that you can retrain your brain and the way you think about things, it's there.

You go with your positive perspective!

Carrie said...

THat is truly a hard thing to do! I'm pretty easy-going, but sometimes that negativity and stress likes to sneak in :)

I love the catch & release comparison...that is good way to remember how to deal with it! {How can you be negative with that cute little picture in your mind!}

ChupieandJ'smama said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing and for the reminder.
I love the photo too.

McCrakensx4 said...

Great post Jane Anne. i stuggle with this on a daily basis, but am learing to give it to God. Thanks for the reminder and the title...catch and release...easy! Have a great day!

He And Me + 3 said...

Great title and love that picture. YOu post was very thought provoking. The mind is a very big battle ground for the devil and when we do let things go, God is able to heal us much quicker. Some times easier said than done. Great job on getting us all thinking and taking steps in the right direction.

Trisha said...

Such great advice... love the catch and release metaphor. I just listened to a message last night from Pete Wilson. He was saying we need to be intentional about what we feed our minds since our minds are like sponges. If we feed our minds with negativity like you are talking about, then that is what will pour out of us when the 'squeeze' is put on us.

Elaine at Matters of the Heart) said...

This was so great. Our pastor talks about this all the time. He actually has a visual. Actually try to catch the thought with your hand then release or throw it away as if it was a ball. It is kind of neat when you do it.

everydayMOM said...

Amen! So true.

I love the book, "Choosing Forgiveness". It talks about leading a lifestyle of choosing to forgive immediately, rather than hanging on to things, which then will create bitterness.

Nicole said...

I find that I can really struggle with this too. Sometimes that negativity feels like it's got quite a grip and just won't let go. I really like the "catch and release" picture. It's a great way to think about it.

RLR said...

Thanks so much for sharing this! Sunday and Monday were particularly tough days for me as far as the 'release' was concerned.
I've been observing a couple of people lately who are very negative (in their personal interactions, facebook status/comments, email correspondence, etc). One of these people is someone I was very close to until a few months ago. Knowing that this friendship is suffering is sad for me, but I am coming to realize that her negativity isn't intentionally directed toward me. I've felt personally attacked in a very passive-aggressive manner, and even though I know it wasn't intentional, letting go of my negative thoughts and feelings has not been easy.
Thanks for the reminder that I really can (and need to!) let go.

By the way... I just signed up for a Bible study that begins later this month called "Me, Myself, and Lies" (Jennifer Rothschild) about 'cleaning out your thought closet.' Is Jennifer your pseudonym?!? :) You really do have a great metaphor here!

Five Moms & A Blog said...

Awesome post! Catch and release, love it!

The verse II Cor. 10:5 goes with this because it tells us to take our thoughts captive for Christ!

We just have to let go and let him help us not to think or dwell on negative thinking.

Just because it pops into our head doesn't mean we have to continue to dwell on it!

Loved your post, my friend! thanks for the wisdom and encouragement.

(o.k., and i was amazed at the shoe price too, but it was late in the day and I think she just wanted to get rid of them).

~ Nan