I had a long conversation recently.  It’s a conversation that I have had so many times, with so many different people. A conversation about a topic that I’m passionate about, and deeply invested in. A conversation that I could so easily take personally and I wonder if I should quit altogether. A conversation that follows the same frustrating path and is never close to resolution.

But…I believe conversations can be worthwhile, even if again and again. And again.

So I had this conversation again, but this time I focused more on listening. Occasionally I added a little background or shared how I approach my part in the bigger picture. I affirmed the value of others involved. And I expressed my appreciation that she would share her thoughts with me. She apologized at the end for being “grumpy” and we laughed together.

***

After the conversation was over and everyone had left, I had another conversation with a couple ladies I trust. Not to gossip or criticize anyone, and not to vent my frustration or get them to boost my ego. Just to feel a little less alone in an uphill battle.

So I shared the facts of the conversation, not my interpretations of them. And I kept my feelings to “I’m frustrated”; nothing more. Then my very wise friend took a sudden detour during a pause in the conversation.  Did I know…

Researchers have found that 80% of our thoughts are negative. If you do the math, that means only 20% of our thoughts are positive. 

That’s not really an encouraging number! (And no, I didn’t know that).

Author, Jennifer Read Hawthorne, (Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World) wrote:

Negative thoughts are particularly draining. Thoughts containing words like “never,” “should,” and “can’t,” complaints, whining or thoughts that diminish our own or another’s sense of self-worth deplete the body by producing corresponding chemicals that weaken the physiology. No wonder we’re exhausted at the end of the day!  … The good news is, if you can recognize a negative or limiting thought, you can consciously choose to change it.

It was a sudden “fork-in-the-road” moment for me. I can choose to let my thoughts wander into another dark forest or I can choose to turn my thoughts to a sunny, spacious place. I’m not going to lie. The foliage has been pretty thick the past couple of years in a number of areas in my life, not just in the conversation I keep having over and over.

 It takes 21 days to break a habit and create a new one—not much time and a relatively small commitment. But the results can powerfully impact a person and her environment. – Jennifer Read Hawthorne

Several years ago I learned a few things about my thought life. Like how to stop pity parties from starting, or worse, spiraling out of control! When Hubby or my kids hurt my feelings, I pray about it. Right then! I can be as honest and raw as I need to be in that moment. God gives me peace and wisdom, and occasionally takes the shovel I’m tempted to use to dig myself a pity party pit, and whacks me over the head with it, to stop me from digger deeper. It’s a messy place, and the people around me tend to get splattered with the mud I’m slinging. Better to stay on firm ground.

What if I made a conscious effort to focus on the positive, and keep negative and critical thoughts in check? Could I have an impact on my environment?

I know I will never change the preferences or perspectives of everyone, in any conversation. But choosing to change my thoughts? That’s worth a deeper conversation!