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!