My 8-year-old daughter was having a bad morning. She has finally surpassed her entire family of 7 as a musician (it wasn’t hard) and nobody could answer her question about the names of certain beats. This upset the flow of her piano practice and being prone to anxiety and angry outbursts, she lost it. Things were thrown.
After about 30 minutes of not calming down she yelled at nobody in particular – “Why is this life so hard!”
Being the ultra-compassionate mother that I am, I found myself prioritising the making of 5 sandwiches over her feelings (which I may yet regret – but there it is) and I said the same kind of thing that frustrated parents through-out the ages have said – “You don’t have it hard at all kiddo! Think about the kids in Beirut right now whose pianos just blew up along with their entire house and most probably their entire family!” (Yes, I am regretting it now…).
But I went on – “So many people have it worse than you, but they don’t see it that way because they choose to see what is good about their situation, not what is bad. It is a choice, and right now you are making a bad choice!” (Oh dear, don’t you wish I was your mother?!?)
Do you think she calmed down? Do you think that helped at all?
In the end what did help was a cuddle and me acknowledging that she was really suffering. After that she talked, and we worked out that it was mostly from “bad news overload” from all the horrible things happening around the world and it was just that small thing that had tipped her over the edge.
What we talked about next – after we’d both apologised to each other – was how our thoughts create our feelings, and that she had been thinking of all the huge unsolved problems of the world all the time, so now she felt that everything, even the littlest thing had no possible solution.\
You see our feelings influence our actions, and her response to a tiny set back, even though it was inappropriate to that tiny little problem, was totally in line with her feelings.
Thoughts create feelings – Feelings influence Actions
I don’t think there are many people who aren’t feeling a little vulnerable right now. The entire world is on edge. We’re like ten-pins just waiting to see who the Covid 19 bowling ball will knockdown. Personally, every news item releases just that little bit more air from my happy balloon.
When my husband had chronic fatigue for 7 years the psychologists said to us – switch off the TV News – do not watch! It will only depress your mood further and you need all the happy thoughts you can get to fight whatever it is your body is fighting.
But with this pandemic there is a sense of ‘News Watching Responsibility’ – we are supposed to know what is going on – and since that changes daily we can’t switch off or we might miss an important announcement.
So, what I want to discuss today is becoming the director our thoughts because despite everything we still have that choice. Our incredible brains are so suggestible, they listen to our thoughts. If we keep thinking about how bad everything is, how hopeless and vulnerable we are, our clever brains will and give us feelings of distress and despair. If we direct our thoughts to wonder and appreciation of little things, our clever brains will give us feelings of contentment and joy.
These opposing feelings – distress or contentment, joy or despair in turn effect our actions. Contented and joyful people will minimize a problem and find a solution. Distressed and despairing people will create bigger problems for themselves.
This week I spoke to a client who months ago came to us in distress and despair. His thoughts about his situation now, are much more hopeful. His feelings of distress are so greatly reduced, that he announced very proudly that he had completely given up smoking! He is so happy with the way he is handling cravings etc, he said it was the best he’d ever done giving up.
We joked about the choice words he would have said to me if I had asked him to give up smoking when we first spoke months ago and yet now it seems effortless and easy. Now he thinks of solutions and sees himself as capable and he feels content no matter the situation, and because of that he has greatly reduced his debts.
Directing your “actions by thoughts” around your finances is as simple as changing your thoughts from “I’m bad at this, and I hate this” to “I enjoy learning about this, and I’m excited to learn more”, and making it a game.” Even if you say “I love this” your brain will believe you because in your brain, your own voice is the loudest.
Take time to reframe your thoughts about your situation and about the world, instead of thinking of what you cannot do to change anything, think instead about what you can do to make things better. What you will notice, when you change the way you are thinking from hopeless to hopeful is more strength, more energy and even more time to get stuff done.
When thinking about your financial situation or organising your finances, flip your thoughts from seeing the negative to finding the positive. Catch yourself when your thoughts are getting down about things and tell yourself you are excited about the creative changes you are making in your finances; you love that you are taking steps to move forward. Celebrate the small steps you are taking, and your brain will start to find ways for you to have more to celebrate.
It might seem a little Pollyanna, but we see this kind of change all the time in our clients at Debt Angel Solutions. I can promise you that when your thoughts change, your feelings will change and your actions in turn, will do the same.