Monday, May 19, 2014

STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.

What is your brain saying to you right now?  Are you overcome with negative thoughts?  Are you being self defeating?  Is your heart racing?  Are you flushed?  Angry?  Confused?  Anxious?

"An Anxious heart weighs a man down." Proverbs 12:25


Do you feel the hair standing on your head?  Does the slightest thing set you off?  Do you find that no matter what you do, or what others do, you find a way to criticize it or complain about it? Do you find that your head is pounding?  Perhaps you want to give up on whatever it is that you are doing?

STOP!

Stop what you are doing.  You need to take stock.  Are you in physical, mental or spiritual danger?  IF so: GET HELP NOW.  If you are not in physical danger, you need to take stock about what is going on.  If necessary write down how you are feeling.  Categorize what you are feeling and experiencing.  Describe how your body feels.  Identify the symptoms.  Become mindful of your negative thoughts.  While "I" may have made you mad, I did not put those thoughts in your head and YOU are the only one that can change those thoughts and feelings.

Be honest with yourself and recognize everything you are thinking, feeling and experiencing, but STOP those thoughts and thought processes.  One negative thought leads to another and soon you'll be drowning in a whirlpool of negativity.

LOOK!

When you are in a negative moment, you tend to stop looking around you.  You stop looking at others.  You are so focused on yourself that you have no clue what is going on around you.  You cannot put yourself in someone else's shoes if you are stuck in the whirlpool of negativity.  If you STOP! And then LOOK!  You'll start to see things around you that can halt your negative thought processes.  Look at yourself in the mirror.  Is your negativity plastered on your face? Is it pretty?  Do you really want people to see you this way?  Does this breed love?  Look at the trees.  Look at the sun.  Search for flowers and birds and animals with your eyes.  Is there something blooming through the cracks in the ground?  Is there a picture of a loved one on your desk?  Is there a card from a friend?  Maybe a smile from a coworker, or caretaker, or random stranger?  If you do not seek light and goodness around you, you will never find it.  It starts with YOU looking for the positive around you.

LISTEN!

Can you hear your heartbeat?  Thinking about it slowing down.  Can you hear your breath?  Practice slowing the cadence of your breath.  Breathe in on a slow count of five and break out on a slow count of five.  As you slow your heart and breath, listen for things around you.  Can you hear the birds singing?  Can you hear the wind? Leaves rustling? A clock ticking? The children laughing?  Someone else crying?  Have you looked outside the sounds in your own mind to what is around you?  Do you hear music?  Can you hear God over the noise of your own negativity?  Are you so busy reciting everything that is wrong that you are failing to hear what is right? Are failing to hear what God needs you to do?

Sometimes when you spiral into the whirlpool of negativity, you need to STOP.  LOOK! and LISTEN!

So where did this come from?  I found myself in quite a Manic Monday.  My anxiety level was high.  I was worrying needlessly.  I started out for a run to offset this, and I found myself criticizing myself on every step I took. I was soooooooo focused on ME, ME, ME that I started to perpetuate my own stress.  Sometimes, we make a bad situation only worse by feeding the negativity with more negativity.  When you are in a foul mood or upset, sometimes you spiral DOWN the whirlpool, when your feelings really were just floating on the outside.  We often make bad situations worse when we top one criticism with another and another and another.

I said to myself, "Anna.  Just Stop."  And I stopped. And then I categorized everything I was feeling and how it was impacting my run and I how I was breathing and the thoughts in my head.  And then I began to look around me.  I wasn't noticing the gorgeous day, the flowers in bloom or the trees around me.  I didn't see the butterflies or the birds or the bugs!  I didn't hear the wind, or my music, or the cadence of my feet on the pavement, because I was feeding my own personal whirlpool of negativity.

When I STOPPED!  LOOKED! And LISTENED!  I could hear God.  And it ended up being a very good run after all.  And I got a blog post out of it.  And I never would have had that if I had not stopped, looked and listened.