One thing I learned when my son was a baby, was that as soon as I felt comfortable with how things were going, feeling like I had everything under control, invariably something changed, making me feel off-balance. I knew when he would eat or sleep, that he liked a certain stuffed animal or disliked bright sun. I knew what I was doing. And as soon as I felt comfortable and content, something would change, I was no longer comfortable and again, I was on a new path of discovery.
Have you noticed this? It feels like everything is OK, things are in the flow, then something happens! It can be a big or little change, but whatever it is, if it’s a difficult or unpleasant change, it can send us into a spiral of negative thinking!
Change is inevitable. Change helps us learn and grow as we handle life. Some changes are good, others we would much rather not experience! Frequently, change causes problems. Maybe we used to love our job but over time our responsibilities have changed and now we are stressed out or overwhelmed. Maybe we have suffered the loss of a loved one and adjusting to a new life is very difficult. Some have lost a job and now have financial problems. I have talked to many clients in the past year who felt totally out of control by their problems. It’s usually easier for us to handle one problem but when we start to have a few at once, we get into a pattern of negative, catastrophic thinking.
In catastrophic thinking, we lose touch with ourselves. We are tired of dealing with challenges. Small problems become big problems. We anticipate everything to be difficult. We fall into a “nothing is ever easy” state of mind. We have so many problems that we expect more problems. And when we expect more, we get more!
I was driving back from a rehearsal late one night and my mind was racing through my problems; my teenage son was totally out of control and nothing I did or said helped; I didn’t have a partner and wanted that companionship and support; my job was draining my energy, making it hard for me to get up each morning; my cat kept using the floor as a litterbox. I was living day-to-day because that was the only way I could.
As I drove, my mind was in turmoil. As much as I tried to stop thinking about all of the negative things in my life, I couldn’t. As I got deeper into a negative state with my catastrophic thinking, the song, “Count Your Blessings” come into my head. The words are: “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings see what God hath done.”
I’ve learned to listen to that inner voice and since I had time, I started to count my blessings: I had a house, car, job, health, a cat who love me J, my son was alive and he just needed to find his own path, there is a blessing in divine timing of a partner; I’m not looking for just anyone!…the list continued for miles and by the time I got home I was in a totally different mind-state.
Many of us have heard that expressing gratitude and counting blessings is a way to shift a negative mind-set. But until that day, I hadn’t really tried it. I’ve found that sometimes the simplest actions bring about the greatest shifts in perspective. Part of the reason we don’t do something that is simple like naming and owning our blessings, is even though we “know” it helps we don’t really believe it helps. I know I “knew” it helped but did I ever do it before this night? Not really. So it would appear that I didn’t really know or understand. There are a lot of excuses as to why we don’t do something but without the action, a shift won’t happen.
The next time you feel stressed out or overwhelmed with changes or problems, try counting your blessings. In counting your blessings you will attract more blessings and shift your mind-set into a much more empowered positive state.
(Count Your Blessings was written was Rev. Johnson Oatman, Jr. and Edwin O. Excell.)