Faith Mindfulness

Choose Your Beliefs: Set Your Course

“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

A common misconception we can be deceived to believe is that happiness in life is dependent upon our circumstances.  This perspective isn’t too troubling when things are going in our favor – as it’s typically pretty easy to find abounding happiness and gratitude.

But what about when life throws a curve ball and unexpected trouble or hardship enters into our lives?  What then?  Are we just doomed to endure strife and sorrow until our circumstances change for the better?

My own life experiences and the experiences shared by many others who have been through their own intense life struggles invalidate this theory: it just doesn’t add up.  In fact, I’ve found that some of the darkest seasons in my own life (such as my recovery from anorexia, which you can read about in more detail in the post My Undoing: Ruined for the Better) have resulted in some of the greatest moments of joy, happiness, and peace.

However, it is very easy to fall victim to the false claim that we can only be as happy as our circumstances, unless we choose to take responsibility for our lived reality by way of monitoring and managing our beliefs and thoughts.

I know some of you may be skeptical about what I’m about to say, but hear me out.

I truly believe you do not need your circumstances to improve in order to experience increased happiness in your life.  Instead of striving to change or run from any unwanted circumstances, you instead increase your happiness by changing your thoughts and beliefs and reframing your perception of the current circumstances.

I also believe this holds true, no matter what circumstances life brings.  It is very possible for an individual with a abounding blessings to experience suffering and dissatisfaction in life, whereas another individual may experience unexplainable joy despite his/her extremely harsh life circumstances.

We cannot control what happens to us in life.  However, we CAN control how we choose to interpret and respond to the circumstances we face.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with affirmations, an affirmation is anything you say or think.  This includes both positive and negative beliefs and thoughts.  Constantly throughout the day, we have ongoing chatter inside our brains: self-talk responding to the information received from the world and situations we face, filtered through our internal beliefs, ultimately producing our thoughts.  Thoughts and chatter inside ourselves of which that we are often unaware; and yet, it is immensely powerful, as it determines our interpretation of our lived reality.

Each time we think an affirmation (either negative or positive), we affirm and create our world with each thought. This is why it is so extremely important to not only bring awareness to our thoughts, but also examine our thoughts to choose which ones we want to keep and those we want to eliminate.

For example, if you believe you’re a victim and the world is out to get you, you are affirming that you want to remain a victim and your mind will laser focus on the negative aspects, trials, and problems that arise, resulting in a sour attitude and often grumbling your day away.  However, if instead you think life is created for you and view each day as a gift, you are affirming that each day holds blessings (sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden and waiting to be found) and even as challenges arise, you are able to view them as opportunities for life to teach you valuable lessons and improve your character.

By choosing to embrace the day with positive affirmations, you are saying to your subconscious mind that you are taking responsibility for your lived reality, and there is something you can do to change your life.  You are not a victim focused on life’s problems and short-comings; rather, you are a blessed recipient of one more day that holds promise of blessings, opportunities to learn, and joy to be experienced.

Refuse to simply go through the motions or play defense to challenges as they arise.

If you are not intent on slowing down a bit to remain grounded in the present and awake (to the world around you as well as your inner-world), you will likely find yourself simply playing defense against (or for some, attempting to escape) life’s challenges as they arise. You may find yourself succumbing to the busyness and “the constant chase” that will undoubtedly distract you: this may be a welcome gift if you’re currently facing a challenging time in life. You may find yourself simply “going through the motions” or tagging into the “rat race,” struggling to keep pace with (or perhaps outperform) your peers as a means of survival, or perhaps buying into the lie that achieving more money, more fame, more status, more (fill in the blank) will result in the lasting happiness you seek.

However, more often than not, falling victim to life’s circumstance, seeking busyness, and/or escaping your troubling emotions will merely result in emotional numbness.  While this will distract you from experiencing the uncomfortable emotions and challenges you face, it will also prevent you from experiencing joy and noticing the blessings that surround you.

Unfortunately, we can’t selectively numb emotions: when we become numb to the bad, we also become numb to the good.  Wonderful things, such as the beauty, joy, wonder, memories, love, lessons, direction, creativity, relationships…beautiful things that bring pure joy and purpose to our very existence here on earth.

Without having intention and choosing to surround our lives with positive affirmations, we set ourselves up for potentially missing out on all that each day has to offer…existing without really living.

Instead, we can choose to play offense and set our intentions for how we choose to step into the day.

I encourage you to be intent on squeezing every bit of potential out of today. Even on days when you find yourself enduring hard circumstances, instead of numbing or running, choose to comfort yourself by wrapping your spirit in the warm, welcoming blanket of positivity and self-acceptance.

Arm yourself with confidence. Stare your reflection back in the mirror and say to yourself “I love you – just as you are right now.”

Empower yourself with remembrance of the wins from yesterday and days past. You are an overcomer and have claimed victory over many battles and challenges along the way; so any challenges that arise will not take you down.

Light that fire of excitement for life.  Blaze forth, remembering that there will never be another day like this day.  Challenge yourself to live today to its fullest.  Refuse to aimlessly fall into the trap of the weekly grind, working hard Monday through Friday and then finally “living” on the weekends.

Each day is worth living, each day is worth celebrating.

Speak truth into your present.  Fight against any lies, shame, or messages telling you that you are not enough. Fight against the lies telling you that you need to remain busy and set pace with the rest of the world chasing after “more” to find happiness: more career success, recognition, financial stability, excitement, pleasure…the list is endless.

Fill your first moments with empowering truths, positive affirmations that set you up for success.  Affirmations and intentions that breathe life and love into your day, such as:

  • Today is a beautiful day. Today is for me, not against me. I accept today and all the events and circumstances that await me.  Even the challenging circumstances that play out today are purposed by God to teach me the lessons I need to learn and they help shape me into the person God desires for me to become.
  • I am uniquely purposed.  There is a distinct purpose, plan, and future that awaits me.  I do not need to worry about my future.  I can handle whatever challenges and opportunities arise today.  Tomorrow’s worries are for tomorrow.
  • I am forgiving, loving, gentle, and kind, and I know that I am loved.
  • I am grateful for the hidden gems that await me today.  May I have eyes that are constantly seeking and awaiting the beauty that is meant to be seen.
  • I am who you say I am, Lord.  I step forward into this day with confidence and purpose.  As You show me how You see me…I am grateful, I am confident, I am radiant.
  • I am a soul that happens to have a body, not a body that happens to have a soul.
  • I am not ashamed of my past. Everything has been and will be used by God to teach me, grow me, mold me, encourage others, and bring about His Plans.
  • I am a child of God and I belong in His family. I have flaws that still need to be changed and weeds that still need to be pulled; but I am fully accepted, loved, and valued as I am.  I am willing to reveal the places in my life and my past that the lies of shame tell me should remain hidden; for shame can only thrive in the shadows and vanishes when exposed to the light of truth and met with compassion and empathy.
  • I am radiant as I pursue what matters most and strive after the things for which I have been purposed.

Each day, we have the opportunity to embrace life.  We also have a choice regarding what we affirm in our lives.

Our thoughts are affirmations that create our experience.  Whether they are negative or positive thoughts that are affirmed into our reality, that’s up to each of us.

Choose to affirm yourself in positive ways.  Filter your thoughts.  Affirm the good, toss out the bad.

Join me in seeing the purpose and beauty in each day.

Want to make affirmations part of your day but don’t know where to start?

Louise Hay has been a “virtual mentor” to me in the area of positive affirmations.  Here is a recording from one of her many resources: I Can Do It: The Power of Affirmations.”

The whole video is a bit long.  If that overwhelms you, no worries!  The video is broken up into segments based on various topics, which I’ve outlined below (there’s a brief excerpt wherein Louise explains the topic, followed by positive affirmations for each area).  Take a pop into the video for whatever area speaks to you!

Health: 17:42

Positive affirmations for health:  22:10

Forgiveness: 23:55
Positive affirmations for achieving forgiveness: 27:49

Prosperity or wealth: 30:12
Positive affirmations for wealth: 35:50

Creativity: 37:37
Positive affirmations for expressing creativity: 43:00

Relationships and romance:  44:12
Positive affirmations for love:  49:46

Career success: 51:31

Positive affirmations for career success: 57:46

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  • Reply
    February 3, 2019 at 8:40 am

    Thank you for sharing this powerful word: “Unfortunately, we can’t selectively numb emotions: when we become numb to the bad, we also become numb to the good.” Numbing is one of the coping mechanisms I turn to when I’m beset with disappointment or frustration. I didn’t realize until I read this post that my efforts to numb pain are also preventing me from experiencing joy. I feel like I’m existing without really living. I need prayers for this. Thank you for exposing the truth.

    • Reply
      Rachael St. Germain
      February 13, 2019 at 12:44 am

      Laura, you are so not alone in the numbing department! I dare say ALL of us numb in some way, in some capacity. I used to think numbing the bad would make my life better: I though numbing would help me only “feel” the good and help me avoid the “bad.” What found is I just became numb all-around: what had been a defense mechanism resulted in my becoming distant/distracted, missing out on the present, becoming a “consumer” of experiences (only wanting to partake in those that were pleasing to me), and adopting a self-preservation mindset. I’ve also been learning how ALL emotions are worthy of being felt…and can be extremely helpful if we lean into them and try to learn from what they’re trying to tell us. No emotion is inherently BAD – some are uncomfortable, for sure – but even those that are uncomfortable aren’t necessarily “bad” if we choose to use them for good, strive to see the opportunity for growth, and uncover and heal from any underlying hurts.

      I will definitely be praying for you: I so know what it’s like when life starts to feel mundane and more like “existing” than “truly living.” It’s painful and can feel isolating – but know this: you are not alone.

      For me, some of the things that have really helped me start to experience my emotions and break-through the bondage of “mere existence” is quite time in prayer and meditation with God each morning (start small – even 5-10 minutes in silence or through a guided meditation…waiting to hear from God), listening to praise music, reading the Word (really digging into a verse or passage and waiting to see what God wants to reveal to me), and walks alone in nature. For me, those times are most conducive for me to break away from distraction and hear from God.

      I have been loving your “six days of splendor” on Instagram – I look forward to see how God uses that to bring you His joy. And explore other ways, too! Try something new, break up routine: that has helped me. 🙂

      Thanks for opening up, Laura. I’ll be praying for you!

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