Those who know me know that I am not the eternal optimist. One thing I have struggled with most of my life is seeing the positive over the negative. I was doing well for a while. Then overwork, stress, trying too hard to make a success of my music business (and earn the money I wanted to earn) pretty much robbed me of seeing the success & positives in my life. That negativity can make you feel stuck. It also doesn’t help that the world seems pretty much in turmoil.
In talking with my mentor, Nancy Moran, she said that focusing on the positive is the one thing I really have to focus on to take away the stress, agitation and hopelessness than can accompany one when going for your goals, dreams and purpose.
Each week she has me write a list of all the positive things in my life, no matter how small. It seemed like such a hard task, but since I have started doing that, along with letting some things go, the heavy feeling I had has started to lift. I am making progress and feeling less stressed about it. I am also starting to enjoy what I am doing more and more.
What about you? Are you dealing with negative thoughts swirling around your head? Are you feeling stuck?
Staying positive, and thinking positive seems like wishful thinking. Our brains are wired to look for trouble and things that threaten survival. This will work if there is an actual threat, but in daily life, it can really hamper our progress and our outlook. People who are pessimistic are more prone to depression and health problems. YIKES! On the flip side, people who are more positive have better health and make more progress.
So how do you combat your negativity? First thing is to THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT and stop negative thoughts in their tracks. Start to become aware of what you are thinking. Write down any negative thoughts. Then separate fact from fiction. Are you using words like “this sucks,” “I can’t do this,” “I’m not good enough,” “I always...lose my keys, fail, etc,” “I will never…,” “I am the worst.” Are you really? Are you ALWAYS losing your keys? Are you NEVER going to achieve that goal? If you answer yes & you feel stuck, then perhaps it is time to get some professional help to figure out why you are always so negative.
Once you become aware of these thought processes, it is time to start focusing on the positive. This takes a while and you actually need to train your brain to think this way. Every time a negative thought comes to mind, stop yourself and think of something positive, no matter how small. Even if that positive thing comes from something or someone else. For example: I see a cute dog in a car at Starbucks and he looks happy, which makes me smile. Or that I am finally writing my blog & newsletter for May ;) And I got a super cool music placement!
Write out YOUR list. Each day, maybe in the morning, set your mind straight by deep breathing and thinking of one or two positive things that happened the previous day. Keep a journal next to the bed and write them down. Then at the end of the week, review them. This sounds so simple, but it can be awkward and hard at first. It was and still is for me. But since I have been doing this, I start to see more positive things and can turn off or distract a negative thought.
Also, while the coffee is brewing each morning, I read a scripture, daily devotional or a positive quote before checking email or Facebook etc. This way, I feel like my mind is in a more positive space to start the day. I follow Joyce Meyers on the YouVersion app. Find a devotional that is easy for you to follow each day.
Positive thinking is within reach. What are some things you can write down RIGHT now that are positive? Take Action and do this daily. You will notice that your perspective and attitude will start to change. You will have more focus and peace! Here’s to a positive life! - Michelle
Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start having positive results. - Willie Nelson
I have had this conversation many times, I am sure you have too. And sometimes it goes further to Why do bad things happen to good people. It makes it hard to believe in a higher power, in God, in something good. It can drain our hope of the future, and drain us in general if we think about it too much. I love the quote of my husband’s grandmother: “God may own the world but the Devil runs it”. Ain’t that the truth! There is an inherent evil in the world that is always trying to take a foothold.
The bottom line is that we are at war. In War there are casualties. We are at war with the Enemy. And make no mistake, there is an Enemy. Who is this Enemy? The Enemy, plain and simple, is Evil. If you are Religious, the enemy is called Satan, the Devil, Beelzebub. If you are not, the Evil is an ominous entity. The War of Art calls this Evil force “Resistance”.
What does the Enemy want? The enemy wants to destroy YOU. The enemy wants to keep you from your purpose on this earth. The Enemy wants this world for itself and is in battle with anything good. C.S. Lewis gives this attack from the point of view of Satan in his book The Screwtape Letters.
Here is a quote that I like: “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts”.
To survive we must learn to recognize what this evil is doing to us. Sometimes it is not as evident, sometimes it is.
The ENEMY HIDES in the way we see the world and uses tools like FEAR, ANGER, RELIGION, POLITICS, PREJUDICE, PRIDE to keep us stuck, to make us question, to destroy our minds. All of this distracts us and ultimately keeps us from our purpose.
Ephesians 6:12 Says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”
So what do we do about it?
First and foremost, Pray. whether you are a believer or not, believe that Good will triumph over evil.
Time and time again that is promised in the Bible. Other spiritual leaders often talk about Good Vs Evil. The battle will not be easy, but it will be won. Good is a choice that we must make time and time again, in small and big ways.
There is a great study called The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer that teaches us how to fight evil through the study of Ephesians 6:10-18. Also other leaders have taught and preached about despair and evil.
Gandhi said :“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.”
Second: We must get rid of distractions (going down the rabbit hole of social media for example). How many times have you been sucked into someone’s facebook post, only coming out angry and irritated and having wasted time? Do you get obsessed with political posts? How does it make you feel after? Did it permeate into your life and distract you from what you needed to do that day/hour? Did the anger last for days? Put down that phone, don’t open Facebook and move to # 3
Third: We must sit down and do our work. Make a plan, create a schedule, do the work to achieve our goals. Making progress toward a given goal or purpose will step all over the Enemy’s plans to derail us.
Fourth: Not everyone is designed to fight all fights. If the state of the world today is making you angry, don’t just write a post to the world about it and get into arguments that go no where. This does nothing. It will leave you frustrated, and even angrier. Create an action plan and ACT! Action will help you to break free of fear, anger, and anything that the enemy tries to do to block you. Maybe your action is to NOT read any political posts, or go on a social media diet. Maybe your plan is write your congressmen and attend town hall meetings. Do something instead of marinate on anger.
Fifth: Be aware of what the enemy is doing in YOUR life. Remember, the main goal is to DESTROY YOU, to keep you from your purpose. (Even if you don’t believe in an evil entity what I have discussed can affect you as well.) Are you feeling frustrated? stuck? Do you knowingly or unknowingly distract yourself with TV, or other tasks, because it may be easier or you are too afraid to do what you really need to do to achieve your goals? Look around, observe your life. How is the enemy attacking you?
World leaders, spiritual and othert have spoke about good and evil. Here are some quotes:
Ephesians 18: “With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on alert with all perseverance and petition.”
Maya Angelou “We need the courage to create ourselves daily, to be bodacious enough to create ourselves daily — as Christians, as Jews, as Muslims, as thinking, caring, laughing, loving human beings. I think that the courage to confront evil and turn it by dint of will into something applicable to the development of our evolution, individually and collectively, is exciting, honorable.”
Buddha: “There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it.”
Pope Francis: “Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good... Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place”
"If you are not a better person tomorrow than you are today, what need have you for a tomorrow?" – Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
The bottom line is to be AWARE, of what is happening in you. The enemy wants to keep you down and will keep trying. So know what your triggers are, what gets you stuck, distracted and take actionable steps toward prevent those triggers and work toward your purpose.
-Michelle is owner of Michelle Lockey Music, Licensing Songs Academy and the course Fearlessly Alive. Go to www.licensingsongs.com for more information on the Fearlessly Alive Course. A course on fighting fears and going for your dreams.