What’s Been Bothering You Lately? (Getting Clear and Specific…)


Feeling agitated and uneasy, though increasingly more and more common, is not a human being’s natural state of mind. Troubling and distressing thoughts eat away at our physical health and erode our sense of well being. Stress, which is typically first experienced in the mind, has been known to critically damage the delicate nervous system and even has the capacity to eventually kill its owner!  Agitation and unrest do not come from God as His admonition is just the opposite. So, what can you do if you find yourself besieged with troubling thoughts?

The first clue, in the puzzle of agitation, is to get clear about exactly what it is that is bothering you. In living life, you will discover that unrest begets more unrest and agitation more agitation. It’s like losing a fight. The greater the barrage of punches, the harder it is to fight back. Your job is first to get yourself quiet on the inside. Go somewhere alone, calm yourself down and get quiet on the inside. Do some serious thinking about your perceived problem. Can you identify what it is? You will find, in your honesty and your earnest, that most of the troubling possibilities exist not today, but in some future state. Therein is your next clue! Possibilities that threaten you or brashly proclaim the potential to take something from your life, are just thoughts which have no power of themselves. Their power is gained by your consideration and acceptance of those rogue ideas. Once the water of your mind becomes troubled, it becomes very difficult to see the bottom of the pool, i.e. the source of your difficulties. Step one is always to get very, very  clear about whatever is bothering you. Real issues have a solution or some action you can take about them. Phantom issues (fear) require elimination from your thoughts.

The next remedy is found in specificity. The problems that confront us are generally full of tentacles, blending and enfolding together, making it hard if not impossible to discern where one part starts and another part ends. The devil thrives in convolution. Complexity intimidates us and in our diminished state we mash it all together in our minds, leaving it to be dealt with on another day. Often, after you’ve removed all of the red herrings, the real issue becomes quite clear. Focused thought is a powerful ally, but requires a willingness both to confront and subsequently take action on the problem at hand! There is no tomorrow in problem solving. Each day spent half-in, is a wasted day, appearing useful, but defeated before it began. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways!” Get specific about what is troubling you, as specific as you can be. Specific problems have specific solutions, while vague, convoluted problems have no end!

Once you’ve become crystal clear on the topic and precise in your identification, you must do the one thing you never dreamed you should do. Give your problem to God! That’s right, hand it over to Him. Release your death grip on it and remove its claws from your heart. Demand the courage to let it go. Look, if you’re honest, the reason you continue to wrestle with some unseen foe is precisely because of that, it remains unseen. If you knew the answer you would have already remedied it. The deception isn’t found in the assault on your mind, but rather the ongoing assaults as you try in earnest to figure it out. Some conundrums, some complexities you are never going to figure out. You’re chasing the rabbit down a rabbit hole that has no end point. The source of your troubles is always a spiritual opponent; one that depends upon your reliance on your own human reasoning. Once you finally get it, as a great man said recently, you get it! You at last begin to understand that you must fight your spiritual opponent with something bigger than your human brain. Prayers are God’s way of offering you help with things bigger than yourself. And best of all, with God, nothing is impossible!

The reason we allow ourselves to get so worried and troubled about things in life is because we have forgotten how to trust our Creator! Instead of following His original plan of living our lives freely, joyfully, giving all of our cares to Him, we have instead hewed ourselves out cisterns; broken cisterns that can hold no water. We have systems and plans and procedures. We have technology and information and science. We have almost all a person could ask for, yet we lack the one thing we need the most! Our life was never meant to be a futile effort in self-preservation. God never asked us to figure everything out for ourselves or to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. People made that crap up; the same ones filled with worries and anxiety and stress! Instead God asks only that we learn who He truly is and begin to understand who we are to Him. Once we see the big picture, the troubles of life fade away like the lies and threats they have always been. Getting to know your Heavenly Father ends in your realization that there is nothing in life bigger than Him, smarter than Him or more powerful than Him. Then, my friend, you can finally relax. You can end the game of “wits end” once and for all.

If you find yourself worried, harassed, perplexed or vexed, take solace in this, God will hear your prayers and lead you to your solution. Your worry and stress simply won’t get the job done and you already know that. Your mental churning and broiling, your thinking, analyzing and thinking won’t lead you to the answer. Instead, hand all of it over to God and when you realize you’ve taken it back, hand it over again! The solutions to problems don’t appear in stormy seas, but only when the waters are calm. Let God calm your waters so you can see! Let God do for you what you cannot do for yourself! Rest…

Just some good thoughts…

 

 

 

Calm Down!


8431429265_f779ef2065_bI remember a time when my wife and I were talking to some friends and she said something that sparked my happy meter and forever etched itself in my mind. She remarked, “Tony isn’t like me, he has a calm mind…” What a nice thing to say! And I have to admit my mind is generally very calm, despite the occasional times I’m like a duck on the water, appearing serene, but paddling like hell underneath. (smile) So, as you may have already guessed, this blog is about cultivating a calm mind.

Before I highlight some key principles, I think it’s important to understand why. Your mind is the center of your life. It’s not just part of your experience, it is your experience. It’s the largest determining factor in how your life progresses. And, as the central hub from which your life proceeds, it has to be in order. Imagine trying to run a business with a thousand random papers and files all over your desk. Picture your warehouse operation functioning properly with no system in place. Instead of success you would experience chaos which may be an apt description of many people’s lives.  Good things, great ideas, quiet, gentle guidance, self control, and the ability to problem solve all come from a calm mind.

An agitated, upset mind is like your mouth when you leave the dentist’s chair. You’re drooling and biting through your tongue; your face is sagging and you are completely unaware of it. Or said another way, all kinds of crap is happening to you; affecting you; harassing you, but you are too distracted to see what’s going on. It’s similar to trying to find your ring at the bottom of the pool while the water is agitated. You’ve got to wait until the agua settles down before you can see. Ya get it?

You’re not alone in your anxiety because the whole world is in turmoil. People suffer in silence because they think it’s normal. Some have never experienced peace. But, you should know that you were not designed to live that way. You were specifically designed with a mind so that you could direct your life. You’re not an animal with built-in instinctual behavior. You’re a human being who needs a calm mind. Interestingly, letting everything go; being perpetually distracted and overwhelmed, actually reduces your life to the level of the common beast. You sort of sniff around seeking to get your basic needs met with no thought about what you could really accomplish or experience if you got your base of operations in order.

Stop for a moment to consider how many thoughts go through your mind in a day. How many of them are negative, critical or fear inducing? If you are inexperienced in controlling your thinking (and yes you can control your thinking), I would wager many, if not most of your thoughts fall into this category. “You’re an idiot for forgetting that meeting.” “Look how fat you’ve gotten you big slob!” “Why don’t things ever work out for me?” “No-one gives a damn about me.” “My stomach hurts. I hope it’s not cancer.” You can multiply these thoughts out indefinitely. What runs through your mind isn’t the biggest issue. The crucible that separates calm from chaotic is what you do or don’t do about those thoughts. You can’t crap on yourself all day long then wonder why you feel anxious. And trust me, it is occurring even if you don’t recognize it. You don’t recognize it because you are distracted and if you add up enough distraction, you feel overwhelmed! Simplistic? Maybe. True? Likely.

In order to find your way to tranquility, you have to do some work with your mind. The peace is already there for you, but you aren’t experiencing it because of those rogue thoughts you are letting go. Your primary job is to fight back. Challenge that assertion! For God’s sake, don’t just let it go. You may be a pacifist. You might be the most non-confrontational person on Earth. But, if someone keeps punching you in the nose everyday, at some point you’d have to punch back. Not fighting back parallels the distress affecting your nose region. You’ve heard of the calm before the storm right? Well, there’s also a calm after the storm is over. Peace comes at the end of the fight. You can gauge your success rate by how you feel. But make no mistake, like it or not, you have to take it on. It’s like quitting smoking. It feels impossible at first, but day by day it get’s easier. At some point you even forget you ever smoked.

Once you begin to win that battle in your mind each day, your calm returns like that ferrel cat you’ve been feeding. In that space of calmness; of tranquility; at peace, you can finally see. Not the cat silly (smile), the trouble when it shows up. You’re at last in a position to handle the issues on the front end. As you cultivate this habit, you get more and more accustomed to the peace. In your peaceful state you can sort out the issues; recognize your triggers; think through your problems objectively and best of all, hear that still small voice ever able and willing to give you a solution. You’re no longer distracted by the hundred-fold fears that assault your mind. You cannot be overwhelmed because you’ve been handling your business in the only time period you can affect – now!

Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this, in the ocean of life the isles of Blessedness are smiling, and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep: wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!”   ~ James Allen

Just some good thoughts…