Growing up, I’d always been rather controlled by the vagaries of my thoughts. It’s not that I sought negative feelings; but when situations arose that prompted negative feelings, I always felt powerless to do anything about it. I just assumed that there was nothing to be done except ride the wave.
It’s been so empowering, therefore, to learn that I don’t have to be a helpless victim of my circumstances.
One of the major themes of my journey through counseling has been learning that I can actually choose how things affect me. How empowering is that?! Rather than being held captive by the caprices of the moment, I can decide how something is going to affect me.
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been easy. The discipline of keeping your thoughts captive is one that takes a lifetime to learn fluently.
However, there have been some practices that have helped more than others. Here are 3 tips for learning how to choose your emotions, rather than letting your emotions choose you:
1. Say the truth out loud.
As a Christian, I know that I am valuable simply because I am God’s child. I don’t need any other qualifications than that. When I am feeling especially vulnerable, I will say this truth out loud, over and over again, reminding myself of my worth. Even if you don’t believe in God, you have inherent value and worth as a human being. That is the truth. Don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you differently.
2. Be vulnerable with people you trust.
One thing that I’ve found invaluable is to have a small circle of people that I can trust, people who I know care about me. When I am struggling with something, I will let them know. I ask them for encouragement. It never fails to lift my spirits.
3. Keep a gratitude journal.
I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for several weeks now. I’m truly astonished at the change it’s wrought in me. Rather than focusing on the negative parts of my life, I’m re-training my brain to remember all the good things, all the undeserved gifts I’ve been given. It’s been one of the most helpful, healthy exercises I’ve ever done.
What tips do you have for choosing happiness? Let me know in the comments!