What do you think about during the day? Are your thoughts mostly positive or negative? Do they consume and discourage you? Do your thoughts make you feel defeated even before the day starts?
I've always been a positive person. I'm a cup half-full type of gal. Whenever my husband and I are considering something (adopting more kids, volunteering in a ministry), I tend to think of the benefits first. That's what it was so overwhelming last year when I felt stuck in a never ending cycle of burdening thoughts.
“This house will never be clean again.”
“My adopted kids will always struggle their whole life.”
“I'll never be the mom they need me to be.”
Welcoming four new adopted daughters into our home did make it messy. They did have struggles, and I did question how I could meet their needs in addition to the needs of my other six children.
I'd have a few good hours in the day only to have something go wrong and send me into a spiral of negative thoughts again. I knew I needed help. Talking with a friend/life coach I learned how to change my focus and change my thoughts. Amazingly, controlling my thoughts also began to change my day. Not only did my attitude change, but my kids did too. And I realized then how much my thoughts had pulled our whole family down. Mothering mindfulness made all the difference.
The term mindfulness has been used with New Age philosophies, but God's been talking about it for a while. Psalm 119:15 says, “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.”
One definition of mindfulness is, “the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.” My friend reminded me that I'd been focusing on the wrong things and letting those thoughts control my whole day.
So how do we get our thoughts focused on all that is right and good?
1. Have realistic expectations. John and I added four more children (each with emotional traumas) to a home that already had seven people in it. Why should I expect that the house would stay neat, the chores would get done, and everyone would get along? When I expected there would be challenges they didn't blindside me. When I prepared with prayer at the beginning of the day everything went much smoother.
2. Block thoughts that include “never” and “always.” I learned to catch myself when these negative thoughts started swirling. I'd actively push those thoughts out of my mind and replace them.
“Caring for these children is more important than a clean house.”
“With God my children are finding healing day by day.”
“God will show me how to be the mom these kids need me to be.”
When my attitude changed my actions change, and I relaxed. My kids noticed and they relaxed. Amazingly, this caused some of their behavior to improve, too.
3. Be mindful of the moment. At this moment my oldest daughter is reading aloud to some of her younger siblings. My oldest son just got back to taking the youngest kids to the pet store. I'm writing from my bedroom, and I'm excited about the weekend to come.
I choose to focus on these positive things instead of the stack of mail I have to go through, the book deadline looming, and my neck that's sore from staring at a computer screen. I've learned to take time to appreciate—to be mindful—of the good things around me, without getting stressed by the rest.
God has given us these wonderful moments within our days, and we miss so many of because we don't take time to pause, notice them, and appreciate them. Yet I've learned that the more that I take time to find joy in the moments the easier my day becomes.
How about you? Do you struggle with discouraging and burdensome thoughts? Consider these three steps. Replace frustration with thankfulness. Doing that has made an amazing difference in my mind and led to more peace in my home. And thankfulness is a good cycle to get stuck on.
Tricia Goyer, TriciaGoyer.com