3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Break Negative Thinking Habits

“We can’t live the same year 75 times and call that a life”. This quote and the idea around it is something that tends to drive me and if you are reading this I bet I could come to the same conclusion about you as well.

The premise is that if we are still struggling over the exact same issues, having eerily similar relationship problems year after year, still using the same old excuses as to why we haven’t started that thing we want to build or change, and every single year starts to blend together, something is not right. It’s time to sound the alarms, shake ourselves from our sleepy apathy, and ask the all encompassing question…why?

It’s no longer good enough to use our old go to excuse of “that’s just the way I am'“. If there is something about ourselves we desire to change and grow in and yet we say this to ourselves, there is more to the story than simply blaming a personality trait. No doubt underneath these feelings that make us feel less than there is a lie that we believe and instead of confronting that lie head on, we just act out the same old patterns. It’s what we know, it’s what we’re used to, it’s what makes us comfortable, even if we hate it.

This idea came roaring up into my face when I fond myself spinning into an unwanted sense of panic as I returned to social media. I was looking at people’s lives that I love and who most, I hope, love me, and yet I was freaking out. It was like my mind was sent into one of these old patterns and I watched it run away from me like a chicken with it’s head cut off.

Like a rodeo master, I felt myself take a rope and tie that sucker down. In my life I have been known for less processing and more reacting, something I am working on. So I stopped in the middle of the madness and first, made myself workout which immediately lessened the anxiety, then I plopped myself on a seat and made myself dig.

Why Ashley? Why do you feel this way? What is the underneath message you fear? What hurts you about this and drives you to want to run and do or hide? Every. Single. Time.

I found as I disciplined my mind to think through it that I feel that who I am is totally lacking. I want to be put together and respected, have enough and I found even below that, I didn’t want to be pitied.

What if everyone found out that I live in a condo, I don’t have a back yard and I have never had a home decorating budget and only even care about that maybe every six months? “Aww poor Ashley (literally), you would think by almost 40 she would know that a home is what everyone has and she is so far behind.”

What if everyone noticed that no matter how much I run and how much I seem to try that actually I have a thing with food, and, I still weigh the exact same and on top of that am still wearing the same old clothes from the last round of photos. “Eww look at Ashley, I thought she was trying to lose weight. Gross, get a new shirt. How poor are they?”

Hmm, I see a pattern emerging.

What if everyone saw the real me, with completely fried hair that stands up on it’s own like I’m Doc Brown’s long lost cousin. What if people knew I was STILL missing a front tooth, have bad skin, have drugstore make up?

Here’s the thing, underneath our triggers are fears and our fears are planted in pain. In my case I am scared to death that even these people that I love will reject me because I don’t have what they have, that I don’t look like they look, that maybe I wouldn’t possibly be worth knowing if I can’t run in their same circles.

As I got to the bottom of this real fear and pain I had an epiphany and another quote rose to the top of my mind. “We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.” I have never, ever considered myself to be like this yet in someway this is what I was fearing, this idea of being OK to “so and so”.

Then I had another thought, if they only like me because I can get my stuff together, act right, live right and be right than they don’t really love me, they love the show I put on for them.

Why on earth are we chasing people who are indifferent toward loving us?

Yet let’s take this thought one step deeper. Maybe it’s really not about them at all? Maybe it’s the belief that I have come to realize that love looks like performing? What if the truth is that I don’t need anyone else to judge me because I do it all for them? Maybe, just maybe, if I let go of the need to be the person that is more acceptable and was just me, I might not find all the people I wish would accept me, but maybe I would find the people who I really want. If there REALLY are people who we know will reject us for things as shallow as the things I’ve struggled with, they are NOT friends! Let’s stop kidding ourselves that they are. Let them go in peace and love and let God be God.

This is how we wriggle free from these patterns. Not by running from the feelings that make us feel bad about ourselves and our knowledge that we are far from measuring up, but stand there and face them and ask why?

No matter what it is, we have to trust God and turn and face our fears, this is the place of change.

Anything that we want to make big changes on that will propel us forward yet find we are stuck in usually have a heavy weight tied to them called fear. When we actually pull that fear up, name it, address it and realize that the messages we have been letting play in our backgrounds for too long is not truth we can start making real change.

So, let’s put this into practice right now.

Take out a notepad on your phone or whatever you have.

Write down ONE thing you have been wanting to change.

and then these three questions…

1) What does this make me feel when I think about doing this thing?

2) What is the story I am telling myself as to why I haven’t accomplished this?

3) What is it I fear?

If you can name what that feat might be then continue with these three questions…

1) What does God say about this or about me?

2) What is a different story I can start telling myself about this?

3) Which is a greater pain in the long run? Facing this fear or running from it my whole life?

This work is not easy or for the faint of heart, but it is worth it. So many people run from and avoid anything that makes them face what is underneath patterns of behavior but God sent Jesus for us to be free, you are not going to be one of them. He has given us all the truth and all the wisdom and He wants us to be free if we will only start doubting our fears and step toward Him in faith.

What about you? I would love to hear your feedback in the comments!

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5 Reasons to take a Social Media Break
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Have you ever felt like you wanted to escape this weird urge to hurry but you aren’t even sure where you’re supposed to hurry to? Ever wanted to know why you struggle so much with being content or why you feel generally bad about yourself? I have, and after just ending my third summer in a row of an extended social media break I want to share 5 reasons I’ve noticed that have huge benefits to stepping away from the constant scroll.

*if you know me you know that I love social media and that I will continue to use it. There are ways to do all these things without taking a break but these are just a few of the things I enjoy while stepping away for a while.

  1. You reconnect with who you really are rather than who you think you should be


No matter how well adjusted and emotionally healthy we are there are times when we’re just tired and it’s easy to start second guessing every decision we make and doubting if we’re somehow “wrong” as a person. 

We scroll through social media and messages slowly chip away in our subconscious minds that say things like, “she parents that way..YOU should parent that way.” “He cares about that, you’re a bad person if you don’t care about that.” “She’s more...fill in the blank...godly, successful, skinny, carefree and maybe the biggest underlying one...acceptable.”  

Often there’s something that says inside us that what they are is right and what we are is wrong and we feel this strange struggle between figuring out how to be right and being mad that we have to be different than we are or maybe it’s just me?

On most good days I am fine, but sometimes an ugly anxiety comes to sit on my chest that feels suffocating and screams, “you’re not enough! Try harder” and sometimes I do try and then I get really tired. I’ll work through it with the Lord and then something I see sends me all kinds of “triggered” into a blaze of self condemning nonsense. 

Stepping away for a while removes this feeling altogether. By not posting and not looking at others posts I am not asking for any kind of feedback on my life, I’m just living it. I found that I feel more free to explore all aspects of who I am outside of the realm of insta feedback. I grow and my soul feels rested in a way that makes me feel brave to grow and step out and really reflect on what I’m doing and what I want to do!

2. You creates space for other things

It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex that is social media for hours. Let’s face it, we’re a nosy bunch. As I came back onto Instagram and Facebook I found myself overwhelmed after I easily spent an hour catching up on just the last week. When I wasn’t scrolling on my break I did things I never do, like organized my house, figured out how to start a podcast, and read! I felt ridiculously productive and something I’m going to have to really continue to discipline myself in.

I often have to stop and ask myself what am I doing when I’m mindlessly scrolling? For one it’s a boredom buster for sure but if you’re looking to tackle a new project in your life, taking a little hiatus might be just what you need to focus on it.

    3.  It enriches relationships 

Not only does it take away the temptation to check up on what everyone else is doing when you’re with people, it forces you to connect with people in a different way. Even with our closest friends we keep up with them by double tapping their pics but we miss a lot of what’s happening in their hearts and lives. Taking a break means more questions have to be asked and lives be explored. You are also more fully present with your family and enjoying them in this life you’re living.

     4. Realizing FOMO is a liar

You will miss things that go on, you won’t be in the know, people won’t know you did, saw or ate something beautiful but it’s OK. You’re still alive, you’re just not proving it to anyone. We can not let fears, any fears, control us or dictate to us who we are or what’s truly valuable to us. Taking a break is often a great way to get you out of a cycle or thinking pattern and you realize life is just as full and beautiful even when you’re disconnected and there’s nothing but time to see and do and share all the things when you’re back. The rest and reset of our minds, hearts and emotions is so worth it.

       5. Creativity Increases 

With so much more space in your life you start dreaming and creating. Your mind isn’t automatically filled in the down time with other people’s lives and instead I found I was coming up with ideas left and right and compelled to start creating. Whether it was in my house or writing or a product it seemed that when I wasn’t constantly looking at what others were creating I began to open up to ideas that were in me. There was no feedback to tell me they were bad or wrong because I wasn’t coming across anything I compared them to. It’s just you and you’re little brain dreaming your wildest dreams unfettered. So many possibilities.

Clearly I’ve just let you peek into my own insanity/insecurities/struggles but I share them in case you might struggle with the same and the hope that if you’ve considered taking some time off because you feel like you might need to, do it. Everything and every one will still be there when you get back and listen to me, this is not a race, you will not lose if you rest. You’re a beautiful being who needs rest for your soul. Follow God’s leading and know He always blesses obedience anyways♥️

Have you ever taken a social media break? Let me know in the comments why you decided to do it!

Want to check on your soul and how you’re really doing?

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Obedience is often uncomfortable

No one has ever done anything extraordinary while staying perfectly comfortable. No one has ever changed or grown that way either.

If we had a box out of which we could choose the things that happened in our lives we would never choose the ones that were difficult or stretching. We’re geared to avoid pain at all costs.

Faith is uncomfortable, trust is uncomfortable, growth is uncomfortable, following God into your calling is uncomfortable. Loving when it’s hard, giving when it hurts, disciplining ourselves when we’d rather give into our flesh, all uncomfortable.

If we measure everything by whether it feels good to us we won’t get very far. But we walk by faith not feelings.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 #walkingreflections

Ashley JacksonComment