3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Break Negative Thinking Habits

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“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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Ashley Jackson1 Comment