Sometimes it seems no matter what we do there are lingering doubts, fears or anxieties that won’t go away. How should we respond?
Emotions give us valuable information. It is important to pay attention to them. They tell us to stop and think before acting. They warn of danger, reminding us to be careful and tread lightly. We may experience a gut feeling that is telling us something isn’t quite right. Before dismissing your feelings, take time to assess the facts surrounding them.
What is your brain telling you
Our brain is wired to keep us safe and prepares us to fight, run or stay frozen in a matter of seconds when it senses danger. We need to pay attention to authentic doubts, fears, and anxieties. Stop and question. What is happening? Why am I concerned? Am I over-reacting, or should I investigate further?
Past experiences teach us to be cautious. What did I learn before that can help me make a better decision today? Is this an appropriate response to what I am currently facing? Unless we stop and consider thoughtfully, we can become so reactive that we turn every little thing into something bigger than what it is.
While emotions give us defining information, critical thinking helps determine what to do. Emotions are connected to how we think and believe and interpret life.
Critical thinking is described as making an “objective analysis and evaluation” of what you are experiencing so you can form an opinion based on fact rather than just emotion. It is a mindset that allows you to take any subject or problem and analyze, assess and consider it thoughtfully and carefully. It is a skill we develop over time.
Seek additional information not immediately visible. Critical thinking questions “inferences and assumptions”. It checks for “relevance, significance, and logic.” Develop theoretical concepts that reveal a deeper meaning.
When we apply critical thinking to how we perceive ourselves, we will question outmoded but consistent thinking that views us as never good enough. This kind of thinking produces anxiety, lingering doubts, and fears and will look something like this:
- I can’t – I’m not capable
- I wasn’t able to do it in my past, so I can’t do it today
- Why should I try – it is never appreciated anyway
- I won’t measure up
- I feel like a fraud – I’ve never done this before
- They told me I couldn’t – I guess they were right
Critical thinking enables us to question those deeper more persistent fears that we struggle with. It helps us replace old disapproving thinking with new rational thinking.
- I don’t know, but I can try – I can learn
- Failure only happens when I stop looking for solutions
- There is a way to accomplish my goals – If I can dream it, it is possible
- My past doesn’t determine my future
- I can do this – I can find a way
- I have faith in God and I have faith in myself
A New Focus
A new focus affirms your abilities. You are a person of worth and value. Focus on God and let Him lead. He gives us faith and hope and strength and wisdom to take whatever life has handed us and turn it into something positive and valuable. Accept both your strengths and weaknesses.
Develop the skill of critical thinking. Focus on solutions rather than unsolvable problems. Look for choices and possibilities rather than unrecoverable losses. When we focus on what we can do instead of what we can’t do, we can evaluate situations and search for appropriate responses.
Your focus defines who you are, what you believe in, and how you have chosen to live your life. Within that focus, you become genuine and real.
Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC
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