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Become Proactive Instead of Reactive

Become Proactive Instead of Reactive | FocusWithMarlene.com

The key to making good choices is the ability to accurately assess what is happening in the moment.

If our responses to people and events are based on old, outdated and inappropriate past reactions, it will be more difficult to become proactive.

Identify, Challenge and Replace

My last three posts have dealt with emotions and how patterns of thinking and feeling are established. Understanding how and why we feel the way we do can help us take advantage of opportunities. When anxiety, fear, or anger constantly overwhelm us, we will have difficulty finding the solutions we need.

How do we know if our emotional responses are based on the here and now instead of past experiences? We do that by becoming aware of our patterns of behavior and challenging the logic and reliability of the automatic thoughts and beliefs associated with them.

Creating and Taming Fear Dragons

Creating and Taming Fear Dragons | FocusWithMarlene.com

What scares you the most on a day-to-day basis? Are you concerned about your job, or your kids or testing positive for cancer?

Fears are normal and natural. They help us plan and think and prepare. But they can also become deep-seated anxieties that monopolize our thinking to the exclusion of problem solving.

Fears, like anger, can become excessive

They can appear like huge dragons or monsters threatening everything we do to the point where we no longer see options or opportunities.

The excessive fears we create in our mind seem just as real as any physical danger we might encounter.

Emotions That Get You Into Trouble

Conflict – “He Said – She Said” | FocusWithMarlene.com

Does anger, hate and discontent define your life?

Some emotions are more troubling than others, such as anger and hate. If you find yourself constantly feeling angry and resentful you need to explore their origins.

Such strong emotions over time erode your ability to think productively, make good decisions and accomplish your goals. And even more troubling, there are serious consequences to your overall physical and mental health.

How negative emotions start

But where do these underlying and constant feelings of irritation, anger and hatred come from? Why have they become my typical response to life?

Emotions: Blessing or Curse?

Emotions: Blessing or Curse? | FocusWithMarlene.com

What would life be like if we couldn’t experience the love and joy of holding our newborn baby, or that deep satisfaction when we achieved something we worked hard for?

And who can forget that exhilarating feeling of cheering for our favorite sports team or the pride you feel when your kids work hard at doing something well?

Life would be dull, boring and depressing if we couldn’t experience the wonderful panorama of emotions available to us. Even when we are sad and disappointed, we know that it is temporary, and we will return to those good moments.

But life can be dark and threatening – bleak and depressing if we remain in the constellation of thoughts that hold us hostage to fear, discouragement, anxiety or anger. After awhile we lose sight of the good feelings and good times.

How to Replace Habits That Aren’t Working for You

How to Replace Habits That Aren’t Working for You | FocusWithMarlene.com

Taking charge of your time and your life requires not only being aware of your current habits, but knowing how to replace habits that aren’t working. Taking charge means putting in place a new time management schedule that meets your purposes and goals.

It will require self-regulation and self-discipline. The word “discipline” often triggers a negative response based on our childhood interpretation of discipline. But now it is a positive tool allowing you to do the things you want to do.

Self-regulation doesn’t mean every moment is regulated in some way or that we lead a regimented life with no pleasure or down times. In fact, when you put a time management plan in place, you will find you have more time than you did before. You are able to schedule in fun and pleasant times as well as the accomplishment of tasks and chores.

Love

People sing songs about it, create movies with love as its theme, and try to find words to express it in books. But can we ever define love?

“For God so loved the world….”        John 3:16

What greater love can anyone have than sacrifice something of great importance for another who really isn’t worthy of it.

Can there be a greater expression of love?

Love. It is a gift – we can’t earn it, we don’t deserve it and yet we find it so hard to receive.

Last Easter I published a blog post featuring a poem written by my friend, Darlene Dubay. I am republishing it again because of its great insight and depth. Thank you, Darlene, for your gift.

How to Evaluate Which Habits Impact Your Behavior Negatively and Positively

As I mentioned in my previous post, habits affect everything we do. They are behaviors we keep in place because we get a benefit in some way.

But habits and behaviors have consequences. They might make us feel good in the moment but have a negative long-term cost.

To make habits work for you, it is important to know which ones keep you from maximizing your time and efforts.

For example, you may decide that this is a good time for you to go back to school and get an advanced degree or training. Before you do, it is helpful to know how you currently use your time and what you do on a regular basis.

  • What wasted time can be redirected?
  • What current habits would interfere with completing your course work?

Habits: Are They Working For or Against You?

Habits: Are They Working For or Against You?

We are creatures of habit. Habits are great because we don’t have to think about every move we make. It’s like being on auto pilot. But they can also keep us from achieving what we want in life.

We need to be aware of the habits that can help or hinder us. The next three posts will focus on understanding our habits and learning how we can replace them.

How did we choose the habits we have and what keeps them in place?

Connected to habits are behaviors of some kind. Behaviors continue because we get a payoff or reward that motivates us to keep doing what we are doing.

As behaviors are reinforced, they are repeated and soon become habitual. That reward comes either in the form of receiving something positive or removal of something we don’t want.

Making that Transition

Making that Transition | FocusWithMarlene.com

While it might be difficult to grasp the concept that setbacks can be one of our greatest life opportunities, it is when we are forced by circumstances to stop and evaluate that we can reflect, examine, and discover what works and get rid of what hinders our progress.

When we know what isn’t working, we can replace it with a new program that gives us the tools to succeed.

How do we start over when we feel there are no solutions to our problems?

When we get knocked down, we not only get discouraged, but waste our creative energy striking out or blaming others for our difficulties or distress. Remaining in that mindset takes away our personal power, and as we learned in the post on forgiveness, we can remain in a never-ending toxic cycle of bitterness and anger. Our focus remains on what we can’t do and not on what we can do.

12 Positive Affirmations to Help Bridge Your Past with Your Future

12 Positive Affirmations to Help Bridge Your Past with Your Future | focuswithmarlene.com

Bridges are incredible feats of engineering and ingenuity, rising high above deep gorges, over rivers and large bodies of water. I am fascinated by the ingenuity required to design such lofty and expansive works that are both practical and majestic; a combination of beauty and strength.

I like to use the analogy of bridges because we are constructing them every day. They make connections between couples and families. They bridge the gap between our past and future and expand our possibilities as we move from one venture to another.

We’ve been thinking about the stories we create to define what we are going through. We learned that we can change the narrative to work for us instead of against us. Setbacks do happen. But we can turn them into opportunities.