“God does not give us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind.”
– 2 Timothy 1:7
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Before I returned to school to get my master’s degree in psychology and counseling, I had the privilege to work for a company that provided two-week training workshops to injured workers in chronic pain. The participants were mandated to attend before their workman’s compensation expired.
When they arrived, they were angry and combative. Yet over the two weeks, we saw a profound change in individuals – they had hope again. They began to focus on what they could possibly do rather than what they no longer were able to do. It was an amazing transformation I witnessed many times.
However, some participants refused to consider such an option, and remained locked in bitterness over their injuries. When we believe we are limited or have no choices, we experience hopelessness, helplessness, resentment, anxiety and fear.
But when we shift our focus to possibilities and options, our energy can be directed toward finding solutions and setting new meaningful goals. That requires a new faith – a new belief – a new dialogue or self-talk.
A New Beginning – A new dialogue
The greatest obstacle we may ever have to face is ourselves. It’s what we say to ourselves when faced with losses, conflicts or unexpected tragedies. The first thing that pops into our head is “Oh no. Not again. How will I ever survive?”
Life is not fair. It is unpredictable. And life might take everything away from us that we thought we could never live without. But we can. We can not only survive, but rebuild, creating a new promising tomorrow.
When we struggle and struggle and it seems we aren’t going anywhere, it is easy to get discouraged and give up. Yet it is within the struggles that we get stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Just as physical exercise is needed to keep our bodies fit and functioning, wrestling with life’s challenges using effective logical and reasoned approaches will develop a more proactive and productive life. We begin to realize that setbacks are opportunities to grow, develop, and find new ways to think and frame our circumstances and future.
Determining how you will respond to life may be the biggest and most important lifestyle challenge you ever have. Do a quick inventory of how you handled difficulties in the past. Check on whether that internal critic has slipped in again. Using your new understanding about affirmations, what statements of faith and belief in yourself and God can you put into the driver’s seat? Start repeating, “Yes, I can,” along with its twin, “I refuse to let this get me down.”
A New Focus
When I stopped teaching professionally, I decided to share my training and life experiences with others outside the college classroom. I chose the name FOCUS for my company’s name because it personified what I believed and what is needed to survive and thrive – a focus that establishes reasonable and attainable goals and helps us navigate through the battles of life.
Whatever you focus on you will become.
- On what you can do – not what you can’t
- On God – let Him lead
- On becoming genuine
- On choices and possibilities
- On solutions, not problems
Our focus in life defines who we are and what we believe in. It helps to establish our boundaries, set goals and define priorities.
We cannot choose what life is going to throw at us, but we can choose how we will respond to it. It is in our choices where we grow. We choose what we want to focus on.
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