Repost - How do you engage with your thoughts?

2020-08-10 This post is over 2 years old

After you realize that ‘They Build It’, some conflicted feelings can follow. I discussed my own experience last week. But remember, you can choose how you engage with your thoughts. Whether it is a ‘disaster’ or just a ‘setback’. And more than just a choice of words is involved. You choose how you think, even if only by small degrees by how you engage with your thoughts. I recall a somewhat silly experience with this concept a while back. So how do you engage with your thoughts?

I was playing Dark Souls when I miscalculated a risk and died. This death included a new status effect ‘cursed’. Being cursed meant I only had half my max HP, making a hard game harder. Naturally, my first impulse was panic! I had to get out of the swamp where I’d been cursed, and get this problem fixed now!

Cursed Dark Souls Character Avatar

I could feel my stress rising, when my wife, who’s pregnant, asked me to make lunch because she wasn’t feeling well. I stopped my game and prepared a small meal. After cleaning up, I decided to sit and read for a bit, when my mind drifted back to the game. I was trying to puzzle out the best way to get un-cursed when a curious shift in perspective happened. Instead of a problem I had to fix as soon as possible, I considering the situation a new challenge to overcome.

This new thought turned my panic into eagerness and my doubt into readiness. A change in how I talked to myself about my problem changed my feelings and my resolve. No longer was I worried about the difficulty this new handicap had imposed. Instead, I was curious to see how I’d deal with the new challenge and to see if I could do it.

In professional life, we encounter many such problems. Changes in project scope, new customer demands, or even difficult coworkers. The temptation to lament our lot in life is always present. We panic, and stress, and worry whether we can succeed. I am particularly susceptible to those thoughts when an impediment forces me to change my meticulous plans. But you can choose how to engage with those thoughts. You can choose how you will think.

I first found the strength to change my perspective in my faith. Being Christian, I believe God is watching over the path of my life. Anything that occurs, He has allowed to occur. Moreover, I know his goal is to mold me to be more like his son. Any ‘negative’ thing which occurs can only be for my betterment. I can, therefore, choose to embrace these problems as opportunities for growth, as a challenge to overcome.

Whether or not you believe as I do, this same pattern of thought can be adopted. Every problem offers an opportunity to grow. Never in the same way, but it is always present. Growth is seldom comfortable. Growth is worth it. And It is up to you how you will meet this day, this hour, even this very minute. Are you ready to overcome?

Romans 8:31b - If God is for us, who can be against us? (ESV)

Since I first chose to change how I talked about my challenges, I have found this same concept cropping up all over the place, and other thought leaders. The Stoics are perhaps the easiest group to point to, and I have found some of their writing useful in approaching life’s challenges. They were a bunch of very sharp dudes! Recently I’ve been listening to an audio-book version of ‘The Obstacle is the way’. One particularly potent idea I found in the book was this: ‘That which blocks the way, becomes the way’. It is a choice of perspective, even more powerful than seeing ‘problems’ as ‘challenges’. It is an invitation to employ all your creativity, and skills in conquering whatever life throws at you, but using the challenge as the means of overcoming. I am still learning to apply this, but it just shows how truly powerful your choice is. Engage with your thoughts, on your terms! And see what potential lies before you!