choose your thoughts

by Joanna on April 9, 2012

For months, maybe even a year or more, after we got engaged, I still wondered when Mike would propose.  Things like surprises, dinner dates, random Tuesdays when he walked in the door after work, I’d still find myself thinking “maybe he’s going to propose.” I had been so accustomed to thinking this way, had been waiting for engagement longer than I’d been engaged and that thought pattern stuck.

The same thing happened with our first dance song.  After our wedding, whenever I heard our first dance song, “Just Say Yes,” my mind didn’t go to the dance floor at our reception, didn’t rejoice at how fun our first dance was even though it wasn’t planned at all.  I didn’t think about how Mike threw me out for a spin perfectly on cue as the song built up to the first chorus and everyone started cheering and whistling and we were both smiling from ear to ear.  No, when I heard “Just Say Yes” after our wedding I was taken back to my morning commute, walking up New Jersey Avenue to the metro, listening to the song on my iPod and daydreaming about my wedding.  I remembered my daydream—which was a little different than the real day (different hair, different dress)—because I had played that daydream, a montage of our wedding day, in my head over and over and over again for months leading up to the big day.

While these aren’t terribly detrimental thought patterns to have, more just strange, it makes me think about other thought patterns we can get caught up in and stay in even if realities change: body image, money worries, family concerns. “I need to lose weight” or “I have no money” or “My family makes me stressed.”

We can change our thought patterns.  We’re in control of our thoughts and what pops into our heads. In choosing different thoughts, we can re-train our minds and re-program our thought patterns. We can choose thoughts that build us up, make us feel happy or confident or comforted.

If every time you think “I need to lose weight” or “I’m fat,” you change your thought to “my body is beautiful” or “I’m strong” or “I have amazing arms/hair/eyes/insert favorite trait here,” that will become the prominent thought related to your appearance.

If when you worry “I don’t have enough money” or “I wish I made more” or “How will I pay for that?” you remind yourself that “the money always comes” or “I can re-work my spending plan to allocate money for that” you will believe that the money always comes when it needs to and/or you are in control of your money not the other way around.

If you anticipate “family get-togethers are overwhelming” or “my sister/uncle/mom drives me crazy” but then remember “last we time we laughed until we cried” or “my mom knows me better than I think she does” you’ll significantly decrease your chances of getting overwhelmed or irritable.

We can choose our thoughts so we might as well choose ones that work for us. It may take some time to get the new thought pattern to stick, to become the primary thought associated with an experience, a person, a stressor. But if we keep at it, we can re-program our minds.

Now I don’t catch myself holding my breath for the proposal that already happened because I look at my ring and remember the proposal and how wonderful it was.  That I have what I hoped for. And because I’ve started listening to Just Say Yes when I’m in the car alone and thinking back to our actual wedding, when I hear our first dance song, I remember our first dance and the happiness that is tied with the song. Mostly it makes me think of Mike.

Sometimes our thought patterns change because life changes.  Sometimes we have to help them get there. Sometimes we choose to change our thought patterns because that’s all we can control in the moment. And other times, our life changes because our thought patterns change.  But that’s a topic for another day.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jacquelyn April 13, 2012 at 11:39 pm

What a beautiful post! I recently realized I stopped thinking “I hate my legs” every time I’m on the treadmill and started thinking “I’m amazed at how strong my legs are.” It has completely changed my confidence!

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2 Becca Norelli April 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I have been really trying to implement these things in my own life since Bru’s Room in Boca. Antonio has been staying on my case about making sure that I do this and it really does work. I almost have trouble finding negative things in some situations now. What a transition!
Love you, Jo!

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3 Joanna April 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm

So glad to hear you’re being more positive! And seeing a difference! I’m proud of you!

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