Dear Lucy: I read your article last week where you told the lady to change her thinking in order to help herself get well. How are you supposed to do that when the facts are staring you in the face? The rent has to get paid, food has to get on the table and the car breaks down, the light bill is due, I'm sick and I still have to go to work. These are facts! I just don't know how they can be ignored.
Dear PT: What a wonderful question and thank you for it. You are correct. When you feel like you are at the mercy of the emergencies of the moment all you think you can and should do is pay attention to the things going on in your life that you don't want and try to fix them! You don't want any of this and it's all you can see.
But here is part of the problem. You get so caught up in your story about struggle that you tell it over and over with your struggling buddies. Now you are trapped in the "struggle bubble." If someone tries to tell you to change the story you say they are crazy, can't see your story, don't understand or care about your story. I am not suggesting that you ignore the facts of your life. I am suggesting that you stop giving those facts so much power. What you believe about your life is very strong because you are the one experiencing it. That makes it hard to step outside the story. For that reason, I don't suggest that you deny what is going on. What I ask is that you open the door to the possibility of a new "story".
I am asking you to change the way you feel about the story. How does it feel every time you tell your present story? It makes you feel bad. One bad feeling leads to another bad feeling. You do not have to have money to get money. And you definitely cannot get money while you feel poor!
By feelings I mean emotions. You can't get well while being focused on the sadness, despair and hopelessness that comes every time you tell your story about how sick you are. I am not asking you to lie. I am asking you to find the one thing every hour that you can be thankful for or find pleasure in and let that be your new story. If you are sick, begin to notice the moments when you are not in pain, or can get out of the bed or go to work or whatever is different and positive.
This is not positive thinking. It is paying attention, looking for and expecting a ray of sunshine somewhere in your life. When you expect it and look for it you will find it. Stop looking for "struggle".
I can remember being so sick I couldn't get off the couch for weeks. I got off by focusing on giving thanks for one step at a time. And I would replay the picture and story of that step over and over in my mind. If I was able to stay awake ten of fifteen minutes longer than the day before, I added that to my story. When people would call to ask about me, my husband would say that I was just fine. That used to make me so mad because I thought he was in denial about my illness. He challenged me to see the story that I wanted instead of the one I was living. He would insist that I tell him something I had found pleasure in every day. As I began to tell these stories to him of my small pleasures, I began to have more and more things happen that were pleasurable and brought me joy. I began to recover.
People say that "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer." That is true and this that I am telling you is why. Jesus said in Matthew 13:12, "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath."
If you are continually telling the story of lack and limitation, you will continue to get lack and limitation. I'm not talking about bragging but about agreeing with your right to all of God's abundance. Instead of comparing yourself to others more fortunate, begin to claim your new story.
Start telling a better, more pleasant feeling story about your life and what's important to you and watch the changes.
Feeling better already,
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS." Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or from her website.)