Hey Friend! Are you choosing anxiety & distress?
You can choose abundance instead. I’ll show you how.
Our negative thoughts and emotions get in the way of abundance. My goal is to empower you with information that will rock your world and help you shift into greater abundance in your life.
Do you see yourself in any of the following women?
Amanda worries a lot. Simple things like driving in the dark, speaking in public, or flying in an airplane trigger insurmountable worry. What if I get lost? What if I forget what I’m saying and look stupid? What if the plane crashes? Each thought perpetuates the previous worry and she spirals into a dark place of panic she can’t climb out of. Her heart races. She begins to shake. She feels nauseous. Dread, gloom, and panic rush in like a black tunnel closing in on her.
Jennifer, divorced from her husband several years ago, isn’t really divorced after all. She relives the pain of his unfaithfulness in her mind everyday. When she interacts with him for his father visitation rights, she is vexed. Her conversations with others centers around all he’s done to hurt her and her children. She can’t seem to let go of him in her emotions and thoughts, even though it is a torment to her.
Carla immediate reaction to being cut off on the freeway is anger and not-so-nice gestures and scowling at the offender. Who does that guy thing he is anyway? Jerk! She feels the same surge of irritation and impatience when her kids make her late or her husband changes plans suddenly. Her irritation boils up and angry words fly from her mouth. She knows her anger is a problem but she can’t seem to get it under control.
Stephanie believes she is not worthy and her efforts are never good enough. She sets high expectations that she never can meet. Failure reinforces her belief that she isn’t good enough. Her fear of failure is so painful it’s better to just not try. Instead of really giving life her best effort, she is paralyzed. Feeling like nothing she can do will be effective enough, her motivation is squashed. Success and happiness are always just outside her reach.
Each of these women are not feeling the abundance they want in their life.
And here’s the hard truth: it’s something they are choosing.
What??? I know. That’s a hard truth, but it’s true.
ABUNDANCE IS A CHOICE
There is a small moment of choice we each can access if we want to. If we know to. If we will. We can master our thoughts and emotions instead of being a victim to them. We can choose to become emotionally involved with what is happening in circumstances outside of us or not. We can choose to create the life and reality we want through how we perceive our world. We always have agency with our thoughts and emotions.
This applies to all the scenarios above, but I’ll illustrate by focusing on anxiety and panic. You can apply these principles for whatever negative thoughts and emotion you are being overrun by.
There was a time in my life when I was shut down by anxiety. And if you’d told me at that time that I was CHOOSING the very thing I hated so much, that I plead with God to remove, and wanted to be rid of soooo badly – I’d have been angry. I would have told you you were wrong. There was NO WAY I was choosing anxiety. There was nothing more I wanted than to be free from it.
But I learned for myself that it was true. I was choosing it.
Psychologists, scientists, and thinkers alike confirm this truth. I know it’s true from my own experience. I learned for myself that I could opt out of anxiety and panic attacks. That they did not have to rule my life.
In this article I will share with you powerful strategies that I used to help overcome negative thoughts and emotions and choose abundance instead.
Recognize You Do Have a Choice
I WAS CHOOSING ANXIETY
After the birth of my last child, I suffered for two years with postpartum depression. As I healed from the depression, suddenly in its place I was having anxiety that grew into full blown debilitating panic attacks.
I tried everything I knew to feel better – diet, exercise, prayer, blessings, yoga, supplements, essential oils, – which all helped, but I remember the day it all changed and I truly started healing from anxiety and panic. It was the day I realized I was choosing this.
My kids were with a sitter and I was dutifully walking outside at a park as I knew exercise was supposed to help anxiety. I was listening to a recording of a message from a man named Charles Linden. In desperation I was willing to try anything for relief and I found his program on the internet and had ordered it.
I don’t remember much at all about his program except that he spoke the awful truth: I was choosing anxiety and panic attacks. I hated him for that. But I was desperate so I heard him out. And as I listened to what he had to say, I was shocked to realize it was true. Incredible! But true.
If I was being honest with myself, if I slowed down and really paid attention when anxiety crept in and I started to fall into panic, there was a tiny moment of choice. Somehow that place of anxiety and panic was my default reaction, a familiar place I chose. Astonishingly, it was a place of primitive comfort. A place of retreat and I’m-not-responsible and this-is-too-hard-so-I’m-going-here-instead kind of place.
I was devastated yet empowered! If I was choosing – for whatever sick reason – anxiety and panic, then I could choose something else.
Stop Spiraling into Negativity
I started watching closely and practiced identifying the moment of choice; when I chose to feed the anxiety with my attention and energy, or to let it go. I began to recognize the process in myself of letting one negative thought lead to another until I was spiraling.
Have you experienced that too? One negative thought triggers worry and that one thought suddenly grows from one tiny thought to the end of the world happening. The worst scenarios feel imminent and your body follows with dread and fear to match. But none of it has happened yet but we FEEL like it has. And we are spiraling down fast into anxiety and panic.
It took great courage and effort to not default to negative thoughts and emotions, that comfortable and familiar place. That place my brain wanted to take me.
Many times I failed as the momentum was too fast and I was swept down the slick, well-oiled neuro-pathway to panic. It’s hard to work your way out of those neurological ruts.
But sometimes, after a lot of practicing and working at it, and trying out my new-found agency, I discovered I could slow down the negative thought train. I realized that although my body may experience the uncomfortable physical sensations of anxiety and panic, if I chose, I didn’t have to invest emotionally and get all wrapped up in it. I could watch as a spectator and allow the symptoms to pass along without much upset.
Little by little as I was intentional and diligent, I could more easily locate the moment of choice and stop the train of negative thoughts that lead to the panic and dreadful emotions. I flexed my mental and emotional muscles one moment and one thought at a time. The distance between trigger and panic widened.
Now, this is not to say that there aren’t real physiological reactions that happen during anxiety and panic that I can control. Not true.
I can’t control if I will encounter outside stimulus and triggers that start the worry cycle of anxiety and panic for me. I can’t control that the neurological ruts that I’ve created through years of defaulting to anxiety and panic set me off physically. I can’t control my heart beating out of my chest or the seizing feeling. I can’t control that my mind gets fuzzy as fight-or-flight hormones course through my body. I can’t control the shaking and waves of panic when my heart drops. I can’t control the nausea.
WHAT I CAN CONTROL
I CAN control my perceptions and thoughts about whatever has triggered me. When I can reframe the stimulus I can become triggered less often.
I CAN control whether I empower the growing anxiety and panic by giving my attention and energy to the negative thoughts and emotions or let them die of starvation because I give them no heed.
I CAN control whether I allow myself to get wrapped up emotionally in the physiological symptoms of panic and anxiety, or to simply observe them and let them pass without much ado.
I CAN control which neurological pathways I allow to be strengthened in my brain: will I go the path of least resistance into anxiety and despair, or do the difficult work of forging new, healthier pathways?
I CAN control my diet, movement, and faith which all contribute to overcoming anxiety and panic.
I CAN gain skills and abilities as coping mechanisms for when anxiety wins, when I’m too tired or weak to overcome.
Because it does win sometimes. This agency thing is HARD WORK. It’s sometimes just easier to fall into the vicious arms of anxiety and panic. Maybe I’m tired. Maybe I’m already emotionally wrung out. When I do, I ride it out the best I can, forgive myself, and show myself patience and love. And try again.
The mental work of dismissing negative thoughts and forging new neurological pathways through changing mental, emotional, and physical habits has been one of the hardest things I’ve learned to do. But it has freed me!
Rewire Your Brain for Abundance
Now, I win 9 out of 10 times instead of none out of 10.
You too can be free from the negative thoughts and emotions that plague you. The work to master your thoughts and emotions is the stuff that builds character, that makes us better humans. It is what helps us overcome our natural woman and reach our highest potential. It is digging deep to overcome and become.
It’s this very work that expands the time between trigger and knee-jerk negative emotion so you have more control and time to react the way you choose.
And it’s POSSIBLE!
The Science Behind Choosing Abundance
The science behind it is called neural plasticity and “refers to the brain’s ability to change its structure and function by expanding or strengthening the neural circuits that are used, while shrinking, or weakening those that are rarely engaged.” Christopher Bergland
Our brains create pathways of energetic connection. Each thought you have creates a path in your mind. The first thought of it’s kind is like bushwhacking through a jungle. Hard, laborious work that barely gets through the tangled vines.
But the next time you have that same thought the way is a little easier. As you habitually think specific thoughts, the trail gets more defined. Pretty soon if you keep thinking that thought a clear path is created in your brain around that idea.
And your mind is efficient. Rather than hacking out a new path of thought, your brain takes you down the easiest well-worn path. This idea is described really well by Bart Baggett in his TED talk here.
This phenomenon can work for you or against you. When you are stuck in paths of habitual victimhood, worry, perfectionism, anger, or trauma, it is working against you. When you create and sustain habits of positive thoughts, this process can be our best friend!
Our thoughts, or the way we perceive ourselves and the world then determines our emotional state.
For example, triggers catapult me into an anxiety or panic reaction because I feel threatened by that thing. Negative emotional baggage lines the neural pathways of thoughts and ideas based on the negative emotion associated with that subject. As I travel that well worn path I’m automatically picking up that baggage and taking that negative emotion with me.
The idea is to ditch those old paths that are not serving us well and instead forge new paths lined with positive feelings that empower us. Paths that set us free from debilitating negative emotions like fear, anger, worry, and despair.
Truly, we can remold, rewire, and retrain our brains one neuropathway at time.
“Recent advances in neuroscience have shown us that the brain is far more malleable than we ever knew. Research on brain plasticity has shown how connectivity between neurons can change with experience. With practice, neural networks grow new connections, strengthen existing ones, and build insulation that speeds transmission of impulses. These neuroscientific discoveries have shown us that we can increase our neural growth.” mindsetworks.com
As you spend time on the new healthy pathways, and intentionally stay off the pathways that don’t serve you, the old ones shrink and grow weak with little use. You spend less time on unhealthy neurological pathways and more time living an abundant life.
The big take-away here is that you can choose to continue to feel like a victim… or not.
You can choose to be debilitated by anxiety and panic… or not.
You can choose to feel threatened… or not.
You can choose to stay angry… or not.
You can choose to keep beating yourself up with your thoughts…or not.
What You Can Do Right Now to Overcome Negative Emotions
Here are three suggestions to help you flex your agency muscles and build your personal power. As you practice each of these ideas you will start to feel more in control of your negative emotions and feel more abundance in your life.
MEDITATION AND VISUALIZATION
Start a simple daily mindfulness practice of positive meditation. By this I mean to take time each day to spiritually create what you WANT in your life. To visualize yourself choosing a different path than the one that cycles you through negative emotions.
What does it look like when you can feel peace and confidence instead of dread and worry when you are triggered. How does that feel to not be swept along the neuropathway of negative emotion and instead walk along the new path of peace you are creating? What will your body do when you have chosen that path? Picture yourself living and being the person you want to be even when the triggers come. Visualize this so vividly and pleasingly that you feel the positive emotions that come with being free from these negative emotions.
One way you can do this is to record in your own voice the things that make you happy. Your dreams, your hopeful expectations, the truths you know through personal experience and personal revelation about who you are and your potential, and what you know about yourself given in scripture. Listen to this recording everyday.
ASK EMPOWERING QUESTIONS
Instead of stewing in worry by asking questions and making statements that don’t serve you, ask yourself questions that actually empower you. The following questions make you a victim of your circumstances and powerless to affect change: “What if this (terrible thing) happens to me?”, “Why is this happening to me?”, “When will she ever change?”, and “Why can’t I ever get it right?”,
Empowering questions help you see what you CAN do, not what you can’t do. They put you in the driver’s seat of your life, give you control, and open up solutions. You are no longer a victim and helpless. You are empowered.
For example, instead of asking, “How is this ever going to change?”, ask “How can I make this better?” A ton of other empowering questions can be found in the Abundance Toolkit which you can grab below. Read here to learn more about empowering questions.
Get into the habit each day of presenting yourself with an empowering question. Write it on a sticky note and post on your mirror, on your planner, or somewhere else you’ll see it. Go ahead and answer that question the best you can with the information you have. Then, your mind will go to work finding answers to your empowering questions, presenting to you solutions to your problems. Solutions you can actually apply and make positive change with. I include these questions in my prayers, and between my brain and the Holy Spirit, solutions present themselves to me.
GET UP AND MOVE
There is so much research on the benefits of physical exercise on our mental health that it goest without saying that choosing to move your body everyday enough to break a sweat and get your heart pumping and your lungs breathing deeply will elevate your mood and help level out negative emotions.
But another way of moving that will help you in the very minute your brain wants to take you down the slick old negative neuropathway is to get up and move. Right now. When the distress, anxiety, or anger starts creeping in and you’re ready to slip into old habits, go for an invigorating walk. Go shoot some baskets with the kids outside. Run up and down a flight of stairs. Do a series of squats and planks, or go through a yoga sequence.
Moving like this – instead of sitting and allowing your thoughts to follow the path of least resistance – helps you shift from the negative neuropathway to a better one. The change is a jolting break in the routine of the old pathway that isn’t serving you and helps you hop on over to a new one.
Hey Friend, you’ve got this. I know the pain of feeling powerless against your negative thoughts and emotions. Do the hard work of crating new neuropathways. Practice your agency every chance you get. Instead of living mired in negative emotions, you can choose to live life more abundantly with love, peace, joy, confidence, and happiness. I hope you choose abundance!
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13 page printable workbook.
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Specific and personal actions you can take live life more abundantly starting today.