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Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

We all have occasional bad thoughts during the day. That is natural.  We are human beings.  We are fallible.  We all have areas of weakness.  Some of us are prone to angry thoughts.  Others fall prey to self-pity.  My weakness is being judgmental.  For instance, if I am waiting for someone to back out of a parking spot, and they are taking a long time, my first thought is, “My goodness. How does that person get through life if getting out of a parking spot is hard?”  I know. That isn’t very nice.  And I can assure you, that is on the mild end of the judgmental thoughts that whir through my head during the day.

While we can work at improving our attitudes and reducing our bad thoughts, we aren’t going to eliminate them completely. But we can try to control whether we act on those thoughts. For example, just because I have a bad thought about someone, that doesn’t mean I have to share it with them.  Just because I am feeling badly about my circumstances, that doesn’t mean I need to drown my sorrows in food, alcohol or drugs.  And just because someone is pushing my buttons and saying unkind things to me, that doesn’t mean that I need to respond in anger.

It is our actions that define who we are. We are kind or unkind based on what we say to others.  We are honest or dishonest based on whether we tell the truth.  We are gentle or violent based on how we physically treat other people and creatures.  And we are generous or self-centered based what we do for others.  We aren’t defined by our thoughts, our beliefs, our political party or our religion. We are defined by what we do.

So it is important to give ourselves a break about our bad thoughts. We all have them.  Instead, we need to focus on our actions.  Specifically, we need to pay attention to how we act when we are struggling with thoughts that aren’t so great.  To that end, below are some strategies to help you prevent your bad thoughts from becoming bad deeds.

  1. Implement the 24-Hour Rule: It is natural to have a strong reaction to another person’s unpleasant words or behavior. However, we should never act on a reaction. Instead, take a deep breath, walk away from that person, and get your mind on something positive. If after 24 hours the matter still bothers you, then address it with him or her. Very often, you will find that after 24 hours you will have completely forgotten about the issue.
  2. Treat the Situation as Information:  From time to time, I have to deal with people who aren’t very nice. We all do.  But instead of firing back at someone who acts meanly, I try not to react. Instead, I use that behavior as information. I now know that that person is prone to meanness. So I will continue to be kind to them because that is what God has called me to do. However, I also will keep them at arm’s length because I now know that they are unreliable
  3. Begin to Forgive with a Good Deed:  Forgiveness is a process. We don’t just forgive another person in one smooth step.  It takes time.  And mulling over how you’ve been wronged doesn’t help matters. Instead, begin the forgiveness process by doing something nice for the other person. For instance, if you are upset with your spouse, but you really want to forgive him or her, get that person a cup of tea. Hopefully, he or she will respond appreciatively, and your heart will soften up a bit. You’ll then be on the road to releasing your grievance.
  4. When Having Negative Thoughts, Do Something Positive: Some of our bad thoughts take the form of “Woe is me.” We all have those self-pitying thoughts from time to time. The best thing you can do to change feelings of hopelessness or discouragement is to do something positive. Do something that you are good at. Help out a friend. Don’t just seek out a distraction, like the Internet or television. That won’t change your mood; it just will put it on hold. You need to accomplish something positive to remind yourself of how capable and wonderful you are!
  5. Remember That You Are A Child of God: Has your child ever done something ridiculous in public? If so, you know how frustrating that is. Your child represents you in public. In the same way, we are children of God. We represent Him on this earth. Because we are His representatives, no matter how bad our day is, no matter what bad thoughts we are having, we need to be careful of how we act. Everything we do, whether in public or in private, should be in keeping with how He would like us to act. So when you are about to act on a bad thought, think about the fact that you are a child of God. Remember that He loves you. Remember how much He has done for you. As a result, you owe it to Him to be your best.

Bad thoughts are a natural and inevitable part of being alive. So don’t beat yourself up when you have them.  Instead, focus on your actions.  Learn to do good deeds, even when you are struggling with bad thoughts.  Because ultimately how we act is the true measure of who we are.

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