The holiday season has the ability to do a number on us emotionally. There are often unmet expectations, unsatisfied needs, memories of better days, or even unfulfilled dreams or desires—all floating around inside that cranium of ours. If we don’t sort through and make sense of these musings, we can easily fall into despair or depression during the time of the year where we are told everything should be “rosy and gay”.
While I spend a great deal of time throughout the year giving you advice on nutritious food-for-your-stomach, today I’d like to talk candidly about what you’ve been feeding on in your private thought life. You see, sound health for a promising future is not just physical wellbeing, but it includes mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness, too!
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, anxious, angry, or sad many times—during the holidays, and throughout the year as well—I believe your thought diet is to blame. When I speak to friends or patients about this topic they often begin with the (incorrect) premise that a person cannot control the thoughts in their heads. My response is that you may not be able to control a thought from entering your mind unannounced, but you do have the choice as to whether you will invite it to stay for tea or show it the door.
In the Bible, 2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs us to: “Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” And in Philippians 4:8 we read, “Whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Scripture is showing us that we, in fact, hold the key to our own mental freedom and peace.
When practicing a skill, the more times you do it the easier it becomes to perform. Same with a habit: the more often you give into it, the easier it is to become derailed by it the next time. So it is with your own thoughts. Practice the good ones—the ones which bring you joy and contentment. Don’t waste a half-second on the ones that will bring you down the dark road of self-doubt, self-condemnation, or fear. Stand guard, be quick to change the “thought topic”, and your mind (heart and body) will be at peace.