Do you ever see yourself assuming the worst, projecting the worst possible scenario for a relationship or for tomorrow? Do you catch yourself setting your expectations really low about how others see you or how others will behave toward you? Do you try to protect your heart by always preparing for the worst?
When you don't understand someone's behavior do you assume the worst? Or do you tell yourself the worst about people who keep showing themselves to be trustworthy? Do you find yourself doing the opposite with people who behave in non-trustworthy ways, telling yourself that their intentions must be good or that you must be misunderstanding the situation in some way?
Welcome, once again, to the crazy world of carrying the scars of abuse. The great news is that we can grow out of this behavior. Here are the things that I am finding helpful in this process:
- Ask God for His help. Ask Him to help you see things from His perspective, with His eyes.
- Start spending most of your time with people who are habitually cheerful and positive.
- Put your negative diatribe on a timer. Give yourself five minutes to dwell on the negative. Then intentionally switch to thinking about the positive possibilities, the noble things, the things worth giving thanks for, and the blessings you can see.
- Write down in a journal what you will do if the worst turns out to happen and then consider the case closed, reminding yourself that in the non-abusive environment the worst rarely happens. But if it should, you've got it covered! It will free you to live in the present. Any time your mind wonders back to "what if...", you can remind yourself that you've already handled it--and return to living the present moment. It's a tough discipline, but it will repay you in pure gold.
- Recognize who the people are in your life that encourage your negative spiral. These are relationships to eliminate or to limit contact with. If you must interact daily (such as in your employment), then focus on taking good care of yourself. Change the subject when possible. Do kind acts for others to cheer yourself up. Surround yourself with messages of cheer and of truth (Bible quotations are great). Intentionally do things that re-fill your emotional tank.
- Exercise regularly. The endorphins released during a workout are proven to improve one's disposition.
- Post Bible verses that speak to you where you will see them regularly (bathroom mirror, closet door, by your kitchen sink, on your coffee mug, in your car).
- Journal five things you are grateful for each day.