Thinking about your problems all the time can become a habit, and a bad one at that. It’s like that weird friend who comes to you with every single problem, but never has any solutions. You know what we’re talking about. The kind of friend who is constantly complaining about something but doesn’t ever seem to have any plans for fixing it. Rooted in frustration, resentment, and sometimes even anger, constant complaining will keep us anchored in our problems rather than anchored in God. Instead of ruminating on all of the things that are going wrong in our lives, we need to make an intentional effort to focus on Him instead. Let these seven practices be your guide whenever you find yourself dwelling on your problems instead of His presence!
If there’s one thing that will help you combat your problems-focused mindset, it’s gratitude. Gratitude is the act of being thankful for the things you have in your life, no matter how big or how small they may be. People who are gratitude-minded will often times notice a shift in their thinking and attitude. They’ll start to notice all of the amazing things in their life they may have taken for granted prior to cultivating gratitude. One study in particular found that practicing gratitude can actually change the way we see ourselves. Those who regularly expressed gratitude for their blessings had a more positive self-esteem overall. The flipside of gratitude is complaining. Complaining is the regular practice of dwelling on the things in your life that you don’t like or wish could be different. Cultivating gratitude will have the opposite effect of complaining. Rather than highlighting the things you wish were different, gratitude will focus on the things you’re thankful for.
Write in your journal
Writing is a great way to get out all of the emotions and frustrations that are bubbling up inside. Journaling is a very personal and therapeutic way of expressing yourself. It’s also a great way to work through your problems and come up with solutions. And once you’ve let it all out, journaling is also a great way to end the problem-focused thinking. Typing on your computer or phone can sometimes be less effective than writing by hand. The simple act of putting pen to paper can be very therapeutic in and of itself. You can write about whatever is on your mind or write about your feelings. You can even say out loud what you’re feeling, like a therapy session with no one but yourself.
Meditate on scripture
Another great way to let go of your problems and focus on God instead is to meditate on scripture. This is a more focused type of prayer in which you are actively thinking and reflecting on the scriptures. A lot of people use guided meditation on their computer or phone to help them focus on one particular scripture. There are also books and apps that are designed to take you through a guided meditation session with a particular scripture passage in mind. Meditating on scripture will help you focus on the love and peace that God wants to give you. You can read the same passage over and over again or you can read through a whole chapter in the Bible. You can even use a journaling app to look up scripture passages and journal about them.
Set a timer and breathe
The next time you find yourself getting caught up in problem-focused thinking, try setting a timer for five minutes and taking some deep breaths. The goal of this is to focus on your breathing and nothing else. You can also focus on counting to 100, starting at five and counting backward. The point of this exercise is to clear your mind, not add more stress by thinking through your problems. When you stop, don’t be hard on yourself. Instead, try to forgive yourself and move on, focusing again on the presence of God.
Talk to a friend or counselor
Another great way to let go of problem-focused thinking is to share your burdens with a friend or counselor. If you’re experiencing a lot of stress, anxiety, or even depression, this is especially important. If you experience any of these symptoms, they can be a sign that you’re dealing with more than you can handle on your own. A lot of times, we feel like we have to deal with these issues on our own and we don’t reach out to others for help. We don’t want to be a burden to our friends and family or we worry about the stigma that comes with talking to a therapist. Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to walk through this alone.
Write a list of pros and cons
Let’s face it: Sometimes, problem-focused thinking is hard to break. When we get into a negative pattern of thought, it can be hard to break out of it. A great way to combat this is to write a list of pros and cons. This is a great way to challenge your negative thoughts and put your problems in perspective. For example, if you’re worrying about your financial situation and need to make a payment, you can write down all of the ways that you are working towards a solution. You can also write down ways that you can rearrange your finances to avoid a late payment. Conversely, you can also write down a list of cons. But this time, you do so with your problem-focused thinking in mind. What are the potential problems that you’re worrying about?
Do something for someone else
One of the best ways to break the cycle of problem-focused thinking is to give. Giving is one of the most powerful ways to be present in the moment and let go of your worries. If you’re sitting there obsessing about your problems, you’re probably not doing anything to help someone else. You can volunteer in your community, help a friend, or even pick up some litter on the side of the road. You can also donate your time to a cause you believe in or sponsor a child through an organization.
There’s no doubt that the world can be a challenging place, but if we let our thoughts dwell on our problems and what’s going wrong, we won’t ever be happy. It’s important to know that you don’t have to deal with your problems on your own. And it’s ok to ask for help when you need it. While these seven practices may not be a cure-all for every situation, they will definitely help you gain perspective on your problems and shift your focus to God instead.
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