The last two weeks I have talked about guarding your heart in dating relationships. Today I want to talk about how to protect your heart from your own negative self-talk. From the lies that you tell yourself, which the world has convinced you are true. How can you guard your heart from bitterness?
Let me repeat the main principle to guarding your heart:
Fill your heart with TRUTH and cling to that TRUTH when the world tries to tell you LIES.
LIE There is nothing good in my life. I hate my life. I have every right to be bitter. Everyone is against me.
TRUTH Life can be hard, but there is always something to be thankful for, and it is our choice whether we decide to look for the good around us or remain bitter. It is possible to train our minds to move from thoughts of despair to thoughts of gratitude. Start small…I am thankful for the warmth of the sun on my face, the feel of grass under my toes, the smell of coffee brewing, my comfy sweats, the ability to breath deep, the joy of a good book or movie, etc.
I am thankful for the warmth of the sun on my face
Heart Protection By believing this truth…that there is always something you can be thankful for…your heart will be protected from the trap of overwhelming bitterness that leads to despair and hopelessness. In fact, I read of a study where participants interrupted their moments of anxiety about life by giving thanks. It was discovered that after two weeks of giving thanks there was a 53% decrease in their stress!
If research shows that practicing gratitude INCREASES happiness, optimism, and satisfaction with your life, isn’t it worth a try?
In one study, they asked some of the participants to maintain a journal recording things for which they were grateful and a separate group of participants to record things they found annoying. When the results came back they found that participants in the group monitoring things for which they were grateful had higher levels of well-being than the others.
It makes sense. Whatever you wire your brain to focus on, is what you are going to feel. Grateful people don’t focus so much on pain and problems.
I speak from experience on this idea of choosing gratitude over bitterness. After my son Fulton’s accident that left him paralyzed on his right side, unable to talk, and living in a nursing home, I could have chosen a life of bitterness and hung out there forever. And I’ll admit, there were days early on that I did. But then I started looking for the good…his nurses were amazing and loved him, we were able to communicate with thumbs up and down and have meaningful conversations, Fulton’s story started changing other people’s lives and the list goes on.
I believe that God tells us often in the Bible to give thanks because He knows that a thankful heart is a happy heart. The Bible says, Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances.
Next week I will wrap up the Guard Your Heart series exposing the lies we believe about our self-image.