Updated: Jun 22
I have had a very stressful life- starting in childhood. Chronic stress and traumatic events can set someone up for negative thinking. It's a challenging cycle to break. Retreating into one's mind and rehearsing past painful situations or creating new scenarios can help one feel in control when everything around feels out of control.
However, those negative thoughts are harmful to our health.
I used to be a negative thinker. I dwelt on #allthethings that had happened, might have happened, and what I should have done about it. By the time I got to work or home, I was fussy and difficult to be around. Complaining Connie, Negative Nancy, and Whiney Wendy all came from my stinkin' thinkin'.
In fact, dwelling on negative thoughts was instrumental in my health crisis. I came to a point when I KNEW I had to stop that detrimental-to-my-health habit. It took diligence and time.
Now, I'm finally free. Unless triggered. LOL, but seriously- the triggers are getting less and less. AND! I use the tool I'll share below to ease my way through the healing/ handling process for when something triggers me.
I have an ongoing situation that I had to choose to either make peace with or stay stuck frustrated, upset and so on. This and that wasn't changing- so I had to change. (I'm not sharing all the deets here. Obviously, there ARE times to walk away, move on, change jobs, etc. This wasn't one of those times).
Anyway, I remember a time when another thing happened, and I found myself slipping down that slippery slope of negative thinking. "If they would just... If this and that... this always happens..." then I became aware of what was happening.
My heart had started racing. The peace I usually felt was gone, and the familiar bitterness, resentment, and other yuck was present.
In my frustration, I wanted a way to reconcile the reality of my situation. I knew I needed to feel the hurt and disappointment (appropriately) and continue moving through the healing process.
I felt the following statement drop into my spirit.
"You can dwell on it or deal with it."
I'm a Believer. I knew that was Holy Spirit. So I sat with that profound statement as I acknowledged what had happened to bring about the hurt. As I thought about the action steps needed to "get over" what had just happened, I came up with how to D.E.A.L. with stressful, painful situations.
D.E.A.L. is an acronym I now use with my clients and me to help move through the healing process.
L- Let go
1) The first step is to decide. Decide to do what needs to be done at the moment to feel the emotions appropriately so that we can continue through the healing process.
Mental, physical, and emotional health promoting actions like ...
Choosing to come under a positive umbrella regarding thoughts, words, and actions
Feeling emotions appropriately
Guarding your heart (aka set boundaries)- as needed
2) Then, we evaluate the situation.
What really happened?
Did we play a part?
Were there boundary violations? Did we have clear boundaries in place and in force? (Check out this blog on boundaries).
Things like that. We look at it from all sides- including the other party's point of view. I'm not talking about abusive situations. Always get help for that.
3) Next, we apply the tools, tips, and techniques we know we need to do in stressful situations. Stress relieving techniques like …
Practice a simple deep breathing technique to calm us down and give us time to think.
Pray and ask for wisdom on how to handle the situation.
Memorize one or two Scriptures or affirmations that will help ground you in the moment so you can calmly do what needs to be done.
4) Finally, once we've moved through the process. Did what needed to be done. For our healing and health's sake, we need to …