E-couragement: Think About Your Thinking

January 2, 2012

This installment of E-couragment is presented by guest blogger Jerome Daley, ACC, DPM.

When I was a kid, my size 12 feet earned me the nickname “Bigfoot” among my adoring siblings. It wasn’t a big deal, but it did make me feel awkward at times. Years later, a man spoke to me metaphorically about the same subject: “Your feet aren’t too big; it’s your shoes that are too small.” He went on to describe how I limited God’s large purposes for my life by my own small thinking. One simple reality. Two startlingly different interpretations. One perspective led to shame; the other led to significance.

I tend to think about the elements of my life—my relationships, my work, my family, and the moment-by-moment situations of each day—from one particular perspective: This experience is good. That relationship is bad. This child is easy…or difficult. My boss is a *&%$…oh wait, I am my boss! But what if I could change my perspective? What if I could change my thinking?

Two days ago I had a birthday and turned 46. It was as good a time as any to think about my thinking. I realized, not surprisingly, that I had mixed emotions about turning over the odometer of another year. I felt some resistance to the idea of aging—not as young, not as physically agile, perhaps not as socially relevant. Small fears. Understandable emotions. Not a big deal…or is it?

My thinking is shaped by past experiences, values, personality, and many other forces. I don’t usually see how my perspective is shaped and influenced; I just experience the thoughts and feelings that result in a given perspective. And I often miss the greatest truth about my thinking: it’s my choice. How I interpret my experience is up to me, and how you make sense of your experience is up to you. We get to pick!

So I made a few choices this week about how I want to think about getting older. Is age a blessing or a curse? Is age the accumulation of priceless wisdom…or is it the loss of youthful bliss? And who is it that decided for us—and established the dominant American mindset—that youth is so great? Without realizing it, I often let other people choose for me how I should think, but no more. I’m taking that ownership back.

Our choice in thinking leads to two (or more) different paths. If I resist age, where will that take me? I can imagine it leading me to ambivalence, self-doubt, over-compensation, insecurity, and a host of other negative dynamics. On the other hand, if I embrace and value what age brings me, then I have an immense amount to look forward to. This year holds immeasurable gifts, just waiting to be unwrapped. I can’t wait to be 46; it’s going to be a brilliant year. And 47 will be even better!

Leave your comments: How about you? What choices in thinking confront you today? What are you resisting or dreading that can be approached from a radically different perspective? An empowering perspective. Remember, you get to choose, so choose well.

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