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Triggers

Triggers

August 9, 2019

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. -Aristotle

“I’m actually a very shy person.”

We all gaped at our friend in complete disbelief. Michelle, with her warmth and great conversational skills, befriended everyone she met. Her quick wit animated all of our gatherings and kept us in stitches.

Each of our faces reflected the same simple question:

How can you be shy?

“I noticed long ago,” she continued, “whenever I faced new situations or met new people, I felt myself pulling inward.” As she spoke, Michelle pulled her arms to her chest and began to shrink down in her seat.

“So I decided to use these feelings as triggers for a different response. Now whenever I feel tempted to close up, I decide to open my arms, extend my hand and say, in a loud and warm voice, ‘Hi! My name is Michelle. It is so nice to meet you!’”

Later that night, as I thought about the conversation, I couldn’t help but wonder: Is is really that simple? 

Truthfully? Yes and No. After using her system over the years, I find the process is simple, but the practice is difficult.

Phillipa Lally, a health psychology researcher from London, found it takes an average of 66 days to create a new habit. (A word of caution: since this is an average, we shouldn’t be surprised if it takes us longer.)

Any change in habit presents a challenge. In my experience, the most difficult ones occur within my own mind. Negative thoughts contrary to God’s truths can pop in my head without warning. Left unchecked, these thoughts lead to undesirable actions.

This may be one of the reasons the Bible teaches us to:

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2 NIV)

Over the years, I learned three habits help me do this.

Refrain:  I firmly believe Satan plays with the following concept: Don’t think about a pink elephant. I honestly never think about a pink elephant, unless someone tells me I shouldn’t. Suddenly, the more I try not to think about it, the more I see it in my mind.

The same holds true with worldly thoughts. The more I try not to think about something, the more I do. The best way I know to refrain myself from worldly thinking is to fill my mind with godly thoughts. A spiritually full mind leaves no room for ungodly thoughts. Memorizing scripture and listening to worship music help set my mind on things above.

Reach out: Thoughts are tricky. Worldly thoughts often begin as whispers from Satan. Because he mixes enough truth with his lies, his words sound true. Hitting me where I am most vulnerable, I don’t always recognize his deceit. When I reach out to a trusted friend, her objective perspective helps me flush out the deception and come back to the truth.  

Replace: As Michelle taught me all those years ago, when worldly thoughts threaten to invade my mind, I can use them to trigger a spiritual mindset. Meditating on God’s character, His promises, and His word ushers in a new perspective. By changing my focus, I exchange my lies for His truths.

Practice makes perfect. Maybe. It depends on what we practice. But practice does make permanent. Knowing this, we should carefully choose what we practice.

Excellent habits create an exemplary life.  

As I continue down the road, I plan to practice excellent habits. Wherever you are in your journey, I pray the same for you.

Triggers

August 9, 2019

Triggers

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. -Aristotle

“I’m actually a very shy person.”

We all gaped at our friend in complete disbelief. Michelle, with her warmth and great conversational skills, befriended everyone she met. Her quick wit animated all of our gatherings and kept us in stitches.

Each of our faces reflected the same simple question:

How can you be shy?

“I noticed long ago,” she continued, “whenever I faced new situations or met new people, I felt myself pulling inward.” As she spoke, Michelle pulled her arms to her chest and began to shrink down in her seat.

“So I decided to use these feelings as triggers for a different response. Now whenever I feel tempted to close up, I decide to open my arms, extend my hand and say, in a loud and warm voice, ‘Hi! My name is Michelle. It is so nice to meet you!’”

Later that night, as I thought about the conversation, I couldn’t help but wonder: Is is really that simple? 

Truthfully? Yes and No. After using her system over the years, I find the process is simple, but the practice is difficult.

Phillipa Lally, a health psychology researcher from London, found it takes an average of 66 days to create a new habit. (A word of caution: since this is an average, we shouldn’t be surprised if it takes us longer.)

Any change in habit presents a challenge. In my experience, the most difficult ones occur within my own mind. Negative thoughts contrary to God’s truths can pop in my head without warning. Left unchecked, these thoughts lead to undesirable actions.

This may be one of the reasons the Bible teaches us to:

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2 NIV)

Over the years, I learned three habits help me do this.

Refrain:  I firmly believe Satan plays with the following concept: Don’t think about a pink elephant. I honestly never think about a pink elephant, unless someone tells me I shouldn’t. Suddenly, the more I try not to think about it, the more I see it in my mind.

The same holds true with worldly thoughts. The more I try not to think about something, the more I do. The best way I know to refrain myself from worldly thinking is to fill my mind with godly thoughts. A spiritually full mind leaves no room for ungodly thoughts. Memorizing scripture and listening to worship music help set my mind on things above.

Reach out: Thoughts are tricky. Worldly thoughts often begin as whispers from Satan. Because he mixes enough truth with his lies, his words sound true. Hitting me where I am most vulnerable, I don’t always recognize his deceit. When I reach out to a trusted friend, her objective perspective helps me flush out the deception and come back to the truth.  

Replace: As Michelle taught me all those years ago, when worldly thoughts threaten to invade my mind, I can use them to trigger a spiritual mindset. Meditating on God’s character, His promises, and His word ushers in a new perspective. By changing my focus, I exchange my lies for His truths.

Practice makes perfect. Maybe. It depends on what we practice. But practice does make permanent. Knowing this, we should carefully choose what we practice.

Excellent habits create an exemplary life.  

As I continue down the road, I plan to practice excellent habits. Wherever you are in your journey, I pray the same for you.

2 Comments

  1. Charla on August 12, 2019 at 12:45 PM

    What a great story of friendship in Christ and how Michelle inspired you. Now you are passing that perspective to us! Love the ripple-effect of God’s inspiration 🙂 Your post is timely as I am in the throes of implementing a major routine change. I think I will post your three R’s in a visible space to remind me of how Michelle turned her triggers into a testimony!

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on August 13, 2019 at 9:36 AM

      Thank you Charla! I am glad her words can inspire others as they did me. As always, I appreciate your encouragement!💕

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