As I was preparing for this week’s show, I came across a quote that I had written down a while back, and it goes like this, “Two things to remember in life. Take care of your thoughts when you are alone, and take care of your words when you are with people.” And this is my theme for today.
As a coach, I find that many good people struggle with the thoughts they have about themselves, their abilities, their intelligence, their body image and their self worth. And, although I usually don’t dive too deep with them on these issues, I do like to remind them that in this life they have control over the most powerful instruments in the world, created by God and given to them, and that is their mind and their mouth.
I know I have spoken about these issues in the past, but a recent situation inspired me to address this again. There is an acquaintance who has dropped into the depth of addiction (so much so that he has lost his family, his friends and their families’ respect, his job) and, within time, he will—no doubt—end up in a very bad place, all because he didn’t guard his mind when he was alone and, in his angry justification of being caught, he didn’t guard his mouth when he was with people.
I don’t want to dwell on the final outcome of what is sure to be an ugly situation that is unfolding, but I do want to talk about using your mind to protect yourself from outside influences that could—if you are not careful—seep into places you have no business going, (and I’ll add a note of caution: the words you use and the damage you will do to yourself and others) if you’re not watchful.
I’m not going to spend time admonishing you about staying away from pornography, drugs, alcohol or excessive anything—I trust you’re not reckless—because, although you might not be a rocket scientist, you do know what the end will be like. Now, maybe you think you’re immune to the effects of your extracurricular activities, but just look around your network or on any national news station and see how the mighty have fallen. And let me just add, but by the grace of God, many of us have been saved from doing dumb things.
It’s not only the places you allow your mind to wander that can disrupt your life but also your words when you are with others. You know that I think words matter—words can hurt and words can heal—and you have a choice of the words you choose to use when you decide to cut someone down to their very core. And the worst part is, the more you know someone—perhaps a person who you once loved—the more you know just the place to stab them where it will hurt the most. Shame on you for giving in to you base instincts, even if you are angry with them. Does anyone really deserve your valuable words to be used as a battering ram? That’s worth thinking about.
I love the quote, “How beautiful it is to stay silent when someone expects you to be enraged.”
Let’s settle in and have a quick discussion about the power of your mind. Now, there is a difference between your mind and your brain.
Your brain can be touched and studied, your brain is made of physical matter and of blood vessels, nerves and cells and other good stuff and, most importantly, we know your brain is in your head.
Now, your mind is invisible, it is made up of the thoughts, memories and emotions that you have put in it. Shocking to know, but your mind doesn’t have a home, however, scientists do suspect it is in your brain.
Now you know that you, in a sense, have three minds—the conscious, subconscious and unconscious. For today, I am talking about your conscious mind and your choices in the use of your power.
I have always loved the quote:
Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny. Author unknown
Friends, you can mess up your destiny if you are not careful with your thoughts when you are alone. And I believe the issue of being mindfully vigilant when you are alone is because your subconscious and unconscious mind can really take you down the wrong path if you let it.
I used to hear my grandmother say, feed a fever and starve a cold (or the other way around), but it is a simple reminder of what you feed into your mind that will find a way out somehow, somewhere. You are not immune to the damage that your mind will force upon you if you leave it unguarded.
Your mind occasionally must be refocused to keep you away from the trouble it can get you in. Remember my saying, the body will go where the mind has been. It has happened since time began.
If you don’t allow your mind to wander in a direction that has no place in your home, your job, your marriage or your life, you can save yourself a lifetime of heartache; if you let it wander, you’re asking for trouble because you cannot outrun, outthink, outsmart the base desires that you allowed to fester and grow in your mind.
I flipped on the TV the other night and it was “Dateline” special and, of course, the camera caught, of all people, a pastor paying for services in a hotel room where he should not have been. Oh, he cried and begged for mercy and gave a bunch of excuses about his one mistake, and he’ll never do it again; what struck me was, without a doubt, he made that fateful decision in the quiet and alone of his life.
So how do you save yourself? Well, the key to success is to re-focus when the crazy thoughts come into your head. Not easy to do, but, oh, so worth it in the end. Save yourself, and turn away from the crooked path and find a new direction. I hate to remind you, but many times that means new friends who do not drag you with them into the mire of their mud. See, for many, the trouble comes in the alone. No doubt, many people do dumb things in crowds, but the alone is when the mind—which is lonely and wanting—will find an outlet for good or for that, oh, horrible mistake. Use your conscious mind for good to yourself and others.
Quickly, let me end with my favorite part of my topic today, and that is, the words you use with you alone or with others. I spoke last week about changing your life, and one way to do that is to develop a positive thinking mindset. You know, if you think positively, you’ll speak positively. Frankly, you can’t help it (and that’s a good thing).
What do you say to yourself when you see yourself in the mirror? Do you out-loud compliment yourself, your humor, your kindness and your charm, or do you kick yourself for all the things you think you’re not? Remember, What you tell yourself everyday will either lift you up or tear you down.
Choices, my friend, you have the choice to speak kindly to your soul, your heart, your mind and your brain…or not.
When you speak to yourself, if it is not positive, can you give yourself a break this weekend? Really, for two days, can you think about all the positive things you are and not the things others have said to you that you’re not? Hear me, this is not happy talk, but a real understanding that your words matter whether spoken to yourself or to others. And I’ll add this truism; the way we talk to children becomes their inner voice. Don’t you dare be the one who crushes their self-esteem because your life is a mess. When it comes to kids, maybe you should learn to be quiet or at least, as they say, be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already, and no need for you to add another unkind word to their brokenness. When it comes to kids, remember to open your mouth only if what you’re about to say is more beautiful than silence.
Mark Twain said it best, “Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see,” and, friends, your words and your vocabulary are among the few things you have control over, and how you use your words in the building up of others is a reflection of your heart.
I know that other people can step on your last nerve, and I know that you’ve taken it for a while now, and I know that you’re fed up with the lies that others tell and have told about, but that is on them…not on you. Don’t pick it up! Let their words lie in the mud, and don’t dirty yourself by picking them up and throwing them back. You’re better than that…even if they deserve it.
Two things to remember in life. Take care of your thoughts when you are alone, and take care of your words when you are with people.