“You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.” —Eckhart Tolle
We have all been taught that negative emotions or feelings such as stress, worry, fear, despair, feelings of abandonment, feeling overwhelmed, helpless, etc. are bad. But are they? Do they have a God given purpose?
Connie in Coach Gary’s Office
We first saw Connie in We Feel What We Believe and then again in Just A High Priced Listener?..
Connie sat in Gary’s waiting room. She had religiously done the assignments he had given her. She felt better for awhile but it didn’t seem to last.
She was still very unhappy. Her life hadn’t changed any. She was still alone, working this little boutique and watching people from the window. As she watched the couple’s on the Square her loneliness came back with even more force.
Yes, she realized that she had accepted her mother’s belief that all men were users, but why does that matter?
Why Does It Matter?
As with physical pain, if we don’t have any discomfort or pain, how would we know there is a problem?
Now, living for an extended amount of time with emotional pain would be like living with a broken arm that was never set or any attempts made to allow the arm to heal properly. If your arm heals without being set it will always cause you pain.
Your emotional pain is like that broken arm. The pain will always be present.
When I broke my arm, the pain was excuciating. It told me there was a problem with my arm. Every time I would move my arm I would get shooting pain. I was, also, unable to move my arm without the use of my other hand. I had a problem.
Our emotional pain is much the same. Connie, for example, recognized that something was wrong. She was feeling afraid, isolated, lonely, and helpless. Over all, she didn’t feel her life was worth living, if she had to go on the way she was.
Connie learned that she had accepted, as truth, her mother’s belief that all men were users. Intellectually, she had come to realize that what she believed was a lie, but just acknowledging it did not change her feelings because, in her heart, it was truth to her. Years before she had accepted her mother’s belief as truth.
Connie, like many of us, felt better for a few days after the realization, but then relapsed back into her negative, depressed feelings.
For most of us, if we set our mind to it we can control our feelings and behavior, for a short time using sheer will power, but it doesn’t last. It isn’t real change, lasting change.
How do you make a lasting change?
Most of us can perform long enough to feel a change, but if it’s not a true transformation the old feeling will come back. So, to have lasting change we need to truly be transformed.
One of the first steps to tranformation is choice. You do have a choice in how you feel about what you are doing. Invest yourself in whatever you are doing and allow yourself to delight in it. In Connie’s case she feels like she is in a dead-end job, a dead-end life. She can choose to find some good in her life, now.
Connie sat in the waiting room while Gary finished up a phone call. She sat with her head down feeling worse than she had when she first came to see him. A magazine lay on the seat beside her opened to a picture of people playing on the beach with the words, “Explore the World.”
Once again, when Gary came out Connie was dabbing at the tears that had started running down her cheeks.
“Connie, come on back,” Gary said.
She slowly got up, closing the magazine and putting it back on the stack on the table.
“Bring the magazine with you,” Gary said.
Connie grabbed it as she walked into the office and took a seat in front of Gary’s desk.
“I see you’re crying again. Please tell me why?”
Connie dabbed at her eyes again before looking up, “Well, I felt good for a few days, but then the same old feeling started to settle in around me.”
“That this is a dead-end life,” she said looking down and dabbing at her eyes again.
“Nothing ever changes,” she said.
“What did you expect would change, with the realization that what your mother said was a lie?”
“I expect to feel different, to feel better, but instead I actually feel worse.”
“Why?” Gary asked.
“Well, I guess I expected some kind of change. Nothing has changed. I’m still in a dead-end job with a dead-end life.”
“So, you expected the world to suddenly change. Let me see what you were looking at in the magazine.”
Connied opened the magazine to the travel ad that read, “Explore the World.”
“Tell me what you want.”
Connie sat for a few minutes. Tears began to stream down her checks. She didn’t make any effort to stop them.
“Well….” she paused.
“I want to be happy. I want to have some fun. I want someone in my life that I can have fun with. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be shut-up in that little store or little room upstairs.”
She paused again wiping her face. She looked up at Gary.
“I keep having this thought,” she said pausing again as Gary sat quietly listening. “I’ve thought about calling James. I have his number. But, women don’t call men. What would he think of me? He can’t call me. I changed my number to unlisted when I moved here.”
“You have his number?” Gary asked.
“Call him. Now,” he said.
“Now?” she asked.
“What do I say?”
“Tell him who you are then play it by ear.”
She sat for a few minutes looking off into space then picked up her phone and dialed. James answered. Connie sat frozen for a few seconds.
“James, this is Connie.”
“Connie. I’ve been looking all over for you. I even looked up your mother. She told me you were in Knoxville, but wouldn’t give me you phone number or address. I really want to talk to you, to see you. I’m sitting in Market Square right now nursing a cup of coffee trying to decide what to do, how to find you. Where are you?”
“I’m in a life coach’s office down on Gay street. He told me to call you. He said you might want to talk to me.”
“Are you kidding? I’ve come down here on my days off for months trying to find you. When will you be finished? Can you come to the Square?”
“I’ll be there in about a half our. Where are you?” she asked.
“I’m at a table outside of Tupelo Honey’s. I’ll be right here,” he said. “Please don’t leave me hanging again.”
“No, I’ll be there. I promise,” she said as she hung up the phone.
“I could hear Jame’s side of the conversation. I see the look in your eyes has changed,” Gary said. “Even though you have identified a ‘lie-based belief’ and you replace it with the truth, you have to do something different if you want a change. You can’t sit in the same shop and looking out the same window and expect the world to change. You have to do something different.”
“As long as we believe that our pain is because of something outside ourselves, freedom can only come to us if our world changes. This freedom lasts only as long as the world decides to accommodate us. The truth is, there is no place of freedom for us as long as we choose to remain a victim.” – Ed and Joshua Smith
It’s a choice. We can choose to remain a victim or take responsibility for what we feel by changing our belief. Our beliefs can be changed, which in turn will change our feelings and our behavior.
There are changes we can make by changing our words and our beliefs. We can change our brain from negative to positive by the words we choose, which affects our whole world.
But there is a change that even’s better, a transformation, which cannot be made by ourselves. Only God can bring full transformation as we allow Him to renew our minds.
Rom. 12:2…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…
Once again, we have a choice to cooperate with God as He renews our mind or resist
His work in our mind and in our life, which hinders the transformation.
Phil. 2:13 “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure”.
For example, Connie, felt that life wasn’t worth living. She was a failure. Consequently, she felt disappointed, discouraged, beat-down, and depressed with herself and life in general. As a result she made excuses about why she was in a dead-end job, she would watch life go on below her in Market Square, she’d eat junk food and drink to numb the pain. This was her “solution” to numb the pain and protect and defend herself from the core belief that made her feel like life wasn’t worth living.
If I know the truth of who I am in Christ (my core belief), I will view the negative things that happen to me as an opportunity for growth. I will learn how to not just be happy, but have lasting joy and peace, which are Fruit of the Spirit.