“My mind is a neighborhood I try not to go into alone.” ― Anne Lamott

It took me until college or maybe even beyond to understand that I am able to control my thoughts. I wrongly believed that the self-talk in my head wasn’t a big deal and that it didn’t really matter what I was reading, hearing, watching, or consuming. Well, it turns out what you think about greatly defines and affects you. For the past months, I have been in a continuous laundry-cycle of hormonal craziness. I don’t feel like myself. I’m not thinking like myself, and I’m generally melancholy about the whole ordeal.
Since taking a firmer grip on my physical health and my food choices, I am noticing a great improvement. But. 

But, I am still in a repeating cycle of negativity and overwhelm and internal chaos. Before you start calling doctors on my behalf, know that I am already under the care of several (read: FOUR) licensed medical personnel. I am in no way an expert on mental health or really any health-related issue, but I want to share my experiences so that I have a record to remember and re-learn, and just in case my vulnerability could potentially help. 

I am making progress and moving forward to better health. I’m defining health in this season, as back to me. Back to feeling like myself, thinking like myself, and having the physical energy and stamina to match what’s in my heart and head to do. It’s as simple as not thinking twice about preparing a well-known meal, or even waking up on my own without pain, without drudgery, and without a second thought to actually get out of bed.

I am moving forward; I have made strides in my morning energy-levels. But, there’s MORE. I just realized today, after reading some of my previous posts, that I am not actively training my thoughts on goodness, on thankfulness, on the JOY that is present in each day. In short, I have just been agreeing with all the thoughts in my head, and not choosing to change them. Let me give some examples –

Okay, here’s a typical conversation in my head: Alarm goes off. Here we go, time to get up. What am I going to wear? Nothing fits right. I wish I was more active. I need to be working out. That’s it. Put on workout gear, move your body. Get fit. Still lying in bed. Shelbie, you need to get up. Fix breakfast; what else is on the agenda? Ugh. Is Jeb working late tonight? Do we even have groceries? Cereal. The kids will eat cereal. You can’t eat cereal. It’s still dark. Must I get up? Finally out of bed. Handle all kid responsibilities. Why am I so tired? Didn’t I sleep well? I am so groggy. This is so hard. How are you not good at this? You should become a morning person. Just finish the next thing. Finish one task. Stop getting distracted. FINISH a task. Okay, there. You did it. You completed breakfast. I’m exhausted. Why is this hard? This shouldn’t be difficult, right? That was much harder than it should be. Other moms probably sing in the mornings to their kids… Whatever. Did Cade do his homework? I’m not even up for that. Can’t handle. One. More. Thing.

So all that thinking is obviously happening simultaneously to all the chores, all the conversations, and all the routines that I naturally go through. My thinking isn’t awful. It’s not usually really bad or judgmental or evil. In fact, this seems pretty tame. Granted it is first thing in the morning, but all those thoughts aren’t really anything to be overly-concerned about. But, it is. Most of my self-talk is demeaning, and accusatory (You probably need to hear the tone to get the full picture!). I’m rarely gracious with myself or kind. In fact, I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever been really great at coaching myself. I tend to be overly-critical, and much more harsh in my estimation of myself and my performance. 

Knowing this about me, when my internal, first thing in the morning, self-talk is already starting out with a bang – about how inadequate, tired, and lazy I am, it most definitely puts a damper on my mood. Consequently, I find myself even deeper in that cycle of hormonal awfulness and then don’t really want to engage with the world or my children, and would much prefer to park myself on our couch, in isolation. Y’all. This is crazy town. 

When I start my day reaching for my phone, I have a choice. I can peruse Facebook and Instagram or I can choose to pray. I can open my Bible app and read, or begin the day with worship music. It’s quite obvious, but let me explain what happens when I don’t think for myself, and start scrolling through my newsfeed. For starters, I am somehow friends with very vocal proponents of each major political candidate… I’m not going to delve into all the opinions, but my very real response first thing in the morning is a heated face and quickening pulse and an instinctive impulse to RIGHT all the WRONGS in their thinking. 

This happened just last week. Before my children were awake, before I even sat up in bed, I grabbed my phone to turn off the alarm, let it linger in my grasp and began flipping through Facebook. I was so peeved before my feet ever hit the ground. With what am I filling my mind? Conversely, when my morning thoughts are on thankfulness for a new day, hope abounds. It should be a no-brainer, but sadly, it’s taken me way too long to notice the pattern.

Jeb and I listened to a fantastic teaching earlier this year and the phrase that grabbed us both was this, “Make sure you are waking up FOR your day and not TO your day.”

For me, waking up “for my day” looks a lot like spending time with Jesus. Soaking with worship music playing, training my thoughts to be on higher, heavenly things, things that take faith to believe. It’s a quiet morning getting myself ready, unhurried, and being gracious and kind to myself. Not lamenting my body, or cursing my clothes. 

Joy is playing a huge role in my life. I am trying to infuse more laughter and smiles into my day, and actively combatting negativity within my mind. I’m currently reading a short snippet of a book called Possessing Joy and each sentence is packing a punch. Hopefully, by filling my mind with JOY, joy will be the by-product, and it will begin to sink in. 

What’s your morning routine look like? Do you hop out of bed fully energized and jazzed for the day? Do you have any sanity-saver tips that make your morning? Share in the comments and let’s get this conversation going. 😊

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