I love water. I love drinking it and looking at it. I love seeing the ripples water makes when you throw a pebble in a standing pond or the ripples from the cascading water down a brook or the massive ripples of waves in the ocean. God’s beauty is astounding.
I love feeling water on my skin. I’m sure many of us do. It’s why we love pools, warm baths, hot showers, the ocean, etc. Water is refreshment to us in many ways and a core element of our physical being – inside and out.
But ugly ripples are not so beautiful or refreshing. Ugly ripples occur when our mind begins the day in a negative state and our thoughts turn sour for whatever reason- conflict, heartache, stress, etc. Then the ripple happens. The next event or moment occurs, and the negativity continues. Before we know it, our day is ugly and dark. Our mood is compromised which can effect our functioning and our relationships.
People talk about positive thinking all the time.
But it is irrelevant if we don’t know what to do or how to manage the negative thoughts first.
Keep in mind that mood and emotion are separate things. Our moods are based on a series of emotions that ripple throughout our day. Our emotions can change moment to moment. But our mood can last much longer. Consequently, if we can manage the emotions we allow in our day by also managing our thoughts, then we ultimately can manage our mood.
But why are there ugly ripples at all? Are they caused by a legitimate sudden series of bad circumstances? Maybe. Or was it just ONE negative situation (or perhaps just a perceived negative situation) that subsequently crippled our entire day? If the first is true, then it’s okay to grieve or be angered. Then we need to seek out the best coping methods that work for us (talking to a friend, deep breathing, exercise, journaling, etc.). If the latter is true, then we need ripple mindfulness! We need to take our thoughts captive.
Our thoughts effect our emotions and
our emotions effect our behavior.
It’s that simple! This is most especially important if our perception is outright false or inaccurate. To be angry for no reason is just silly. Even justified anger needs to be managed. How much more for the anger that is not even necessary. We must take every thought captive.
So how do we do that and how do we avoid the ugly ripple effect in our day? These steps below can take place at any time of the day for any situation we find ourselves in. Morning is likely best because although we can surely maintain healthy morning habits such as prayer, mediation, yoga, etc., eventually we will need to face the day, the texts, the newsfeed, the phone calls, etc. In those moments when negative emotions arise, here are 5 purposeful pointers to think on:
1. Stop. Take a step back. What is it that has entered your mind that is unsettling or unpleasant to you? What is the thought?
2. Dissect. What was said? What happened? Who was involved? Why? Etc.
3. Feel. What feeling was evoked? Label it. Bitterness? Anger? Jealousy? Fine. Own and acknowledge the emotion you have. But now do something about it.
4. Perception. Does the situation or circumstance warrant that emotion? Rate it. Is the piece of input that caused the reaction a real crises (someone is sick, dying, etc?) or a minor infraction (someone looked at us the wrong way)?
5. Regroup and refocus. We have the choice to let the moment start a negative ripple effect or not. We can stay in the funk or choose to see what could be positive about the situation. How could it be used for something good? What lesson can I learn about it to move me forward instead of crawling in my hole?
The more we can manage the thoughts that enter, which influence what we feel, the more we can live intentionally being able to control our emotions rather than our emotions controlling us; hence avoiding those ugly ripples.