What's the Connection Between Joy and "Thinking About Your Thinking"?

It seems like every 3-4 weeks I write about some bonehead move I've made. It's not like I'm trying to project some false humility.  All this stuff is actually happening. So if it can help people at a practical level experience more joy, why not share it?

And guess what, the root of this mess up is the same problem I wrote about in my Dec 10 blog.  Heck, I dedicated a whole chapter to this problem in my book!  

Here's the deal: On Saturday, Michelle woke up fed up with me. Like really fed up. I had been nose-to-the-grindstone and non-stop for 2-3 weeks straight at work with very little time for her, my 21 year old daughter who was visiting for a week, or doing anything much to help around the house.

It's not the first time we've had this conversation, but this time it really hit home how much it pained her and that this is a long-term pattern that pops up frequently that I am not having much success changing.

So I took Sunday to really think about my thinking.  Why do I keep getting caught in this trap? It hit me that I have this deeply rooted cause-and-effect chain of thinking that is not serving me -- or others -- well.  

It goes like this: 

A. I neglect Michelle (and other dimensions of my life) because I get too busy with work.

B. I am too busy at work because I am over-committing

C. I am over-committing because I don't want to let my clients and colleagues at theHalftime Institute down

D. I don't want to let my clients or colleagues down because I am concerned they will think I am not doing my share of "normal work" now that Mr. Big Shot has a book with a bunch of PR, TV, blogging, and speaking activity

E. I am concerned what they think because I fear their opinion and rejection.

F. I fear their opinion because I am prideful and am more concerned about what they think of me than what God thinks of me.

So, I had to check my heart honestly:

  • Are you living in integrity doing your work and responding to what God has put in front of you regarding book activity? "YES"
  • Are you short-changing your co-workers or clients? "NO."
  • Do you value peoples' opinions over obedience to God and the other important non-work aspects of your life?  "Sometimes"  

And it's those "Sometimes" that are killin' me --- that get me into this busyness pickle.   

So what's the learning and application for your joy? Walk through this 3-Step mental exercise with me:

1. Think about a problem/behavior/sin/issue that rears it's ugly head in your life in a consistent basis.

2. Ask yourself:  What's the thinking that's driving that?  Keep peeling back the layers by asking yourself "And what's driving that?"  Ask that same question 5 more times until you get to the thinking or paradigm that is rooted in a fear, a limiting belief, or untruth. Write this all out if it helps.

3. Don't try to discipline yourself to stop the thinking. Instead, REPLACE the thinking.  Find a truth in scripture that you can go to the moment you sense the wrong thinking bubbling up. Zap the lie with the Truth of God's Word.  

For me, my "Go To" verse from now on will be Proverbs 29:25 "Fear of man leads to a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe."

Being present enough to short-circuit your pattern of thoughts and actions is a crucial step in leaning into God to do the right thing --- and to experience joy.

"The law of God is in the righteous person's heart; their steps do not slip." Psalm 37:31 (para)

Jeff Spadafora