Learning to Control my Feelings – part one

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” –Zig Ziglar

Yesterday was Administrative Professionals Day. I had an email waiting for me when I got in to work from my former boss, Betsy, who now works at another college, and I got pretty choked up. She has always been very thoughtful and made me feel appreciated. There were a few us in my department who came in to flowers from her on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes, like on Administrative Professionals Day and the first day of each new semester, she bought them, but she picked a lot of them from her own garden (including a pretty, bright yellow flower she grows that smells like chocolate. Seriously. Is there a more perfect flower for a girl?). Of all the ones she brought in my favorites were always the hydrangeas though. I still have the last one she brought in for me before she left last August.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” –Melody Beattie

Anyway, I never heard a peep from my current boss and, I’m ashamed to admit, that stung more than a little. Yes, it’s true. I’m not perfect. (Surprise!) Truthfully I struggle with wanting to be appreciated and recognized for my contributions like many other people, so I kept thinking (quite a few times) that it would have been nice if my boss had even just sent an email saying “Happy Administrative Professionals Day!” I guess Betsy spoiled me. I honestly didn’t expect flowers from my current boss though. Since her office is in a different building, mine is not the face she sees sitting outside her office every morning (still, I’m one of her admins). But again, just some acknowledgement of the day would have made me smile.

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” –John Milton

However, last night when a bunch of negative thoughts flooded in again, it hit me that thinking these things was making me feel down and negative. I don’t like that. There are plenty of things to feel negatively about in this world, but creating negativity is something I try hard not to do. Yet that’s exactly what I was doing. So I talked to God about it and He made me realize a few things. First, like a gardener tending her vegetable garden, I was fertilizing these feelings by entertaining and repeating the thoughts, and this was making the sad and negative feelings grow. Second, He reminded me that I have no right to place expectations like that on someone anyway, but even more so when they don’t know anything about it. How silly and self-centered is that? The woman isn’t a mind reader for pete’s sake. Plus I don’t know what else is going on in her life right now, so how inconsiderate is it of me to expect that she should remember the day? It was one of those “walk a mile in another’s moccasins” moments. Third, it’s not her responsibility to make me smile; and fourth, although I hadn’t actually said, “I’m offended by this” that’s how I was starting to feel. An offense is an “annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult” and that’s how I was viewing it – almost as an insult – so it would have taken no time at all for this to blossom into a full-blown offense. But then God reminded me of something else: being offended, or insulted, is a choice. I was choosing to let it bother me. I don’t think we can help it when thoughts just jump into our heads but we can certainly choose whether to entertain or reject them, and I was giving these thoughts importance by entertaining them. So I made the decision right then to reject any further negative thoughts about this. However I don’t think it’s enough to merely stop thinking about negative stuff – I need to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones – with truth.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8, NASB)

When I read this verse, the word “these” is emphasized in my mind. “…dwell on THESE things” as opposed to dwelling on negative thoughts that a) most likely aren’t even true, and b) are making me feel bad. God is telling us here that we have a choice as to what we think about. He’s not talking about living in denial, rather focusing, or dwelling, on good over evil.

Stated very simply:

“Where the mind goes, the man follows.” –Joyce Meyer

So instead of focusing on my hurt feelings, entertaining the (untrue) thoughts that my boss doesn’t care and I’m not appreciated, I chose to focus on the truth about her: she’s friendly, personable, kind, caring, doesn’t micromanage, she really listens and makes me feel like the most important person in the world at that moment when I’m talking to her about something, and she has expressed appreciation for things I’ve done many times in the past.  Why do I need a special day for her to let me know she appreciates me? Given the choice I’d rather have a boss who appreciates me all year. And while she doesn’t give me flowers like Betsy did, she verbalizes her appreciation. So today is a new day and I’m choosing to thank God for the fact that I not only have a job, but that I have a job I enjoy, working with wonderful people, and for a woman I genuinely like and respect. And you know what? I feel thankful, lighthearted, and joyful today. Thank you, Lord!

“Your joy is yours to have; choose it.” –Dean Shannon


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