In “Daily Restoration“, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf talks about making small corrections in our daily lives. These small corrections move us back to the covenant path. In the world today this is also known as self-care.
Self-care is the taking of time to work on oneself. There are multiple areas to work on. We have physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self-care. However, if we look at it as a whole it can be overwhelming. Where do we start?
President Gordon B. Hinckley once stated: “Mental control must be stronger than physical appetites or desires of the flesh. As thoughts are brought into complete harmony with revealed truth, actions will then become appropriate. Each of us, with discipline and effort, has the capacity to control our thoughts and our actions. This is part of the process of developing spiritual, physical, and emotional maturity.”
Self-care starts with our thoughts. How we think about ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually affects our actions.
The “Thought Cycle” shows how our thoughts lead to emotions, which in turn leads to behaviors and actions. When we have a negative thought, it can lead to a negative emotion, which then can lead to negative behavior, which leads to a negative action. That action then reinforces the negative thought and the cycle continues.
The converse is also true. A positive thought leads to a positive emotion which leads to positive behavior and positive actions. Those positive actions reinforce the positive thought and a positive cycle continues.
For this reason, the first step to self-care is to monitor and control our thoughts. We need to get to a point where when a negative thought enters, we expel it from our mind and replace it with a positive thought.
During my teenage years and into my 20s I had an addiction. This addiction led to a way of thinking that led to negative behaviors and actions. I went to therapy to help overcome the addiction. One of the first things we worked on was to change the way I was thinking with regard to the addiction. That change in thought and a true desire to change my life were the keys to breaking my addiction.
I have discussed previously being bullied in middle and high school. This too produced a lot of negative thoughts which also led to negative behaviors and actions. It wasn’t until I faced those thoughts and changed them that I was able to overcome the bitterness and anger I let build up inside me. Those emotions showed in my behavior and actions and were detrimental to the way I viewed myself.
What Do I Do Now?
The process of controlling my thoughts has led to a change in how I live my life. I have learned techniques that help me to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. A few of them I will discuss here.
Declarations are short statements that either describe who you are now, or who you want to become. The purpose behind these statements is to allow oneself to reinforce those positive attributes one desires. Some examples from my set are:
- I am courageous
- I have faith
- I have wisdom and understanding
- I seek wisdom in good books
- I endure to the end
The technique that has probably helped me most is the AM/PM Routine. Simply put, this is a routine that you do right after you get up in the morning and right before you go to bed. It consists of 3-5 activities you do at this time. These activities do not have to be the same, meaning that your AM Routine can be different than your PM Routine. For instance, here is my AM Routine:
- Read Scriptures
- Vision Board
My PM Routine:
- Read Book
- Vision Board
These routines allow me to prepare my mind for the day and for sleep at night. They also help me to keep my mind focused on the positive.
The last technique I want to discuss is journaling. As you can see, this is part of my PM Routine. There are several kinds of journaling and there are three that I have used frequently. They are “Day Recap”, “FADES”, and “Black” journaling.
Day recap journaling is just what it sounds like. It is the time taken to review the day and write about it. This is a personal history if you will. In this journal, I describe the feelings and happenings of the day. The ups and the downs. Significant events as well as things that touched me during the day.
FADES stands for frustration, anger, depression, embarrassment, and sadness. This journal is usually done Monday through Friday with each day containing one letter. For instance, on Monday I would write down “I am frustrated” and then anywhere between five and ten statements on what is frustrating me in my life. This journal is a way to express the feelings that can lead to negative thoughts and get them out of one’s head.
The last one is Black Journaling. This one is usually done throughout the day. What you do is carry around a journal that is usually black in color. Then during the day, anytime a negative thought enters your mind, you record it in the journal and then you also write down two to three positive statements to replace the negative one.
Journaling has been a great way to express on paper what is in my mind. It helps to remove the negative thoughts which allow me to dwell on positive things.
“Mental control must be stronger than physical appetites or desires of the flesh.” Elder Uchtdorf stated: “‘Rolling waters’ cannot long ‘remain impure’. To keep our thoughts and actions pure, we have to keep rolling!” As we look to caring for ourselves, our first act should be to look at our thoughts and control them. As we do, our emotions, behaviors, and actions will be in alignment with where we want to be. We will feel better about ourselves and live better lives.
3 responses to “Self-Care”
Routines really do work wonders. I believe that we gain or sense of control through a daily structure, no matter how small. And my AM/PM routines really get me prepped for the specific moments of my day. Anyway, thanks for this post!
Thanks, Stuart! Yes, I have greatly benefited from my AM/PM routines in getting ready for the day and winding down at night. Glad you liked the post.
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