October 27 – The reins of passion. October 28 – The power of negative thoughts

October 27 – “If passion drives you, let reason be the reins.” (Benjamin Franklin)

I tend to be a fairly passionate person. Sometimes the fire of my passion can get me into trouble. I can let that fire burn white hot and lead me into bad decisions, blinded by the dangers because of the singularity of the heat. I know that my passion is, at the same time, one of my greatest strengths and one of my biggest flaws.

In this quote, Ben Franklin gives me some sound advice. I do need to let reason be the reins of my life. But, who is to tend the reins? If a team of horses have their reins laying limp, they are free to run, unencumbered.

In my life I am blessed with a wife who is the stalwart of reason. She often helps rein me in, or talk me off the ledge, depending on your preferred metaphor. She can sit me down and help me see where my passion has clouded my judgment. But, she isn’t with me 24 hours a day. I have my job, and a portion of my home life where she is just not there. What of those times?

I have had to learn in my life to hold my own reins. I have had to teach myself to be able to take a breath, and take a step back from a situation to see what is happening. It takes a lot of discipline to pull myself out of the passion of the moment, but I have been successful at doing it and keeping myself out of issues. Sometimes.

I am certainly not perfect at taking Franklin’s advice, but I know the power of it, and I know how essential it can be to my ongoing survival and success

This morning my reflection is on passion, and on how well I am holding the reins of reason in my life.

October 28. “Sometimes we all need to realize that negative thoughts have no power. We empower them.” (Kurt Goad)

Sometimes I will wake up from a deep sleep bathed in sweat. I will lay in bed, my heart rate elevated, my sheets soaking. I will take stock of what’s happening and realize that in my unconscious state my mind has raced to a place of some very negative thoughts. Usually those thoughts are about something at work, an assignment that is pending, or an issue that I haven’t yet solved. My mind will race to all the possibilities of doom from what’s happening, and I am nearly in a panic.

When this happens, I have a strategy. I will lay on my back and think of something peaceful. Usually I think of laying at camp with a breeze flapping at the canvass of our pop up camper. I might hear the sounds of waves in my head, or the gentle rustle of leaves interrupted by the chirp of crickets. I lay any think of this peaceful place, and the panic leaves, my heart rate slows, and my body temperature returns to normal.

With that strategy I am changing my thought patterns. In my excited state, my thoughts have taken power over me. They have changed my body chemistry and caused me distressed. When I change those thoughts, I calm myself and return to a more peaceful state.

The problems that were driving my sweaty panic are still there, I don’t solve them by dreaming of camping. But, I have taken back control of my emotions and thoughts. I have taken back control of the situation.

This quote summarizes my experience with my thoughts and the power they are granted. I know that when I leave them unchecked that they can take over and cause distress. Channeled in a positive direction, my thoughts can drive me to great heights. It’s up to me what power I choose to give to my thoughts.

Today my reflection is on negative thoughts. Where in my life are they creeping in? Where am I allowing myself to be hijacked into negativity because I haven’t given thought to my thoughts?

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