craft verb \'kraft\ to create with care, skill and intention

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's All or Nothing, Baby!

Actually, it's not. And that's a big problem for me. I have this all-or-nothing thinking that is really faulty and it prevents me from being everything I could be. It permeates every area of my life. It goes like this:

"Since I don't have time to clean the whole house, I might as well not sweep the entry because it's not going to make that much of a difference anyway."

"I might as well get the large fries because the burger is blowing my diet anyway."

"I can't focus on giving right now because I don't have enough to give to make a difference anyway."

This thinking is faulty for many reasons. There is no balance in all-or-nothing thinking. Every choice is all-good or all-bad, and that is just incorrect. This thinking ignores the fact that small changes can add up to make a big difference. It's paralyzing because, since I can never be all-good no matter how hard I try, every effort seems pointless and unnecessary.

A more rational way of thinking is:

"I don't have time to clean the whole house, but I'll do what I can and then I won't have as much to do tomorrow."

"If I'm going to get the burger, I should only get the small fries. If I really want the large fries, maybe I could get chicken instead of a burger."

"I may not be able to give much, but I will give what I can because every little bit helps!"

I'm reminded of one of my favorite poems from my childhood. There is so much wisdom in being able to step back from overwhelming tasks and break them into manageable pieces. If this was my natural tendency, I would be trim and fit and my house would be spotlessly clean. I would be a generous giver, a mindful saver, a more attentive wife and mom, and a more thoughtful friend. Unfortunately for me, this is not my natural thinking. So what's a girl to do?

Well, I've never been able to wish a ball of yarn into a pair of socks and I'm not likely to be able to wish myself out of my all-or-nothing thinking either. But if I committ to being disciplined enough to follow a pattern and I'm willing to put in a little work, I can transform yarn into something that is useful and wonderful. I believe I can apply the same principles to myself and craft some better, more effective ways of thinking. It's just about being intentional. I tell my kids all the time to think before they speak or act, and it's about time I take my own advice. It's time for me to be more deliberate about my choices, to really think about the consequences of my actions, and to give up behaviors that simply aren't working for me.

Life doesn't have to be a string of reactions to the world around us. By being intentional about my actions, I can craft a better me, a better life, a better world.

Do you struggle with ineffective ways of thinking or bad habits? Have you found ways to overcome them?

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" Matthew 19:26 NIV

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