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What is Your First Thought When You Wake in the Morning?

butterfly on flower, Raleigh Psychotherapy, counseling, positiver thoughts, Katherine Broadway

“In truth, the minute we arrive we are born singing,

thought this is often mistaken for crying.”

---Mark Nepo

When a baby is born, the doctor, the nurse, and the mother all wait to hear the baby’s first cry. Silence, anticipation and fear are all experienced in that brief moment, waiting for the necessary sound that indicates new life. It is the sound of life. The traditional thinking is that the babies comes into the world crying. Yet, how would that experience change for those who wait for the sounds of life if they thought they were listening for the first song of life, or the first notes, and not the first cry?

It’s all a question of intention. How we see an event in our mind’s eye impacts how we will act, react, and interact with it. We have control over the intentions we set by choosing how we frame a moment and the language we use to name it. Put a glass on a dinner table and fill it halfway. If the person eating sees it as half-full, they’ll probably keep eating. If the host sees it and thinks its half-empty, that person will probably stop eating to fill it. Two names leading to two different actions.

Do you think like Harold?

For years, Harold’s first thought in the mornings was, “Oh no, another day to face.” He was depressed and overwhelmed by the demands of life. Every morning came with dread, fear and hopelessness. He lived because he had to and not because he wanted to. He began his day with the expectation of misery, and he found it everywhere he looked.

Right now, on some level many of us are filled with dread, fear and disillusionment. We cannot escape the terror of what the future brings. We wake with a cry of fear. At times like these, it is of vital importance that we listen to

ourselves. What are we thinking? We are certainly surrounded by thoughts of fear. If left unattended in the darkness of our mind, these dreadful thoughts will grow and intensify until they quietly take over and replace any thoughts of hope with hopelessness.

When I was a teenager, “What The World Needs Now Is Love” was a hit single.

It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of

What the world needs now is love, sweet love,

No, not just for some, but for everyone.”

It was true then and it is true now. The world needs love and positive thoughts. Not to mention, “What the world need now is love sweet love” is a good mantra, and a great phrase to repeat when the fear sets in.

Where Do We Begin?

The place to start is with ourselves. We need to make an effort to tame our thoughts, identify our feelings, and set our intentions. I received an example of this in a text from a friend in Washington State. It said:

“We are no longer under stay at home order.....We are having a stay-at-home vacation, trying new recipes, catching up on some little projects, resting more, trying new things, enjoying and living life in a more calm and peaceful way and being conscious and taking care of ourselves and making face masks :) ”

My friend began with himself and his family, and then turned to his world by spreading his positive way of looking at a necessary and difficult change in life style. He was intentional about what he thought. He decided how he would think about the situation in which he finds himself. Rather than allowing negative thinking to rule him, he is choosing a positive path.

The things you think as you begin your day will set the tone for the rest of your waking hours. Just as Harold woke believing his negative thoughts, your day will meet the expectations you set for it in those waking moments. The good news is Harold was able to overcome his depression. One of the first steps he took was to find a way to change his first thoughts in the morning. When he would have a negative thought, he would choose not believe it to be true. He decided that it was only a thought, and not the truth of his life. He was able to see and hold on to the positive things. He discovered that there was love in his life, and that he had love to give others. It was not easy but he has said it was worth all the hard work it took to make the change.

Stay Open to the Moment

Many of you who read my blog regularly one of my favorite fictional characters is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. In the mystery novels written by Louise Penny, he is the head of the provincial police force for Quebec, Canada.

Gamache sees it as his responsibility to teach his young officers about what it takes to see reality and to judge what is true. He has several basic beliefs he teaches them. He tells them often, “Do not believe everything you think”.

This not an invitation for self doubt but rather an invitation to remain open to the next clue, the next piece of information, the next moment. It is an important requirement when faced with what looks like conflicting evidence and muddied clues.

It’s also great advice for all of us as we live through these unexpected times. Don’t assume. Stay open to new ideas, new possibilities, new ways of seeing the current situation, and new names for what we’re experiencing. Be aware of the intention you set each day.

Like my friend who reframed his family’s stay-at-home order as a staycation, you can also change the way you see this experience. You can find some way to express love to another in this time of great need. Whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together, with our friends and neighbors, and with complete strangers and the rest of the world.

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