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Davis Journal

Taking control of what’s inside

May 12, 2023 12:52PM ● By Louise R. Shaw

Sometimes you just have to take control. There’s just nothing else you can do sometimes. But take control.

Not of the things outside – in the world, the nation, the state, your community or maybe even your home.

No. If you’re like me, most if not likely all of those things are outside your control.

What you have to take control of is inside.

Inside your mind, where what happens can sometimes be as damaging as whatever chaos is going on outside of it.

Sometimes you have to tell your mind to think differently.

To not think the worst is going to happen or the person doesn’t like you or your hair never looks right, especially today.

To not think that you messed up badly 20 years ago so you’re hopeless or that you’ll never get the things on your list done because it’s just too stinking long and nobody cares so why do you.

Don’t ask me how I know.

Sometimes, more than our circumstances, our minds are preventing the happiness we seek in life.

So the only thing to do is to take control of that chaotic mind.

Don’t think: I can’t believe I did that way back when. Think: I’m glad I learned from that to do things differently in the future. Or: I’m going to move on because that was way back then and I’m in now.

Don’t think: This person doesn’t like me. Think: This person probably has other things to think about besides me. Or: I like this person and will try to be there for this person and that’s all I can control. 

Don’t think: How could I gain a whole pound just by eating one extra cookie? Think: I’m so glad I didn’t eat two extra cookies. Or: That was the most enjoyable pound I’ve ever put on.

Don’t think: Things are so terrible in the world today. Think: I’m grateful I live in a country at peace that tries to help other countries. Or: I’m grateful I live in a time and place with so many opportunities and advantages.

It was in the middle of the pandemic that we all got a lesson in how to overcome the chaos that sometimes controls our thinking.

We were experiencing a world-wide “woe-is-me” moment and for good reason. Schools were closed, shelves were empty, trips were cancelled, family members were getting sick. Some were dying.

It was President Russell M. Nelson, prophet and leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who changed the direction of our thoughts when he gave us an unexpected challenge.

When it was announced that he would be giving a special address through social media I don’t think there were two people in the world who could have guessed what he would say.

We were all worrying and stressing and falling apart because the world as we’d known it seemed to be coming to an end and he changed the direction of our thoughts.

Be grateful, he said, if I can encapsulate my memory of his address into two words. 

And not only did he suggest we be grateful, but he challenged us to post on social media what we were grateful for each day for a week.

And the conversation – inside – changed.

We did still have food, and faith, and family. We could still learn or work or attend meetings via computer. We could still mostly get what we needed when we needed it. And meanwhile, there were people working on stopping the spread and providing treatments and vaccines and people figuring out how to manage it all.

So much to be grateful for.

Those of us who took his counsel found we were taking control of what was inside our minds. Going from woe-is-me to we-can-make-this-work.

And that is the message that calms the mind the very most: We can do this. 

Take control of what’s inside. Tell yourself you can do this.

Because then you will.

Louise R. Shaw is a writer and photographer whose work was featured at the Lamplight Gallery. She is an avid traveler and currently lives with her husband in St. George. λ