When I was pregnant with my daughter, I made plans to have a natural birth. I read most of a book on natural labor and browsed a few websites and birth stories online and called myself prepared. When labor started I put into practice all of the things I had learned and had a very peaceful, first four hours of labor. Then things started to get a little intense so I woke up my husband who started asking questions to figure out if it was time to go to the hospital. I distinctly remember the panic that started to spread over me as I realized that this was only the beginning and there was a chance that they might send me home for not being far enough along. So many thoughts raced through my mind as I burst into tears. My poor husband had no idea what to do.
We did end up going to the hospital. We weren’t immediately sent home but I was ordered to walk the halls for two hours to determine if we were actually in labor. I truly thought this was a cruel joke. I was in so much pain and the path before me looked like it was going to last forever. All of my natural birth plans went out the window. I ended up with an epidural, Pitocin, and threats of a c-section before my daughter finally eased herself into the world after 22 hours of labor. It could have been much worse. I’m thankful that this story was pretty good, but it wasn’t what I planned.
By the time I got pregnant with my son a couple years later I had decided that I again wanted to have a natural birth. And this time, I knew what to expect and I knew I needed to plan and prepare better. I read every birth book I could get my hands on. I read hundreds of natural birth stories. I practiced relaxation techniques. And nearly every day of my entire pregnancy I visualized a perfect, healthy, fully natural birth. I memorized scriptures to bring to mind and I even found a song that gave me peace and confidence for the experience. I was beyond ready.
When my water broke this time, I was fully confident in my knowledge and abilities of a natural birth. I knew what needed to happen. I listened to my body. And I kept my thoughts (between contractions) focused on all things peaceful and joyful. When things got really intense and I felt myself panicking this time, I closed my eyes and sang my song in my head. When my mind started to wander and think about the long road ahead of me or the pain that would inevitably come with the next contraction I quietly remembered the scriptures I had memorized and took slow, calm breaths. I had trained myself to focus on peace. I only allowed my mind to think good thoughts. My son flew into the world exactly five hours after my labor began. There were no drugs, no fears, no threats of c-sections, and nobody even asked me if I needed an epidural or pain medication.
What you think will affect your outcome.
What you believe shapes what you become.
Your attitude creates your results.
I fully believe that my second birth story was so drastically different than my first because of my mindset and my thoughts. I understood that I could change my outcome through knowledge, preparation, and positive, peaceful thinking.
Consider your Emotions
Emotions like fear aren’t bad. We shouldn’t force ourselves to bury our emotions. We have to learn to feel and embrace the emotions that bubble within us. Because only when we feel our emotions can we actually use that feeling to guide us on a productive path. My fears of having another epidural and possibly more dangerous birth led me to learn more and prepare better. Emotions are good as long as we don’t bury them or wallow in them. We must instead, feel them, understand them, and solve them in a productive way.
The first step to overcoming your emotions is to understand the thoughts that are leading you to feel that emotion. Are they rational or irrational thoughts? Are they helpful or unhelpful? Do you want to believe the things you believe that are leading you to think and feel the way you do? I have a fear of what people will think of my writing when I hit the publish button. There are mean people in the world who might make fun of me to my face or in the comments. My friends and acquaintances might learn something about me that makes them not like me as much. The feelings and concerns are real. But really, what’s the worst that could happen? I love writing. I love sharing my writing with the world and my dream is to inspire, motivate, and encourage people. Being fearful and allowing that fear to keep me from hitting the publish button is not helpful. And somewhat irrational. Who cares if a few people don’t like what I write? Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and someone else’s opinion of me isn’t really my problem or my concern. So I write. And I press publish. And I remember that some people do like reading what I have to say. I think about the people who have told me stories about how my writing has helped them or inspired them to make changes. I shift my thinking from my worries and insecurities to my confidence and hopes.
The way you think and what you believe about yourself and about the world, will affect everything from your outcomes to your attitudes to your actions. We must always remember that our thoughts are powerful.
Our mind is a battlefield. Do you want the negativity to win? Or would you rather experience the fullness that life has to offer by changing your negative thoughts to positive, productive thoughts?
Did you know that you can tell yourself to have a great day today – and then actually experience a great day, simply because you made the decision to do so?
Fix your Thoughts
The Bible says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) The Creator of our minds knows how they work. God understands that when you fix your thoughts on what is good, good things will follow.
What goes on in your mind will determine what comes out in your words and your actions. This is particularly true when it comes to our faith and our beliefs about ourselves.
We often think of meditation as some strange thing they do in other cultures and religions, but everyone meditates on different things all the time. To meditate means to think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time.
Meditation can be good and it’s actually a really important thing to include in our daily lives. As long as we are meditating, thinking, on the right things.
The Bible repeatedly talks about meditation. We are instructed to meditate and fix our thoughts on God, His Word, His promises, and the good things we find in His Kingdom.
Psalm 119:148 says “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.” What a great reminder that is! How often do your eyes stay open through the watches of night meditating on your problem and your worries? What if, when you found yourself tossing and turning, unable to sleep, you fixed your thoughts on all of God’s promises instead?
“May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) This is one of my favorite verses. I love to say this over and over again. Not necessarily to ask God for help in pleasing Him, but to continually remind myself that God is my Rock of stability and He will Redeem me from every single struggle I face.
Psalms also says “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” (Psalm 143:5) The same God who helped you last year is the same God helping you through your current situation. The God who raised people from the dead is just as strong today as He was in the Bible. Remember all of the things that God has already brought you through. Remember the strength He gave you before when you thought you couldn’t endure any more. He will meet you again. He will carry you today, just as He did yesterday, and just as He will tomorrow. God is able, always, this will never change.
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)
This is the secret to living an abundant life. God didn’t promise a perfect life. He never said it would be easy. We have been guaranteed that we will struggle, times will be hard, we will be pushed beyond our limits. But just outside of your limits is the saving arms of your Redeemer. So fix your gaze steady on Him, let your thoughts consider His goodness, be at peace in the memories of His love. He is for you. He is with you. Always. Meditate on that and good things will come.