Nothing Personal

A humorous story tells about a speeding motorist who was caught by radar from a police helicopter. An officer pulled him over and began to issue a traffic ticket. “How did you know I was speeding?” the frustrated driver asked.

The police officer pointed somberly toward the sky. “You mean,” asked the motorist, “that even He is against me?”

It’s like the man who said, “It feels like the whole world is against me…but I know that’s not true. Some of the smaller countries are neutral.”

When we have a problem, it can often feel as if everything in our life is going wrong. We may tend to think that everybody is upset, that nobody cares or that everything is falling apart.

I like what psychiatrist Theodore Rubin says: “The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.” 

If having problems feels like a problem to you, it may not be the problems themselves, but the way you think about them that is the problem. Specifically, you may have destructive beliefs about problems, difficulties and hardships. To think more clearly and to get through tough times more effectively, try letting go of these destructive beliefs:

1. Let go of the idea that your problem is PERMANENT. Few troubles last forever. And those few that cannot be solved can usually be managed. Remain hopeful that you will find a way to solve or manage the situation and “all will be well.”

2. Let go of the idea that your problem is PERVASIVE. Don’t make your problem bigger than it is. Few problems affect every area of your life. When something is going wrong, it does not mean that everything is going wrong. There is still very much that is good and working well in your life and you don’t want to lose focus of that fact.

3. Finally, let go of the idea that your problem is PERSONAL. There is nothing wrong with you because you have a problem. All capable and successful people have plenty of troubles. They have learned to make friends with problems, for difficulties are a normal part of life. If you have problems, it only means one thing: you’re still living. And that can be pretty great in itself.

Remember, your problem is not permanent, it is not pervasive and it does not personally diminish who you are. Let go of these three destructive beliefs and you may be amazed at how much better you feel already. In fact, you are on your way to becoming an expert at handling problems.

And so, we pray: Father, so many times we do think that our problems are personal… that somebody (maybe everybody) is out to get us… even you. Help us through all these problems knowing that you are walking with us through every valley. Amen.

Grace and Peace

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