My “No Negativity” Challenge

Welcome  Last week I shared the one habit my husband would want me to change.  He said he would like me to work on my negativity and self criticism.  So today I’m going to share with you about my week-long “No Negativity” challenge.” For today’s recipe I have a very easy Fall Skillet Fruit Compote.  Thank you for joining me.  Note–I may receive small compensation from advertisers or affiliate links found on this blog.  For further information, please see my terms and disclosure page.

Food For Thought  It appears frequently in the literature I read.  The number one way to change your life is to change your mindset.  Easier said than done, certainly, but worth a try for the sake of my marriage and other relationships.  After reading a marriage-help book, I asked my husband the one habit he would want me to change, which turned out to be my self-criticism and negativity.  It was not the first time I had been told this.  So, I legitimately wanted to work on this.  I didn’t want to just tell my husband flat-out that I was working on my negativity and self-criticism.  My hope was that over time he would start to see a happier, more positive me, even in situations that normally cause me to get sad or depressed.  I gave myself a “No Negativity” challenge for a week.  I would try very hard to not say anything negative about myself, or otherwise, over the course of seven days.  In line with that, I would also work to control my negative thoughts, which are even more prevalent than my negative words.  I would document the progress of my challenge in one of my journals at least a couple times a day.  I’m going to share a little bit from that challenge and journal today.

personal journal
Appropriate cover of the journal I used for this challenge

I started last Monday, on my husband’s birthday.  What better gift could he ask for than a more positive wife, well, one we could afford right now, anyway?  I started by writing my goals for this challenge in my journal and felt completely uplifted at the idea of improving myself, and the fact my husband and I had the whole day to spend together.  Later in the evening I updated that I did well that day, not even complaining when I developed a headache, closing with the words “I really want to do this!”  The next day I found this quote by Maya Angelou and felt encouraged in my challenge: “The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.”  But that day had its own challenges…nothing big, just life.  But I often deal with mental comparisons and perceived judgements and this overwhelmed my thinking while running errands…ridiculous stuff, like the bleach-blond mom in the Mercedes SUV that looks perfect, her kids look perfect, and they probably live in a perfect house with a perfect yard and, yeah, I know, nothing is perfect!  I wanted to clear out all of this comparison and negativity before my husband and daughter came home, so I prayed about it!  When I checked in with my journal before dinner I wrote, “Oooooh, that was a close one!”  I even wrote about how I verbally stopped myself when I had been telling my husband about some family matters and was starting to complain.  I was about to launch into a string of negativity, but I recognized what I was doing and literally said out loud, “No, I am not going to do this.”  My husband looked pleasantly surprised and I felt proud of my progress.  But that was only day 2 of 7!

The next day I was able to encourage myself in my journal by talking about the baby steps I had taken the day before, including a conversation at bedtime that I wanted to take personally, but didn’t.  I was pleased that I had gone an entire two days without pouting or getting upset about anything, but asked in my journal, “Can I keep this up for four more days?”  Unfortunately, due to hormones or chemicals or nutrition or something, a huge wave of sadness swept over me in the afternoon, as it sometimes does.  I was determined to pull myself together before the family came home, so I listened to instrumental spiritual music and meditated my way through the blues.  The remainder of the day felt hard on the inside, but outside, I didn’t verbalize any complaints or negativity.  I felt like I was progressing.  The next day I continued with my journaling, praying, music, and meditations. By the end of the fourth day I felt that I had been more positive, upbeat, and peaceful for the previous days.  It was starting to not feel quite so hard.  Then day 5 happened!  My mind was full of self-doubt, paranoia, and sadness.  The best decision I can make in times like this, is ask for God’s help to face my challenges.  So I went to God in prayer asking for an overall improvement to my thought patterns and to turn my negative thought patterns back around.  Before bed I was able to write in my journal about the wonderful peace and calm God had brought to my mind that day and what a pleasant evening our family spent together.

Gods help
My “No Negativity” Challenge October 2017

 

Our family had a relaxing and fun Saturday together and a positive tone was set all day.  I was so pleased.  I ended the day thinking, I’ve got this.  Again, I felt I had made progress during this week of “no negativity.”  Not so fast!  I had a meltdown before church on Sunday!  It was something very simple, really.  I was showing my husband some pictures and he asked what they were about.  I’m sure my eyes got big as I looked at him, and before I could stop myself I said, “Didn’t you listen to a word I told you yesterday?  I told you what these pictures were for?  You never listen to me!”  Not just negative, but reprimanding my husband like a child is just ugly and wrong!  Luckily it was time to go to church and by the time I had sat through the sermon with my husband’s arm around me, I was over the morning’s outburst.  By the way, that was progress, too.  Usually when I’m annoyed with my husband, I won’t sit by him or let him put his arm on me, but somehow I felt like this physical closeness could help fix the earlier problem.  I did notice that it was not an easy day for my thought patterns, even though I didn’t have any more outbursts.  I did bring a concern I had to our dinner conversation, though.  I shared with my husband that in my attempt to not be negative or say anything that might be perceived as criticism or unhappiness, I was suppressing a lot of my feelings.  It was making me mentally tired and I was concerned that stuffing my emotions was going to become unhealthy, as well.  He didn’t really have any feedback for me, one way or another, but I felt better just voicing my concern and I was able to move on with my evening.

So do I have any conclusions from my “No Negativity” challenge?  I would definitely say I was less negative, especially verbally, because the challenge was constantly at the front of my mind and I liked writing positive feedback for myself in my journal.  I became even more aware of the negative thoughts I have in my mind on a daily basis.  I know that it will take longer than a week to improve this part of my life, but I’m willing to try.  I also have started a new book recommended for this area of my life, Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer.  I’m only in the first chapter, but I want to conclude with this quote from the introduction, “Our actions are a direct result of our thoughts.  If we have a negative mind, we will have a negative life.”  Wow!  I want to live a positive life for Jesus, so I better get to work on this!

Additional Reading (links verified 10/23/17 at 1:35 pm, CDT): 

Today’s Scriptures  I like this passage in Romans about the mind.  It reminds me that to seek a life of peace, I must have a mindset aligned with that of God and the Spirit of Christ.  Let us challenge ourselves to have a mind controlled by the Spirit!

Romans 8:5-9  “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God.  it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

Today’s Recipe  How can we not be positive with the scent of warm apples and cinnamon filling our kitchen?  Fall has officially (finally?) arrived here in the Midwest, so I have a recipe for Skillet Fruit Compote.  This recipe is easy, fragrant, and versatile.  We like to serve it on hot, crispy waffles, but you can also serve it on oatmeal, pork, turkey, or just as a side dish.  Yes, it really is so good you can eat it with just about anything!

Skillet Fruit Compote
The scent of warm apples and cinnamon filling your kitchen is nothing compared to the taste of this EASY compote!

 

Fall Skillet Fruit Compote

  • 2 or 3 large apples, sliced thin (I use Honey Crisp with peel left on, but it’s a matter of preference.)
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 TBS Baking Spice (This is a blend I get from Penzey’s Spice Company, but you could substitute an apple pie or pumpkin pie spice, or make a combination of cinnamon, anise, allspice, mace, cardamom, and nutmeg)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried blueberries or cherries
  • 1/4 cup walnuts or pecans

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add apples and saute’ for 4-5 minutes, until beginning to soften.  Add brown sugar and baking spice, stirring to coat apples.  Cook an additional 3-4 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add remaining fruits and nuts, mixing well.  Simmer about 5 more minutes.  Serve on hot waffles, French toast, or pancakes.  It makes a great oatmeal topping.  It also goes well on, or beside, cooked pork loin, ham, roast turkey or chicken.  I make this a lot in the fall and winter!

 

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