Friday, August 25, 2006

Stinkin' Thinkin'

One of the toughest part of my days--is controlling how I think! As a mom--I tend to personalize every bad thing that happens. For instance, moments ago, I struggled with a distorted thought, when my prodigal left for work, late.....only to announce that he didn't have any gas in his car OR money in his wallet. He didn't know where he left his cash (perhaps at his apt.); but could he borrow gas money and he will pay it back later?

My shoulders are tense from hugging my earlobes as I struggled to get him out the door. The tension fills my back as I know there is no way in heck...he can get to the gas station, fill up his car, and get to his new job by 11:00 a.m. These are my thoughts:

"He is never going to keep this job, he'll be fired before he gets his first paycheck! Why didn't you teach him better when he was a little boy about the importance of time management? "

"He really didn't misplace his cash--he spent it! You failed him in teaching him the importance of budgeting!"

"How will he ever move forward if he keeps falling back into his irresponsible ways? By giving him gas money--you are enabling him to continue in this pattern? But what was I to do? He needs to get to work!"

Can you feel the anxiety? Can you hear the stinkin' thinkin'?

David Burns, MD, psychotherapist and an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, has published a very interesting "thought" tool: Cognitive Disorders. Very specifically, my distorted thinking this morning falls under several of his cognitive disorders labels:

1) All or nothing thinking: Seeing things in black-and-white-thinking, right or wrong, good or bad--no shades of gray. If your perfermance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure. Hmmmm!

2) Catastrophizing: Viewing everything as a catastrophe--fearing the worst. (ahem!)

3) Fortune Telling: You anticipate that things will turn out badly, convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact. (Well?)

4) Overgeneralization: Leaping to overgeneralized conclusions. (He will lose his job!)

5) Emotional Reasoning: You feel it...therefore, it must be true. (Whenever I feel anxious--something bad happens)

6) Discounting the positive. Self-explanatory.....(O.k., so it is a huge positive that my son is going to work....but!!!!)

7) Mislabeling: You tend to paint a picture of reality that you fear, rather that what is actually happening. (He's going to get fired for this irresponsibility.......rather than, he'll be late for work just this once.)

8) Personalization: It's NOT always about me! ("I am a bad mother because my son is irresponsible.")

Phew! Eight distorted cognitions in less than a 4 minute interlude. Amazing! The good news is: Burns identifies 12 cognitive disorders---at least I didn't think all of them! :)

My point is this--stinkin' thinkin' does no one....any good. It distorts the reality of most any situation. Certainly, distortions are not what I want to model to my son--I want him to see reality for what it is. Until he does, he will not make the necessary changes necessary to become well and whole. Distortions only enflame the firey fuel--they steal opportunities to distinguish the flames of destruction.

Reviewing these 12 distortions allows me to rephrase:

" I am thankful that my son has this job. He IS learning about time managment each day he gets up to go to work. "

" I acknowledge that my son has problems with money management. I will look for ways to teach him during a more relaxed time. I responded to this emergency in the best way I knew how. I will respect his right to make poor decisions and will encourage him by sharing, when asked, the better way. I will also respect his right by allowing him to do without when he has not budgeted properly. "

"I acknowledge that there are lessons learned when we fall on our face. Rather than protecting my son from his self-imposed collapse, I will prayerfully remain available to him. I commit to being here for him when he makes the decision to get back up! Until he makes that decision, I will continue to pray for him while modeling healthy behavior....and thinking!"

Ah--can you feel the anxiety leaving? My burden is lifted as I rethink the events of those 4 minutes! Whether he has 4 more minutes, 4 days, or 4 years remaining in his prodigal journey, I do not have to join him in his craziness! As mothers, as fathers, it is important that we remain balanced in the midst of a crazy-spiraling-out-of-control world! I am grateful that I can bring my stinkin' thinkin' to the One who restores our soul; the fragrance of our words improves with each prayer we offer.


Dawn said...

We absolutely live in the same world!! The person above me must not be a mom!

Cherrypie said...

Oh gosh. I think I have those 8. What were the other 4? I think I might have those too.

Did you really manage to think that positively? Without medication I mean

MugwumpMom said...

The battle is always in the mind. The thoughts that are designed to knock you down and get your fearful are the enemy's darts and we know how much of a liar he is.

You did the best you knew how. You responded to God's call to raise a son with the ability that God gave you. The rest is not up to you, and that's the hardest part because like any decent mom, you want it all to work out for your son.

I'm glad you got your thoughts to go in a more truthful direction.

Am going on vacation in the AM so won't be around to visit you for a week. Hope you have a good one.

Barbara said...

I so identify with that.

I think I had better come back when I have more time and make a note of those points...

Spookie the Warrior said...

This as very good - I am guilty of some of those too!!
I do try to be positive most of the time, but I think when it comes to our children we always think the worst cause we worry about them.

But you are not alone in your Stinkin Thinkin!! LOL!

T said...

two things:
1 - whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right... think on these things.

and 2 - Have you read the Boundaries book?

Heather Smith said...

Praying for you Diane! I'm glad you are continuing to take your son to God daily. It's the effectual FERVENT prayer of the righteous that availeth MUCH! God bless!

Cynthia said...

Whether he has 4 more minutes, 4 days, or 4 years remaining in his prodigal journey, I do not have to join him in his craziness!---------
Love this...We have the choice. We do not have to join in the craziness.

Amy L. Harden said...

WoW! Did this post speak to me!!! I saw my own mother in that list, along with my own behavior which has kept my children and I from reaching God's dream for us. I fight with type of mindset all the time and work hard at keeping positive...affirming instead of negative and pessimistic. I have several methods that keep within the positive realm...putting my guard down for one minute though...I easily slip back.

I also agree with MugwumpMom tht the evil one knows, understands and use this weakness against us with our children AND with ourselves....remaining vigilant on this front is a must also.