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Monday, October 18, 2010

We Have No Idea What Percent of our Thinking is On-going Negative

Most people have no idea how negative their thinking is and why, therefore, they are coping and existing in gray, dreary days instead of enjoying their lives. Sometimes I have to include myself in this number, and I’m a board-certified cognitive behavioral therapist who should know better.

I haven't felt too chipper in the last day or two and first thing this morning I decided to check in on my "self talk,” and spy on my own thinking to see, really, what was my brain conjuring up for me  when I wasn't "paying attention" to my thinking. Was something going on that I didn’t know about that was  getting me down?

What I found out was not earthshaking negativity.. Little stuff.  But it wasn't all that good either. I wasn't congratulating myself on little things that looked good around the house. Taking joy in anything. I was seeing only what  looked neglected. “The laundry room is a mess. I haven’t sent that thank-you note.”

I've spent years trying to grow raspberries and I just turned off the sprinkler system in that section this morning because they never produced berries. “Ugh,” I said to myself. “What a  failure. What a waste of water for years.” Thoughts like that.

As I continued my early morning surveillance over them, my thoughts continued their negative downward march. Thoughts about how I haven't been successful in getting one of my books on Kindle due to technical difficulties. When I opened the fridge to get something out, the light was burned out. Thoughts about “what a pain, I need to put a new light in the fridge. How do you even unscrew the darn thing. And then where do you buy one? Drat, I haven't done my swim yet.”

I'm not thinking how lucky I am to be able to do my exercises because I've got two good arms and legs. Oh, no, nothing like that. Just never-ending mild complaints. How come I'm choosing the negative of everything? Because I wasn't realizing that's what I've been doing lately, probably for days.  I wasn't really checking in on my habitual thinking habits. I didn’t realize that I was mind driving in drudge gear.

So I decided, as I got ready to start my swimming exercise,  I would  look for things to take some joy in. Nothing big. Not too ambitious. I just needed to leave a little less room for those mildly discontented thoughts building cobwebs in my mind where all these nasty little gloom spiders have been building their nests the last few days.

“Could there be?” I asked myself,  “something I could take a few minutes to think good things about? “ I see my dogs asleep. “I'm lucky to have them. No, get away you thought that I need to get their shots. I'm going to insist on thinking how lucky I am that they are healthy. And my computer was working this morning, can't I take some joy in that? Would it kill me to be happy that my computer was working?”

“And I just drank a glass of water. Do I have to think that I have two more glasses to go before I finish my water intake for the morning. Would it kill me to be just a wee bit grateful to have some clean water to drink when millions of women have to walk miles to get some water. Come on, woman, where is your imagination? Why so stuck in the negative!  Move the dial to good news will you. We need some good stuff going on. So what if it's little stuff. That's better than a lot of little bad stuff going on.
A. B. Curtiss


Ginger said...

Well said...great essay!

I am so guilty of this; I must be the queen of the "Yes, but..." mentality!

I read and hear of women in societies like the one you mentioned where water is toted, not dispensed from a faucet, who just glow with joy.

Seems the more we have, the more we want. The more we have, the easier it is to take blessings for granted & to focus on "what's missing." Isn't that interesting?

On the radio in the car today I heard an American woman speaking who had just returned from several months spent in the Sudan. There, countless women are victims of horrific atrocities. Women are being used as weapons of war & are suffering enormously.

After I heard of their plight, I felt so trivial and silly for concerning myself with the relatively minute problems that I fret over with such intensity.

The American woman said that the Sudanese women are so full of joy, even in the face of so much suffering.

They are, evidently, attuned to the small pleasures of life that you speak about in your essay.

I live in an advanced, high-tech nation that is blessed with such incredible abundance, but find myself looking to those whose lives are far simpler for lessons in finding joy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing and reminding us that just like exercise, we have to continually work on cultivating good thinking. For me, it's still the depression talk that seems to be the default thinking, but I must use my will to brainswitch and focus on the good things. Please keep us posted on how you go on for the rest if the day after you have bravely made this decision to seek out and focus on the good. Best, Y.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to tell you this but you are wrong. Studies show that football players who have a lot of concussions missing brain cells get depressed. Also the chemicals in your brain can be off or it can be genetic. Please try and be open minded because you cannot make up a disease that millions of people have. This is disrespectful