As a therapist, I speak to many people: men, women and children, about their THOUGHTS. As people, we constantly have thoughts circulating our minds all the time. When we have positive experiences, we re-live those moments in our mind. When difficulties arise in our lives, we re-tell the story to anyone else who cares to listen. Our minds have an unique desire to enrich our lives, protect our hearts and bodies, and keep us thriving within the world. However, when we have had experiences of TRAUMA, PAIN, HEARTACHE, HURT, SADNESS (the list can go on), our mind can become clouded by the residue these experiences can leave upon our minds and memories. Our minds, designed to protect us, can focus solely on protection and no longer upon enriching our lives. Our minds can start to WORRY!! Worrying brings anxiety; anxiety brings serious mental health difficulties.
In our 21st century, worrying is so much a part of our culture. We can worry about almost anything. Yup, think about it. From the time you got up this morning, think about all the things you may have worried about. Such as: Am I going to be late? Will I miss the train? Did I bring my lunch? What if he hit my car? Does he still love me? Will they find out I am inadequate? Does this outfit make me look fat? Did I pay the electricity bill? Will I have enough to pay the mortgage? Will he come home drunk, etc. Real or imagined, our worries can sometimes consume our minds. Anxiety is the mind’s way of protecting us from our worries. Thus, maybe we need to make sure we check the locks in our home for the 10th time to ensure we are protected from violence and maybe we decide that we just will not leave our home today, in fear that people will look at us and judge us for who we are. Two thoughts comes from the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) approach. In DBT, people are taught that there are always two thoughts, two alternatives, and two perspectives to every situation. For you, it may be the good angel and the devil angel sitting on your shoulder fighting over who has the best advice. It may be that critical thought, that comes into your mind, where you take the time to analyze the thought but also bring in new perspectives. Or, two thoughts comes from the principal that within any dual conflict there are two sides of the story and the truth which lies somewhere in between. I wholeheartedly believe that when our perceptions are clouded by a lens filled with past experiences, we start to see the world in a way that is not always productive for us. However, by changing the way we THINK and the PERCEPTIONS in our mind, we re-train our minds to remain open to possibilities that PAIN is not, and will not always be present in our life experiences.
For my moms, who worry about their children’s future, what if you spent your thoughts focused on all the potential your child(ren) have to grow and how you, as their parent, can enrich their experiences with new opportunities, love, and HOPE? For my youth, who spend tireless hours studying for that math test, you can do this whether you pass or supposedly fail that test. Life will always bring you opportunities despite the failures which you may encounter. For the child who believes their big brother hates them, consider that your brother’s pain may be greater than yours. Maybe telling a safe person can hopefully help your brother receive the help he needs. To the man, who is struggling to be a father, maybe your other thought is that your children LOVE you and they just want to see you as a leader to them. Being a leader means you are willing to accept that your mistakes will only guide you on the path you should take. For the wife, who feels her husband no longer loves her, consider he is struggling to love himself. We learn to love by loving others and showing others the meaning of true love. How else can you create dialectical thoughts in your mind?
The next time a worry comes to invade your thoughts, consider the alternative perspective and analyze both thoughts. Then, choose the thought that brings you to the place you want to be in your life.