Control Unhealthy Thinking
by Daryl Daughtry
At first glance, it would seem that healthy thinking and Attention Deficit Disorder (known as ADD) have nothing to do with one another. But many people with ADD develop unhealthy thinking patterns because they become frustrated by their challenges and frequent feelings of being overwhelmed. This negative outlook then makes it even harder for them to manage those challenges and move forward.
In the opposite direction, practicing healthy thinking allows people with ADD to focus on their strengths and on their accomplishments, which enhances their attitude and motivation. This, in turn, allows them to spend more time making progress, and less time feeling down and stuck.
Well, guess what? This is true for all of us, whether we have ADD or not. If we nurture unhealthy thinking, we develop unhealthy attitudes, we make unhealthy decisons, and behave in equally unhealthy ways. And a great deal of the time this unhealthy attitude turns into our very own, highly customized, super deluxe mud puddle that we choose to sit in while hope of ever getting out evaporates with each passing day. We have fallen into that puddle and we just can’t get up.
I am reminded of my daughters, when they were very small and ate meals from highchairs. Sometimes they would get upset over seemingly nothing and begin to cry uncontrollably making it impossible to feed them anything, much less even getting their attention. Eventually, I figured out that if I would surprise them with a silly little noise or surprise them with a stuffed animal in the hand that wasn’t holding the spoon, that they would stop crying and re-focus on the noise or the stuffed animal in my hand. They would absolutely forget about being upset and continue on with their meal. Amazing!
You may be snickering or smirking hearing this, but you’re really not any different. You get stuck in your unhealthy thinking habits and begin obsessing on them just like my girls did. People try to get your attention and they try to encourage you, but you’re so focused on your stinking thoughts that you just drift off into the “mud puddle zone”. Like my daughters, and now my grandchildren, you need to be nudged or sometimes even startled to begin to change your focus towards a healthier direction.
The following 10 tips provide practical suggestions that you can use to help jolt you into healthier thinking patterns:
1. TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF…..
It’s so much easier to have a healthier perspective when you are eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest. It’s just plain common sense.
2. REMIND YOURSELF WHAT YOU’RE THANKFUL FOR…..
Stress and challenges don’t seem quite as bad when you are reminded of the things that are right in your life. Taking a little time each day to stop and appreciate the good things in your life will make a huge difference in your attitude. In other words, to get rid of the darkness, we need to turn on the light. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – I Thessalonians 5:16-18
3. BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT MAKING BLIND ASSUMPTIONS…..
A fear of not being liked or not being accepted sometimes leads us to assume that we know what others are thinking, we think we’re mind readers, but our fears are usually not reality. If you have a fear that a friend or family member’s bad mood is due to something you did, or that your co-workers are secretly gossiping about you when you turn your back, speak up and ask them. Don’t waste time worrying that you did something wrong unless you have a good reason that there is something to worry about.
4. REFRAIN FROM USING ABSOLUTES OR EXTREMES…..
Have you ever told a someone “You’re ALWAYS late!” or complained to a friend “You NEVER call me!”? Thinking and speaking in terms like ‘always’ and ‘never’ makes the situation seem worse than it actually is, and it programs your brain into believing that certain people will never be able to meet up to your standards.
5. DETACH YOURSELF FROM UNHEALTHY THINKING…..
Your unhealthy thinking can’t hold any power over you unless you give them permission to do so. If you notice yourself having an unhealthy thought, acknowledge it, expose it, and please don’t buy into it. The Bible says to “take every thought captive”.
6. SQUASH THE “A.N.T.s”…..
In his book “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” Dr. Daniel Amen talks about “ANTs” – Automatic Negative Thoughts. These are the bad thoughts that are usually reactionary or knee-jerk, like “Those people are laughing, they must be talking about me,” or “The boss wants to see me? It must be bad!” When you notice thoughts like these, realize that they are nothing more than ANTs and squash them under your symbolic foot!
7. PRACTICE LOVING, TOUCHING, & SQUEEZING…..
You don’t have to be an expert to know the benefits of a good hug. Positive physical contact with friends, loved ones, and even pets, is an instant pick-me-up. One research study on this subject had a waitress touch some of her customers on the arm as she handed them their checks. She received much higher tips from these customers than from the ones she didn’t touch at all!
8. INCREASE YOUR SOCIAL ACTIVITY…..
By increasing social and fellowship activity, you decrease loneliness. Be intentional and surround yourself with healthy, happy people, and their positive demeanor will affect you in many positive ways!
9. VOLUNTEER TO HELP SOMEONE ELSE…..
Everyone feels good after helping others. So volunteer your time, your money, and your resources. The more positive actions you sow into people’s lives, the more you will reap in return.
10. USE PATTERN INTERRUPTIONS TO COMBAT OBSESSION…..
If you find yourself obsessing on something, a great way to stop it is to interrupt that pattern and force yourself to do something completely different. Obsession is like hyper-focus on something negative. It’s never productive, because it’s not rational or and it’s not solution-oriented, it’s just excessive worry. Try changing your physical environment by going for a walk or sitting outside. You could also call a friend on the phone, pick up a book, or turn on some great worship music.
There is an often-quoted verse in the Book of Proverbs that says, “As A Man Thinketh, So Is He”. In other words, you are who you think you are, you accomplish what you think you can accomplish. I like to say it like this, “What you believe is how you perceive”. Dr. Paul Carlin, the founder of Belief Therapy, simply puts it this way, “People do what they do because they believe what they believe”.
So unhealthy thinking is basically a direct result of unhealthy believing. If we believe something is true, whether it actually is or not is really not as important as the fact that we believe it to be true. Therefore, our unhealthy, repetitive thinking patterns eventually can deceive us into believing things are true that are literally lies. Change your thinking, my friends, and powerfully change your life and the lives of those around you. It’s your choice. It’s your decision. But it will definitely determine the quality of your life.
“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2