I’ve known in theory for a while that your negative thoughts torment you far more than your negative circumstances. Circumstances are just facts, until you start thinking about them. Then the feelings come from the thoughts and before you know it, you’re a mess of bad feelings. But it’s NOT the circumstances’ fault. It’s all in your head. It’s your thoughts which lead to feelings. Which means you have power over your feelings if you can get your thoughts under control.
I’ve started writing about my son’s abuse. As I’m writing about it, I am remembering everything from a year ago and all the feelings come flooding back.
But here’s what I’m realizing in a really real way as I sit here typing to you, alive and well with thank G-d, my son alive and well too. It wasn’t so much my son’s abuse, or all the chaos that ensued afterward (although it was the worst type of circumstance possible), that brought me to my knees with pain. It was all the negative thoughts about it. My inner critic beating me up. I should have stopped this. I couldn’t stop this. I’m powerless. I’m not good enough. I’m losing my sons. They’ll never forgive me. I’ve got to stop this. I can’t stop this.
If not for those thoughts there would be no despair or grief or guilt during those worst 6 weeks of my life when my son’s injuries overcame us and CPS poured salt on the wounds. There would just be compassion for my son and myself.
This type of realization makes me want to be fiercely thankful and on guard in my brain with the broom of gratitude at all times ready to sweep out the bad thoughts. Gratitude is the key to so much healing and abundance. Thank you Hashem, my son is alive. Thank you Hashem, my sons are home. Thank you Hashem, for all the miracles.
Here are some thoughts, which I think are probably very common, that will torment you. They’ve tormented me. Watch for them, listen for them, and make a plan for how to deal with them (see options below).
I can’t do this.
This is too much.
There are several approaches to dealing with negative thoughts.
- Believe the critic. This will bring immediate despair.
- Kill the critic. Say, down with you! You’re not allowed here! You’re dead. I’m throwing all these thoughts in the ocean. You’re not welcome. You’re dead, I tell you, dead! The only problem with that is that your critic has more lives than cats and then you’ve become a murderer multiple times, and that’s no fun and not very positive for anyone.
- Argue with it. No, I can do this. No, you can’t. Yes, I can. This is not hopeless, I have hope in Hashem. No, you don’t. Yes I do. This makes you a crazy person, fighting in circles with yourself. I get trapped in this one sometimes.
- Love the critic. This one notices the negative thought and says, “I see you. I see your pain, your fear, your anger, your hopelessness. I see you. I love you. I’m here for you. But I’m in charge here, and I’m not going to do what you want. I’m not going to lash out, or despair, or eat a pan of brownies. I love you too much for that.” This is self-love. This is a practice. This is not natural.
- Emuna. This one says, “Wow, I’m feeling completely negative. I’m having negative thoughts. Thank you Hashem for these thoughts. These thoughts remind me I need you. These thoughts are here to teach me something. Please show me what I need to learn here, what I need to change, what tshuva (repentance) I need to make. I can’t change these thoughts without you. You made me this way, Hashem. You gave me these circumstance and you made my brain. Help me believe all this is good.”
Maybe there are more ways to deal with negative thoughts. Please let me know your tactics!
I pray for the ability to notice my negative thoughts before they’re drowning me, and the ability to apply #4 and #5. Good luck to you on doing the same!