Welcome to Session 3 of OWN YOUR MIND BUSINESS. In this session, we’re going to dive into recognizing and wrangling THOUGHTS and THOUGHT PATTERNS.
Have you ever sprained your ankle? It’s a pretty common occurrence. But, have you ever sprained your ankle in your sleep? Not quite as common, I know, but I did it. I was sound asleep, and I remember seeing so vividly a snake come from behind my headboard and onto my pillow. I woke up a bit…and I realized, “Oh…it’s just a dream…I’m in my bed…oh wait…the snake is in my bed, on my pillow!” What happened next is a little blurry. I remember trying to get up off the floor, but I couldn’t walk. I started yelling, “Why can’t I walk? Why is my foot hurting?” My sweet husband wakes up and says, “What are you doing on the floor?” I proceed to tell him that I’m unable to walk, and I don’t know why…wait…it’s coming back to me…”There was a snake in…wait…I THOUGHT there was a snake in the bed. I must’ve had a dream.” Oh no. He is so sweet…helps me back in bed…doesn’t make fun of me. In the morning, he insists that I go to the doctor. What am I going to tell the doctor??? I have to explain that I don’t remember…it was awful.
Maybe you’ve never sprained your ankle in your sleep, but every one of us has experienced something similar. You’ve allowed some THOUGHT in your mind, some CONCEPT in your head, to work its way into your life and to affect your choices and decisions, your relationships. That THOUGHT, that CONCEPT became so real to you, that you became a spectator instead of an active participant, to keep you from living the full life God created you to live.
This I know to be true: Thoughts are POWERFUL, but not always ACCURATE.
THOUGHTS, when left unchecked, become BELIEFS. And WHAT WE BELIEVE DETERMINES HOW WE BEHAVE. Our THOUGHTS and BELIEFS drive everything we do—every choice we make and every action we take. To live the life we’re created to live, we’d better learn to recognize and wrangle those thoughts.
And our job as moms is to do OUR best to set our kids up for THEIR best. So, we’re going to embrace that responsibility and do the work to equip and empower our kids to recognize and wrangle their thoughts.
As we mentioned in sessions 1 and 2, this requires SELF-CONTROL: ownership of the space between thoughts and actions, between feelings and behaviors.
The development of SELF-CONTROL requires MINDFULNESS and SELF-AWARENESS.
MINDFULNESS: being fully aware of the present and fully aware of thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment or comparison.
SELF-AWARENESS: seeing yourself as you really are.
Working on self-control, mindfulness, and self-awareness sets us up to be able to recognize thoughts as just that…THOUGHTS: ideas and concepts in our minds must be weighed against the truth because they are so powerful. Unhealthy thought patterns negatively impact our lives, and—if we’re not careful—can lead to anxiety and depression. Many counselors and therapists use a method called COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT) to help people recognize unhealthy thought patterns that negatively impact their lives, their relationships, the choices they make, and the actions they take.
What if we took the concepts from CBT, learned some principles, and implemented some practices to arm our children with EMOTIONAL RESILIENCE—the ability to bounce back after disappointment, loss, hurt—to lower their risk for anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles? Can we totally prevent it? No.
But can we do OUR best to set them up for THEIR best? We certainly can. And we’ll call it COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL PARENTING: proactive strategies that help children understand their thoughts and feelings and how those thoughts and feelings affect their actions. We can equip and arm our kids with the self-awareness to recognize their thoughts and the self-control to wrangle their thoughts.
CATCH THAT THOUGHT!
- Catch it! See it! That’s a THOUGHT, an idea. Look at it with no judgment or comparison (mindfulness). It’s much more productive to simply observe thoughts AS THEY REALLY ARE, without judgment or comparison.
- For the youngest children, we model this and use language like, “I thought I saw a snake in my bed. But I didn’t. It seemed REAL, but I just imagined it.” Use words like “imagination” and “pretend” when talking about monsters, book characters, etc.
- As kids get older, with exposure and practice, they can begin to recognize thoughts as thoughts. Talk about how important it is to be sure our thoughts are real and true because they are so powerful. Give examples of inaccurate thoughts that lead to bad decisions and accurate thoughts that lead to good decisions.
SAY IT! WEIGH IT!
- Say the thought aloud to someone you trust. Ask yourself, “IS THIS REAL? IS THIS TRUE?” The key is to acknowledge that it’s there and it’s powerful. Then, we WEIGH it against what we know to be real and true.
- The goal isn’t POSITIVE THINKING. The goal is ACCURATE THINKING.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:6-8
PUT IT IN ITS PLACE!
- If the thought is FICTION, toss it out and replace it with FACT. If it’s POSSIBLE, make a plan and put it on the shelf.
- It takes practice to PAY ATTENTION to healthy, true thoughts, but I can train my brain to do that.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
THINGS TO CONSIDER as you equip kids to CATCH THAT THOUGHT:
- Pray for wisdom, discernment, and common sense.
- Follow their lead. Don’t put YOUR thoughts in THEIR minds.
- Work hard not to be hurt or offended by their thoughts. This is not about your parenting. This is about your child’s thoughts.
- Work on catching your own thoughts.
- Create a home that is SAFE, SIMPLE, AND SILLY. Play games. Go for walks. Watch shows together. Read books together. Schedule downtime. Schedule family time.
And I want you to PAY ATTENTION to and FIX YOUR FOCUS on these statements today:
- God created you on purpose, with purpose, for a purpose.
- You are exactly the mom your child needs.
- Motherhood is overwhelming. God called you to it, and He’ll equip you for it.
- He will fill in the gaps not IF, but WHEN you fall short.
- You got this, and God’s got you.
We will continue publishing lecture notes from our OWN YOUR MIND BUSINESS series on the blog, but for more Julie Richard stories and an expansion on the ideas above, check out the OWN YOUR MIND BUSINESS eCourse!