The words Stinking Thinking has long been part of the language around alcohol and drug addiction counseling. According to Psychologist, Laura Smith, stinking thinking can affect just about anyone young or old. What follows is a description of some of the negative thinking that sometimes plagues people and can lead to stinking thinking.
Black and White or All or Nothing Thinking: This frame of thought otherwise known as self-torture features viewing everything as good or bad or black and white. An example might include, “My supervisor dislikes me, and I guess everyone dislikes me.” “While it is at times difficult to have an unfruitful relationship with your supervisor, they are just one person and you have many people in your life that care about you and like you.”
Being Blind to the Good Things: Everyone has difficulties in their lives; it is part of being alive. When we allow the negative experiences to overshadow the good things about life we take or seat at the “pity potty.” The old axiom that there, “are people much worse off than you, just count your blessings to know this truth.”
Catastrophizing: This train of thought takes the small issues that confront each one of us and blows them completely out of proportion. “Our son was expelled from school, now he will be trouble forever, probably never get a job and will end up in jail.” Yes. Our son made a mistake, just as we all do. He will do better and we will be there to support him in his efforts to do so.”
Wearing the “blue” glasses: This refers to focusing on one negative element of a situation. Sometimes a friend may make a choice that you do not like such as choosing to be friends with another person that you do not like. Rather than separating that one negative element out people often end their friend relationship because of that one element while ignoring the many positive elements of the relationship.
Mind Reading: In this way of thinking, people assume that other people’s behaviors are almost negative towards them though the reality seems to contradict these assumptions.
The “Should Problem”: This thinking is primarily focused on criticizing yourself and others. Blaming yourself with a litany of “should” keeps you inert and much less able to experience your life in the present moment.
Self-name Calling: Referring to yourself as “stupid” or a “loser” or any other self-demeaning names is likely to keep you from feeling competent enough to analyze your problems in a way that may lead to a solution. Be generous to yourself and others with forgiveness do not refer to yourself or others with words that hurt or demean.
Being “Superman or Superwoman”: This exercise involves making yourself responsible for everything that goes wrong in your life. “I got the flu because I am too lazy to take good care of myself, I guess I deserve it.” “I got the flu and although I got a flu shot, I got it anyway just as many other people that I know..
Everyone one of us has fallen prey to “stinking thinking” at times and no matter how vigilant you are it can still happen. Young people can be especially harsh on themselves and need adults to help them keep their issues in perspective. It really isn’t the end of the world. It is that voice inside each of us that is hyper critical, unreasonable, rude and mean. If you had to deal with this kind of person every day you would avoid this person or simply have nothing to do with them. I would suggest that you treat that voice inside you the same way.
Remember, all kids count.
Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net