Sunday, May 13, 2012

Putting "Faulty Thinking" To Bed

Faulty Thinking.  Stinkin' Thinkin'. There are many names for it but essentially it is any of the negative "tapes" we "play" in our head.
 I first heard of it at an AA meeting fifteen years ago. A long-time sober alcoholic described the kind of negative thoughts that led up to his falling off the wagon.  "I'm a loser." "I never get things right." and eventually"Well, every time I try I fail, so why try?"  The next thing he knew he had given up the commitment to sobriety and was back on the bar stool.

Stinking Thinking is not just a problem with addicts. All of us carry on internal conversations. What we tell ourselves becomes our lens for viewing the world. Our self-talk becomes reality as we believe what we say about ourselves, even if it we never speak it aloud.

As a mom, I have watched my own kids develop faulty thinking at a young age.  My pre-school daughter already has learned to lament the stereotypical "No one likes me, everybody hates me, I should go eat worms." When she is in that "faulty thinking" mode, it is as if there is no convincing her otherwise.

I have learned that to change faulty thinking,  we must intentionally tell ourselves positive messages. We must re-program ourselves. I came up with a little song for my daughter to the tune of "Are You Sleeping" that gives her simple, repeatable phrases about God's love for her.
Tonight, as she was in bed, trying to fall asleep, I heard her from outside the room singing this song.

To the Tune of Frere Jaques
Jesus Loves Me,
Jesus Loves Me.
I Love God,
I Love God,
Holy, Holy Spirit.
Holy, Holy Spirit.
Amen. Amen.

I am not a child psychologist. I am clearly not a hymn writer. I'm just a mom and a pastor. I had a problem so I came up with this little song.

You could change the words to fit your child's theology. Maybe "Holy Spirit" is too fancy for your three your old - so substitute "Always Always With Me" or some other sort of thing. If your kid is like mine, she will add new verses of her own. I heard her throwing in "Mommy Loves Me" after a while, for instance. Whatever anchors her to the Love of God - mommies and daddies are those anchors for children.

In other faith traditions, this little song might be considered a mantra, words that are repeated to bring about inner transformation. As a Christian, the Bible invites me to set my mind on things above, not on things of this earth. (Colossians 3:2)  Stinking thinking, therefore, is not for Christians. We are supposed to set our minds on the love of God, although human nature will want to tug on us to believe life is hopeless and miserable.

I wanted to share this because someone else may need help with calming an anxious child - May the peace that passes all understanding dwell richly in your child's heart!

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