Life can be difficult. We are surrounded with issues, events, opinions, politics and posts that continuously bring us stress and strain. As if this isn’t enough, we add to the frenzy by putting up self-designed roadblocks to block our own way! Why would we do that? Why would we make things harder for ourselves? Turns out that this is a common thing. The imperfect human mind can create all kinds of coping mechanisms that keep us from dealing with perceived trouble. While this sounds good, the problem is that our avoidance of perceived trouble often leads us directly into the path of real trouble. Essentially, we can at times become our own worst enemy. The bad news is we easily and often sabotage ourselves. The good news is, because we do this to ourselves we can also learn how to change that behavior.
Automatic Thoughts and Distortions
In a book entitled The Self-Esteem Workbook, by Glen R. Schiraldi, PhD, we found the self-damaging thought processes we often cling to are called “Automatic Thoughts and Distortions.” “Making Feelings Facts," “Rejecting the Positive” and “Catastrophizing” are examples of the several thoughts and distortions we can face each day without even realizing it. Why are these things so insidious? First, it is because they are thoughts. Our everactive minds produce thoughts at an unfathomable rate. We are in a constant state of determining which of these numerous thoughts are worthy of our attention. Automatic thoughts – those that occur without conscious effort - usually are most powerful.
Being continually influenced by automatic thoughts is one thing, but when you add distortion to those thoughts the frustration party begins. How can we expect to cope with the hard realities of life when our mind is automatically feeding us seriously distorted interpretations of the truth? What’s worse is these automated distortions come in all shapes and sizes!
Fortunately, answers are available if we look for them. To help us understand how “Rejecting the Positive” works, we look at the Apostle Peter in his dramatic experience with Jesus and walking on the water. The moment he took his eyes off of Jesus, off of the source of his stability, he began to sink. What Peter focused on determined what his outcome would be! There is much we can learn here, not only form Peter’s fears but also from the stability of Jesus as well. The bottom line is that most of us have choices regarding the automatic thoughts we struggle with. We end up being our own worst enemy.
Check out our May 31, 2021 podcast, “Am I My Own Worst Enemy?” for more. We address seven of these automatic thoughts and distortions one at a time with Bible in hand. As each of these distorted views of our lives has its own unique challenge, so each answer has its own unique suggestion. This conversation can be a real eye-opener. It can help us to see what is driving our reactions and responses and compare that answer with the facts of our Christian walk. Please join us on the pathway to more clearly understanding our personal thoughts.