WE DIG THINKING RUTS

The following excerpt is from the self help
psychology book, Be Your Own Therapist.


Three natural thinking patterns predominate in this culture. While as individuals we can change these patterns, we tend to have a favorite pattern that becomes automatic in many circumstances. Each of these patterns has pluses and minuses. Awareness of your favorite pattern can lead to lessening of the minuses associated with it.


Let me call the first, the young thinking pattern. This pattern is characterized by a strong sense of right and wrong. The right/ wrong thinking of this pattern was usually taken on, without any modification, directly from parenting figures, society, or religious teachings. There have been few, if any, changes in this thinking caused by direct experience since the pattern was incorporated, typically in childhood. Whoever exhibits this pattern has a sense of rightness about their actions, their thinking, their responses and their lives. Good self-esteem is possible. A definite plus! The minuses, however, can be excruciating if a person does not fit the right/ wrong image that has been incorporated. For example, some of my clients with this pattern have difficulty feeling childhood anger at parents because they "should honor their parents." They wind up displacing such "wrong" feelings onto others or covering them with addictions. To move beyond the minuses of this thinking pattern, there are two possibilities: (1)change the pattern or (2)change what is defined as "right." For those more comfortable with the next two patterns, just the awareness of being in this right/ wrong rut is often enough to start moving out of the pattern. For those most comfortable with right/ wrong, however, the necessity for changing what is thought of as "right" is likely to be essential.


The ultimate in self responsibility: Wherever I am unhappy, there is where I need to change myself. Most of us blame others.

A second thinking pattern commonly encountered in this culture is one resulting from the belief that you and I are really the same. If I think along these lines, you too (if only you weren't so defensive) must think the way I do. I'll call this mature thinking, using the terminology (young, mature, old) as described in Messages from Michael (Yarbro 1983, 132-150). But I intend no judgment about the relative value of these three thinking patterns. Togetherness and joining become important values for mature thinkers. Relationships are often rich and filled with empathy and understanding. Yes, a strong plus! Another plus for such mature thinkers is their willingness to find out what is right and wrong for themselves instead of just acquiring another's ideas without testing. The minuses often associated with this thinking pattern are enmeshments in unsatisfactory relationships, also anger, bewilderment and lack of understanding when people are really different. For example, if a mature thinking person with lots of idealism meets someone steeped in cynicism, understanding of the cynic will probably prove to be elusive. As there were for stuck young thinkers, there are two possibilities for stuck mature thinkers. One possibility is that the mature thinker can come to believe that in some ways we are very different, which is part of the old thinking pattern. Another possibility is to judge others as underdeveloped because they don't think the way the mature thinker does. Such judgments create the exact opposite of what the mature thinker wants (togetherness, unity, and relationship).


The old thinking pattern is, "You do your thing and I'll do mine." There is no need for us to be the same. Differences are celebrated, provided they don't interfere with my path. This pattern's minuses of less togetherness and less certainty about many issues, while difficult, need not necessarily cause distress. This can be a thinking pattern of inner contentment and is recommended whenever possible.

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More Excerpts This Chapter
   LET ME HIT YOU WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER
   THE TYRANNY OF JUDGMENTS
   THAT IS THE WAY I AM
   YOU MAKE ME UNHAPPY
   YOU HURT MY FEELINGS- THEREFORE YOU SHOULD CHANGE
   STICKS AND STONES
   WE DIG THINKING RUTS
   SIZE AND CONTENTS OF THE UNCONSCIOUS
   NATURE VS. NURTURE VS. LIFEPLAN
   THE PERFECTION THAT YOU ARE NOW
   BE HAPPY GETTING WHAT YOU DON'T WANT
   YOU'LL SEE IT WHEN YOU BELIEVE IT
   YOU GET WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN
   HOW CLOSE CAN WE COME TO "HAPPILY EVER AFTER"?

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