Stop telling yourself things that aren't true

It turns out that some people habitually tell themselves things that are not true. They develop a patterned way of thinking about themselves - and the brain rewards them with a shot of dopamine for their lack of effort to wrestle with the truth.

I know a gal who is always telling me how stupid she is - and she is not stupid at all. I have a girlfriend who is always complaining about how fat she is - and of course, she is not fat at all. Moan and groan. Complain, complain.

Healthy people learn how to stop doing this nonsense and require their brains to get up off the porch and get to work. They do NOT blame themselves for everything that goes wrong in their life or rely on the distorted belief that they are ineffective and unable to do hard things. Healthy people learn how to suffer and live through hardships. They learn that life is hard without having to further confuse the lesson by pretending it should be easy.

People who struggle to cope often contribute to the problem by confusing their suffering with their worth. Do NOT confuse your suffering with your worth. Job is a really strange book in the bible; I am fascinated by all the patterns and myths it busts in the telling of the Job story. He is a good man who suffers for no clear reason. Job is a guy who can teach us that good things happen to good and bad people and bad things happen to good and bad people. Our circumstances, outcomes, and actions are no measure of our worth.

We are so used to taking the cheap hit of dopamine rather than examining our thoughts. Try to do more examining and less automatic assuming, OK?

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.

~ 2 Corinthians 10:6, The Message

Settling for quick fixes prolongs suffering

Let’s try something different - I am going to tell you what to do for a change! But these are just recommendations. Only try them if you want a healthier, happier life!!! People who study other people have taken note of some helpful and not-so-helpful patterns for how people deal with life. For the next few days, I’m going to compare and contrast them. I hope they help you make changes - if you need to!

The brain likes it if we distract ourselves from our suffering, rather than lean into our suffering. This makes it easier on the brain to go take a smoke and maybe work in a nap. This is NOT what healthy people do when they are uncomfortable.

Healthy people do NOT seek a distraction from suffering or quick and easy fixes to comfort their pain. Instead, they lean in and explore their discomfort. They know that their pain is real and true and appropriate. They do NOT seek instant gratification.

When Scott and Brittany were going through their miscarriages, they did not pretend that this was part of God’s plan for their life. They turned their back on platitudes. Instead, they got counseling, wrestled with their grief and sought support from those who had survived losses similar to theirs. They do not consider Norah, their beautiful daughter, a replacement child. She is their adorable baby girl but no child should bear the weight of replacing other siblings. This requires Brittany and Scott to suffer AND celebrate. Some days that is hard - because there is no pattern being established that provides a distraction or a quick fix. It’s called - healing. But it is long and hard and messy.

Habits can fool us

“Addicts must learn to handle cravings, attend 12-Step meetings regularly, and otherwise revamp their thinking, behavior, and lifestyle...Addiction is not an ‘acute’ (short-term) illness with a short-term solution. Like diabetes, asthma, and other chronic diseases, addiction can be controlled but never eliminated.”[1]

“I kept looking back at the other option and there was no other option.”

By the Book [2]

Maybe you think you are off the hook because you are not dependent on alcohol or drugs. Are you dependent on anyone or anything else that has its hooks in you? Habitual compulsions can have the same effect on us. They can trick us into thinking they are the solution even as they keep causing us lots of problems.

Spending more money than we have may be fun when we are buying a cute pair of shoes, but does it cause conflict in your home? Do you have debt-collectors knocking on your door? This is not a way to live!

Caring more about your sport’s team than your friends who root for other teams isn’t cool.

Distracting ourselves with binge watching, binge eating, binge exercising, binge anything may numb us temporarily from our cares and worries, but all those anxieties are just sitting on the foot of our bed waiting for us to wake up.

Eventually, we need to figure out how to not only deal with our problems, but live well in spite of them. The solutions that work for Substance Abuse often hold the key to our own peace of mind!

  1. Harold C. Urshel, III MD, (Healing the Addicted Brain, Sourcebooks Inc., 2009), pp. 23-25.

  2. https://www.nacr.org/center-for-12-step-recovery/by-the-book-doing-the-twelve-steps/by-the-book-step-2 at 2:12.