Thinking my Way to Freedom
Friday, June 12, 2020
I have so much more control than I realize when it comes to managing life stressors. I always loved the Cognitive behavioral therapy self-help idea that changing your thoughts can change your feelings, but I realize actually applying this well is an ongoing process.
In trying to maintain a calm and pleasant relationship with my aging mother I read yet another book about dealing with challenging elderly parents and finally some of it clicked. I identified my biggest triggers. I learned I have to just let go completely of defending myself. At this stage in life she isn't going to change and it always escalates the situation. I must simply change my thoughts so I can change how I react and respond. I remind myself of how scared and vulnerable she feels having lost my dad and dealing with her own age related health issues. I need to let ago of unhelpful thoughts of "she never appreciates what I do." It should not matter if she complains about me to others. So many of my thoughts led to me feeling angry and burned out. Now I am learning to see her as feeling insecure, frightened and unhappy. I can be at peace with what I have done over the years to help out without her acknowledging it. Her words do not define my truth. I can simply reflect what she tells me, validate her feelings and change the subject. When I stop defending and do these things instead, it seems to de-escalate the situation.
My gratitude journal is another way I think my way to freedom. When I am feeling down or stressed, just changing my thoughts to all the good things in my life frees me from the negative feelings.
Part of thinking my way to freedom is nourishing my brain so it can think optimally. This is where eating a wide variety of whole foods comes in, especially vegetables. Exercise also helps keep me brain supporting my well being. I will continue to take care of my brain and focus on ways to think my way to freedom rather than becoming a prisoner to negative and distorted or at least unhelpful beliefs.
***This is another personal blogpost I may eventually take down.