There's a tool for that!
It's the Middle of the Night
I’m awake. I want to be asleep.
It’s that ungodly time of the night – somewhere between 1 and 3 am.
My mind is whirling - it’s rehashing something that happened earlier in the day. I go down the list of things that the other person should and shouldn’t have done or said. It’s a long list.
I try and stop thinking about it, but I can’t. So, I get up. I clean up my emails. I play solitaire. I read.
I don’t look at the clock because that will only upset me as I go back to bed, determined to get to sleep.
Eyes wide open
20 minutes later, fully awake, I realize: I have a Tool for this!
I stop tossing and turning. I take a breath and I remind myself that I notice that I am thinking the thought that so and so did this and said that …. yada yada yada….
Point of view is everything
In the briefest of moments, this simple perspective tool kicks in – suddenly, I am looking at this thought, seeing it as just a thought and realizing that it isn’t even necessarily true.
I remember that my thoughts are not facts.
I feel better already!
Perspective is my best friend!
The less tangled up in the thought I am, the easier it is for me to investigate it.
Is this thought True?Helpful?Inspiring?Need?Kind?
I grab the THINK Acronym.
Realizing that this thought might not be TRUE, and even if it is, I ask myself if it’s HELPFUL for me to think this way.
The answer, even in my discombobulated sleep deprived state, is easy:
In fact, thinking this thought is the opposite of helpful – it’s keeping me awake!
I move on.
Does this thought INSPIRE me to be the kind of person I want to be?
Again – a big No. Aside from not wanting to be awake at 4 am, ruminating, I can easily say that I don’t want to be critical and judgmental in this relationship.
It’s pretty clear at this point that this thought should definitely be up for replacement, but I’m getting into this now, so why not do the whole acronym?
Do I Need something?
Am I thinking these thoughts because I am hungry or angry, lonely, tired or scared? Nope.
Not Kind either
It takes less than a millisecond to assess the last question THINK poses: is the thought that is keeping me awake, KIND?
Loud No on that one too.
I’m feeling great – It’s really clear that this is an unhelpful thought and it needs to go.
Ok – goodbye thought! Hello Sleep!
Except, I'm still awake!
This is a sticky thought! This unhelpful, mostly untrue thought just won’t leave – it feels like it’s stuck to my brain the way dandelion fluff sticks to a fleece. The more I rub it away, the more it sticks.
Fill in the gaps!
Then I remember how the brain works – I can’t just evaporate a thought – something has to replace it. The brain does not tolerate gaps.
It’s really late now and I’m desperate to get some sleep before morning comes.
I try sticking a ‘coping statement’ in there to satisfy my brain – something like, ‘they’re doing the best they can’ or ‘this too shall pass’, but it’s not working. I don’t believe these replacement thoughts. I realize I have to replace my distressing thought with a thought that my tired but detail-oriented brain will believe. A Total Rewrite I play with a couple ideas until finally my brain says – yeah, OK, I can go with "the other person in this story has the right to make their own choices and I have the ability to decide how their choices affect me." I take a deep breath. The next thing I know, it’s morning. I have slept.