“I am who I am. I say what I think. You have to accept me for who I am. With me, what you see is what you get. I’m not afraid to call a spade a spade.” When you hear somebody present themselves in this manner, do you admire them for being forthright? Do you think you could persuade them on any subject on which they have formed an opinion? Do you think they might be open to change their opinion? If you point out their short comings or the faultiness in their thinking, will they have the cognitive flexibility to consider your perspective?
What would it take for you to change your mind? We devote much of our counseling effort helping clients and patients learn to develop more functional thought responses to stress triggers. Thoughts tend to be more functional if they help direct our behavior or communication toward desirable goals. People can change their minds if they practice using some tools and experience a benefit.
What if you could stop yourself when you feel stress, name the stress trigger, spell out how you feel and what you think about it? Then, ask yourself the question, “Does my thinking help me reach my goal in this situation?” A “yes” answer suggests your thoughts function to help you reach your goal. A “no” answer indicates you thinking may not be functional.
When your spouse arrives late again for a long-anticipated date, when your kid forgets to take out the trash again, you could hang on to the same way of thinking and head down the path you don’t really want to take. On the other hand, what thoughts could help you develop and maintain a loving and kind relationship and more likely lead to a desirable outcome?
David Barnhart, EdD
Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor