Thinking is an important mental process. It helps us to define and organise experiences, plan, learn, reflect and create. But sometimes our thinking may for a variety of reasons become unhelpful and this has a negative impact on our well being.
Some negative types of thinking may include:
When our thinking dwells in the past to a level that it influences our ability to function in the present;
When our thinking is constructed of language that is absolute in character and leaves little room for imagining a different future;
When our thinking prevents us from recognising our own strengths or the strengths of others.
Obtaining beneficial assistance is important and may take different forms from professional intervention to simple personal mindfulness activities. Ironically the hindrance to seeking assistance may very well be our thinking. But today with the breakthroughs in neuroscience and disciplines such as positive psychology our understanding of ways to help and assist people are developing further and challenging some long held models.
Organisations such as Beyondblue,Lifeline and Kidshelpline offer understanding, information and strength based assistance via a variety of mediums. Their aim to help individuals access assistance and help identify ways to continue assisting themselves and/or their friends, is a powerful message. Just as we say “it takes a village to raise a child” it takes a caring community to help in challenging times .
It is a fascinating theory from neuroscience that we may have as many as 50 000 thoughts a day or even 10 000 internal conversations with ourselves but whilst these numbers may seem high what they do is highlight that regardless of the numbers involved our thoughts and thinking matter. It highlights the need to be mindful about our thinking.
Rumination originally referred to a cow chewing its cud, but it also refers to a thinking process whereby you go over and over a happening in your own mind or in dialogue with others. If this rumination continues for a set time and then moves into creative reflection it might lead to developing new ideas but what happens if you continually go over something from the past in a negative fashion. What happens when you continually think the same negative thoughts and do not provide yourself with scope to see an issue in a different light.
If a child continually thinks “I‘m not smart” or “I do not have friends” their behaviour may very well change to reinforce their thinking. They may not strive to work because “they are not smart” so they think working will not change the outcome. If a child thinks they do not have any friends and so keep to themselves, their actions will say to others that they do not wish to join in, that they are happy alone and so they are left alone.
But if a child says” I’m not smart” and they are helped to identify what they are feeling and why such as “I feel frustrated because I can’t do… yet”, they may begin a process of problem solving. Something that had seemed permanent now becomes more flexible. As they identify what it is they would like to be able to do and ways to achieve it, they are helped to see that what they thought was insurmountable is achievable.
Children especially need to learn and be coached in developing ways to think that allows them to know they can help themselves by talking to people they trust, and to persevere in seeking help until they get the assistance they need.