Thinking vs. Thinking

VINCE

I just can’t find the time to accurately describe our schedule. It does change daily.

Today I worked for seven hours doing laundry for all three barracks (182 men). Then, before I even had a chance to sit, we went out for drill and ceremony, where we marched for two hours.

Now I have to do my treatment homework, so that’s it until later.

Later. I forgot to mention that the CD treatment here is called Positive Changes. It was developed for the Minnesota Department of Corrections by Hazelden. Hazelden Center for Youth and Family worked pretty well for me back in ’01, so I’m hoping this cognitive thinking approach works for me because I just don’t think the 12 step program is for me anymore. Not to say I won’t go to meetings, when I get out, I just can’t get past the God thing, and I don’t like the idea of pawning my problems off on something that isn’t real.

Way off track there. It’s almost lights out time. Tomorrow is my down day. Good night.

[ANNE: I am a big fan of cognitive therapy, and it’s not the same thing as positive thinking, so I wonder about this treatment program called Positive Changes.

Don’t get me wrong, positive thinking feels a lot better than negative. If you are able to easily choose positive over negative thinking, why wouldn’t you?

But in my 55 years of living I’ve only met two types of people who espouse positive thinking: 1) people who have never faced any serious life challenges, who tell the rest of us, “Just think positive!” and 2) people who are living in a fantasy world, whose lives would be considered by most people to be a mess but who exclaim, “Isn’t everything great!” Actually, the name for this second one is denial—it’s a defense mechanism that protects us from harsh reality until we’re strong enough to deal with it.

I went to Alanon meetings and worked that program for years. I got a lot out of it. I wish Vince could switch the word “god” to “the group” or some other support outside himself that is a support to his sobriety.

Back to the question of thinking, positive or otherwise. In Alanon there are a lot of slogans like One Day at a Time and Live and Let Live. There was one that was simply the word Think. For years I had no idea what that one meant. Think!? That’s all I did! I worried, obsessed, and mentally gnawed on all my family’s problems.

Then one day, maybe soon after I lost my belief in God, I realized it just meant what it said—Think, you idiot! Use the mind that God—or evolution—gave you. Thinking is different from obsessing or worrying. I found it helpful to reason things out with another person who was outside of the situation. It may sound simple, but in alcoholic families we are dealing with people who are not rational but manipulative, indirect, and sneaky. Alcoholics are often brilliant and charismatic, but they’re also liars. People affected by them tend to be martyrs.

And you wonder why I want to move to another country?]

One thought on “Thinking vs. Thinking

  1. Connie Kasella

    Interesting! I believe there is one more category of positive thinking. Those who are innately positive. Me for example, after 20 years of marriage, a terrible divorce from a narcissistic monster, two bouts with cancer, major surgeries, more chemo and radiation than one can bear. I choose to live by seeing the good in each day. Not by practice but by mature. Don’t get me wrong, it sucks and I wonder often why me. Buy my mind will go there only for a short while and then right back to positive. Right now I lay in bed with a fresh 9″ incision in my belly from my most recent cancer surgery. Yet I can’t wait to get back on my feet and run like the wind. Perhaps the brain can be trained in this direction. Just another perspective. Love you guys!!!

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