Friday, October 6, 2017

Examining your automatic thoughts: The barricade to rational thinking and wellness

I can still vividly recall my mother’s frustrated query, “If everybody else jumped off a bridge would you?” Sure, most likely, after all peer pressure was a bitch. As we pass through adolescence, reach adulthood, and continue through those early adulthood years our prefrontal cortex continues developing until it reaches maturity. This is generally in the upper part of the mid-twenties for us fellas and the lower part for the ladies. At this point bridge jumping should only occur after careful deliberation and consideration of all potential consequences. Yet, in an abstract way so-called rational adults jump off bridges everyday.

I try to function as a rational, logical being. In doing so I give attention to my thoughts and actions to ensure that they comport with that goal. In this process I confront presumptions or practices which are culturally ingrained but may no longer be rational or logical but nonetheless are still commonly practiced.

One such incident a few days ago piqued my interest in this topic again. It serves as a paradigm for the thinking process which is habitualized in harmful practices. A friend asked me to help him move a recently purchased refrigerator, which we did.

We placed it in the corner of a garage where it was to be stored until the kitchen renovation was completed. He wanted to tie the door shut. As my eyes rolled I asked, “Why!?” The response was the same irrational mantra I have heard for over 40 years - so a child can’t get trapped in it.

He was operating perfunctory rather than making a logical assertion based on the circumstances. What he did was commonplace. He acted based upon the past acts of others. The attention paid to securing the refrigerator door was not based upon a rational examination of the circumstances but rather the lemming approach of stepping in line with the rest of the group.

When the group’s behaviour is not consistent with the promotion of positive health and relationships then this can adversely affect your wellbeing and enjoyment of life.

I am not advising to confront and challenge the group. I still helped tie the refrigerator door shut. It did no harm to me and I knew it was an absurdity. But I was aware of this.

This week I attended an event where coffee [caffeine] and doughnuts were available. I didn’t protest but I certainly didn’t partake. I am acutely aware of the harm these substances can do to my body and cognitive processes.

The point is to be aware. Act with purposeful intent. Stop drifting through life allowing the winds of others to steer your course. If you can utter the phrase “at-fault accident” without the feeling of unease or laughter then you are not fully aware. If you don’t understand the silliness of tying a door shut on a modern refrigerator go clean yours out, crawl inside it, then try to imagine a way in which you could become trapped.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Make a suggestion for me to write about.

Parents who would like to achieve the best outcome for their children in a contested child custody case should visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. Attorneys may request a free consultation to learn how I can maximize their advocacy for their clients.

Connect with me for the latest Indiana child custody related policy considerations, findings, court rulings and discussions.

View Stuart Showalter's profile on LinkedIn

Subscribe to my child custody updates

* indicates required
©2008, 2016 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.