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new beginnings, new way of looking at relationships

Today I'm feeling fall-ish - I really want a pumpkin spice latte and a plaid shirt! The real feel here is only 106 degrees and last night it wasn't stifling outside so I almost felt the need for a jacket! Oh, fall, my favorite season. I can't wait for you to get here! Are any of you starting school this week? Sending a child off to school this week or sometime soon? Although it doesn't quite feel like fall here, school is starting and fresh starts are all around. It's always nice to start new, whether it's a new school year, new house, or even new school supplies.

Many people want to make it the "best year yet" of course. I would guess we all do! Many times during stressful situations and dealing with those around us, I hear many people wondering how to handle stress and dealing with difficult people. One thing I learned in seminary counseling classes, which I found great myself was asking a few questions dealing with whatever stressful situations occur.

It might be helpful to see an example of a situation, so it might be something like a good friend who usually is chatty passes right by and doesn't say hi. An automatic thought might be that she is mad and doesn't want to talk. Needless to say, the mind takes off from there and can go a million directions and all of them might be wrong! The next thing you know, you have imagined she is mad at you and you are no longer friends and you need to go home and throw away all the pictures you have of yourselves together! You laugh, but you know it's true! The real reason she didn't say hi will not be known unless we hear it from her own mouth. Instead of wondering what is wrong and imagining different scenarios, here are some helpful questions to ask yourself. This works for anyone of any age.

I think it's helpful to actually write out the person and/or situation that is being dealt with. After writing it out, asking these questions about it will help clarify the issue and work through it.

1) Is this thought entirely true? Gotta be honest with yourself here. It's important to evaluate honestly in order to be able to resolve the issue and work through it. We must always deal with truth. In this example scenario, the thought may have been you are no longer friends, but is that really true? Well, when you think about it, you don't know that for a fact.

2) What evidence do I have to support this thought? Think about any reasons you may have to support your thoughts. In this scenario, is there any reasons so support the fact she is mad at you? Have you done anything to offend or hurt her? Many times, there is no evidence to support our automatic thoughts. Sometimes we simply imagine problems that don't exist. Maybe she didn't see you. Maybe she was in a hurry.

3) What evidence do I have to counter or argue this thought? If you have not had a chance to offend her and have no reason she would be mad, chances are, her ignoring you may actually have nothing to do with you at all. Whew...

4) Is this controllable or changeable? If it is changeable, what action steps do I take now? So, using this scenario, if there may be a reason she is angry with you, it may benefit you to ask her calmly if you have done something to upset her, especially if you suspect you know what may have caused her hurt. If there is nothing you can think of to cause her to be angry with you, you can choose to let it go and see if she just didn't see you and move on. If it is going to bother you and you cannot quit thinking about it, you may want to ask her about it to be sure you have done nothing to offend her and see if she is alright. Remember we don't want the focus to be on us - that's when our brains work overtime imagining dramatic scenarios, but it's not about us! When you come at it from the perspective of how she may feel instead of how we feel she feels about us, the focus is on her and it will disarm her when asked about the issue.

These questions have been so helpful for me, I hope they are for you as well. If you are a teenager or have a teenager, this is a great set of questions to help train the brain to objectively evaluate interpersonal relationships. They also help keep the focus off ourselves. It is common knowledge that the teenage brain in that particular stage of development is incredibly egocentric, so they must work extra hard at keeping the focus off themselves. We want to be careful not to get stuck in that egocentric mindset and remember nobody thinks about us as much as we think about us!

God bless your day, y'all!



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