Another train of thought began to rumble and her heart pounded. The night trips were the worst. It was harder to distract herself. No music, books, or television. Only thoughts demanding analysis, the past to be revisited, unforeseeable futures to be planned. Too late. She was already alone on the deserted platform.
As the train emerged from the fog, she sighed heavily and hesitated before bending down for her bags. The grinding sounds of the train’s wheels on the tracks is haunting, her baggage especially heavy tonight.
She didn’t really want to board the train. The ride would be painfully bumpy and lurch along tracks of regret, recrimination, and remorse. The ultimate destination is all too familiar, a place of oppressive darkness—the last stop. The fear that she might not make it back from this trip is like a cruel smile within her.
But, this time, something is different. A small shaft of light seems to whisper. “Don’t go,” it says, “Stay with me, in the light of my love for you. I have forgotten your past. I love you now, as you are, my lovely creation.”
She sets down the heavy bags and turns her back on the train. No, she’s not making that trip tonight. She knows the truth of who she is in God’s eyes and sees herself in that truth, redirecting her mind. The train quietly evaporates into mist.
If you have ever had to battle boarding an unhelpful train of thought, you can learn to resist those negative mind journeys. You can choose not to pick up all your baggage and go.
It’s difficult and, in the beginning, you may board the unhelpful train of thought, but disembark before the last stop. This is progress. Each trip will get shorter. Someday you will skip going to the station all together.
Derailing an Unhelpful Train of Thought
Recognizing them for what they are is a start. In the 1960s, Dr. Aaron Beck and David Burns identified “Cognitive Distortions,” or what are now commonly called unhelpful thinking styles. Once we recognize how we practice these styles, then we can actively restructure or redirect our thoughts to be more productive. We don’t have to board that unhelpful train of thought to its dark destination.
Next week, my Action Sheet will show the 10 most common unhelpful thinking styles, give an example of each, and how to challenge them.
Exploring the reasons we develop unhelpful thinking styles is complicated and as unique as our backgrounds and personalities. All of my self-care articles are for education and information purposes only. (Please read the Health Disclaimer section in my Term & Conditions.) They are not a substitute for professional counseling. If you ever feel overwhelmed, please seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.2 Timothy 1:7
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”John 8:`12