Wednesday, December 26, 2012

To use Thought Replacement Therapy (TRT) in the new year.

I'm interested in the science behind thoughts. It's fascinating the way certain areas of our brains ignite when we're experiencing different thoughts, whether they're nourishing or depleting. Their impact begins in our brains and spills over to the chemistry of the rest of our bodies. One individual's brain map can look totally different to another person's. Just as there are various types of forests on earth, such as pine or eucalyptus, the plantations in people's heads look different, depending on how they've let their thoughts cultivate the dendrites and synapses in their brains. There are forests of pain, self-pity and resentment, like horror movie settings we'd prefer to stay out of. Then, there are other fragrant forests of peace and happiness like the Garden of Eden.

Some people have assumed that I'm a fairly happy type of person, but I'm aware of a wilderness area I prefer to keep hidden. It saps my strength and enthusiasm and becomes difficult to prune. Razing this forest to the ground is my aim for 2013. I'm aware that it's a pretty thick forest, as I've been nurturing these suckers for years, but I just need good tools to demolish each tree. The word of God, which I believe is a sharp, gleaming double-edged sword of purity, will be the main tool in my box. The others are an assortment of other healthy thoughts. The plan is that whenever any of those bad thoughts pop up their dense, weedy heads, instead of pondering them, I attack them by replacing them instantly with thoughts I prefer to choose.

I guess we all have our individual toxic thoughts in our forests. I'll mention just a few of mine.

There's this one. What I've tried to do isn't really working and we have no money. I'll attack these with thoughts and memories of good things which have happened and remind myself that we've managed to cover everything we need.

Then there's, Poor Blake. We can't take him on holidays as we used to do with Logan and Emma. He'll be narrow and impoverished in his outlook and it's all because of our stupid, selfish choices. This can be attacked with reminders that his life is full of other enriching opportunities and he's had the homeschooler's privelege of growing up with his brother and sister always around.

I've battled health related negative thoughts over the years, but without going into a lot of detail, I've learned to snuff them out by topping up with one of the major themes of my latest novel, "Along for the Ride."How's that for a tantaliser? 

There's the one that goes, I don't get enough opportunities to share my writing and I wish I was famous. My daughter said recently, "I didn't know you wanted to be famous, Mum. I'd hate to be famous. I explain, "I don't mean the Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga sort of fame. I'd love the prestige of other Christian authors who can walk around shopping centres without being swamped for autographs and enjoy normal lives with their families, yet they know full well that fans all around the world are eagerly awaiting their next books and their in-boxes are full of invitations to speak at interesting venues. They don't have the hassle of being told they have to move house and look at the mountain of unsold books in their garages, apparent monuments to their failure." That horrible, jealous tree drops nuts that spring hastily into other toxic saplings. "I'm sure I write as good as (insert some name) so why can't I get the breaks?... why don't more people want to read my books and blogs?... what's the point of even going on?"

Well, I'll attack all them with a spray bottle I've heard called, "The Elijah Complex." Do you remember how he sat beneath that box thorn tree on the heels of a stunning victory? He'd have welcomed the acclaim of a hero, but found it easier to focus on the queen's threat to annihilate him as soon as she possibly could. His brain was full of a forest of trees I can relate to. "Nobody else cares about the things I do... I'm all alone in my passion... They've killed all your prophets and now they're after me too." That was shown to be a gross exaggeration, as there were several godly prophets eager to stand up and be counted, but in Elijah's mind and heart, his "Poor Me" statements were true.

I can attack this style of thought by bringing those other truths directly to mind. These are the times I can re-read reviews and warm feedback letters and think of praise about how my stories have positively impacted people. I have had some excellent breaks. People all around Australia have heard of me and read my books. That'll get those poisonous trees falling.

I guess I want to be like Eleanor H Porter's character, Pollyanna. My thought replacement therapy is similar to what she called her Glad Game. It all started in the first book when she received a Christmas relief basket containing a set of crutches instead of the doll she'd hoped for. Her impoverished pastor father told her, "Be happy because you don't need the crutches." He gave her a gift of attitude and perspective that changed the course of her life. I've heard Pollyanna given a bad wrap-up by modern 'smart' people who miss the point entirely. They assume she's a sugary-sweet optimist living in denial, but they're mistaken. Pollyanna never denied the crutches. She simply chose not to focus on them. That made all the difference and no matter what detractors say about her, she's the one whose attitude shone through many best-selling books by a string of authors after Eleanor H Porter. (Sadly, several of them are now out of print.)

So Pollyanna is my literary example and I have a scientific one too. I want to be like Pavlov's dog. He came to a point where the sound of that bell made him drool as he anticipated the arrival of some succulent meat. Perhaps if we practice TRT, we'll find ourselves at a stage where just the whiff of a negative, upsetting thought will make our spirits leap as we anticipate the cheery, positive, happy-making counter-thoughts we've trained to follow immediately on their heels. That will make a fool of any malevolent thoughts we're given to ponder. It'll chase them away for good. That's my hope for this year.

Do you think it may be worth practicing HRT too?  

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