By John Thurman
I shot this image a little over a year ago at a Living Free Service at Sagebrush Community Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Pastor Rick Bosh had just finished a message and he invited all of those who were attending to some write down some places where they were stuck? It was a powerful time, there was silence in a room for around 800 people with only the occasion sniffle of sadness or joy or the sharp and loud slaps of a man hug.
Do you ever feel stuck? Do some of your old thinking styles trip your up? Reviving your mind is tough work, but it leads to great rewards.
As we look at these styles, let’s review where some of our struggles originate.
What we believe is partially determined by the programming we absorb from our early childhood to the present. Our parents, siblings, peers, teachers, faith group, significant others, books, TV, and so on, all contribute to our perceptions about the world and ourselves. As mentioned in the introduction, there are two basic mindsets people deal with the “fixed mindset” and the “growth mindset.”
If a person is in a fixed mindset and something bad or negative occurs, the following things happen. He or she tends to think:
· It is personal (it is all my fault)
· It is permanent (it cannot be changed)
· It is pervasive (it will affect everything)
In Genesis chapters 11-25, one of the best-known couples in the Bible, Abraham and Sarah, serve as reminders of what happens when we presume to know God’s plans, and the plans of others. This couple often strayed from God’s will. Early on they gave into fear, dishonesty, and manipulation as they dealt with others. At times, they wrongly presumed to know God’s mind and plans before He had revealed them and then foolishly attempted to assist Him.
The good news is, over time Abraham, and Sarah got the lesson. They learned that a fresh start is always possible. They also learned that the fulfillment of God’s promises does not depend upon our performance, but rather on His grace. Finally, they learned it is dangerous to try to read God’s mind and to move ahead without first seeking His direction.
This mind-reading trap assumes that you know what the other person is thinking or expecting, or that you expect another person to understand fully what you are thinking.
Mind reading often happens when we know or think we know the other persons well. After forty years of being married to my wife, she is learned she cannot always read my mind.
The way to avoid the trap of assuming you know what another person is thinking is to ask questions. Getting answers is the easiest way to see if what you are thinking matches what the other person is thinking. It takes courage, but it can work.
Here are a few questions to ask:
· Did I express myself?
· Did I ask for information and clarification?
· Am I sure the other person is not holding anything back in fear of my reaction?
Feel free to leave a comment.
(c) 2014 John Thurman
Revive Your Mind: It is Cheaper Than Therapy
by John Thurman
Your future is not defined by your past. Your thoughts can change, and consequently, so can your future. Stinking thinking corrupts your brain and triggers harmful neurochemicals and dangerous mental states such as anxiety, anger, and depression. One of the proven ways to revive your mind is to get a grip on your “stinking thinking” styles and make the necessary adjustments. Unless you are willing to do some constructive re-engineering, your thinking becomes automatic, impulsive, and often wrong by bending, deleting, distorting, and exaggerating the truth. Over the next few posts, I will show you the secrets to renewing your mind.
The first shift is to move into a “growth mindset.” Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, spent her life researching the origins of mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes. Her findings give us two options, a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. The Bible contains numerous other passages that deal with managing our thoughts. For starters, I’d suggest reading the New Testament book of James 1:1-8
A fixed mindset is one in which you believe you are born with a changeless set of talents, abilities, and intelligence—all of which are unchangeable. Some people with a fixed mindset may find it more difficult to experience life change and growth. As a result, a fixed-mindset person fails to develop his potential and is more likely to give up or become distracted and feel depressed when he fails to make the grade in his own eyes.
One of the ways to engage these thoughts is to give you some descriptions of how stinking thinking works. Knowing that, you will be able to push back the lies and replace them with the truth.
Stinking thinking traps undermine mental toughness and performance and lead to an inaccurate understanding of the situation. You can use some of these critical questions I’m going to talk about in these thinking traps to help you clarify a situation. In the following blogs, we’ll talk about developing resistance, resilience, and getting stronger.
In the next few days you will begin to revive your mind with the new truths that you are beginning to implement. Let me know how you are doing.
To learn more about the "Stinking Thinking Traps," read Chapter 4 of Get a Grip on Depression.
It may also be ordered through Amazon
(c) 2014 John Thurman
By John Thurman
Reggie had struggled with his severe, recurrent depression and his ten-year battle with alcohol abuse. He consistently complained about how lonely he was but minimized how much he was drinking by himself. He tried church support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, going to the gym with friends, but each program seemed to fail miserably. Alcohol kept him from overcoming the isolation. Reggie eventually dealt with his addiction and then he began to recover from the depression.
Isolation is the double-edged sword of depression as it is both a cause and outcome. Isolation complicates depression in some people.Individuals begin drinking, gambling online, using pornography, or beginning other addictions to treat their depression.
So how do you move out of isolation?
For people with significant depression, the mere thought of getting out of the house can seem daunting. Here is an action plan that you can begin using today.
1. Connect Intentionally
Get up and get dressed. Go outside; take a walk. Let the sun kiss your cheeks. As you walk, observe people, children, and pets.
Nod your head and say, “Hi,” on purpose. The point is not to start a conversation but to make a brief moment of connection. Stepping out of your house or apartment and intentionally speaking are two fundamental ways of changing your perception. You will see that you are not a zombie-like presence in the world. Try this action plan daily.
2. Connect Online
Reaching out via email or some limited posting can be helpful in re-establishing contact with others. Be careful to safeguard your personal information and keep your expectations real. Start small.
3. Join a class, join a small group, or go to church.
In your community there are numerous organizations that center around a common goal. Perhaps you enjoy photography, sports, games, exercise, biking, writing, reading, poetry, animals, or genealogyThe connection with others will help relieve the pain of isolation.
4. Plan to Meet with One or More Persons.
As you connect with others, take a risk and invite one person to meet you at a local coffee shop or restaurant. When you arrive, smile, make eye contact, shake hands, and ask the person questions about his or her life. As you learn about and connect with others person, your feelings of isolation will go away.
Isolation is not your friend, but you can get trapped into being alone. Instead, embrace your responsibility to take action and push through isolation. #getagripondepression
From: Get a Grip on Depression by John Thurman pp 108-109.
Last summer I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan for a some training as a Crisis Response Specialist. I stayed over a couple of extra day to experience Lake Michigan. My friends told me to check out Grand Haven Beach and I did. What a delight to see people enjoying a day at the beach. Walking out to the light house I noticed a group of local teens jumping off the pier. They were having an absolute blast. You can check out some of my shots on my flickr account.
One thing was for certain, they were having a blast.
As we continue to look at ways to beat the blues, to push back depression, to overcome the negative things in
One of the practical things you can do to push back depression is to bump up your positive experiences
Sasha had been volunteering as the women’s ministry director in her church for the past three years. She led the ministry through the ups and downs including power struggles and emotional drama. She spent hours in prayer and in personal study. The other night she told her husband, Leo, that she thought she was done.
For the next half hour she cried, complained, and released all the frustrations that had built up. Leo was wise that night. He said, “Do you need a hug?” The next morning Sasha asked Leo what she should do. Once again he wisely said, “Call a couple of your girlfriends and go have some fun.”
She did. She and two of her girlfriends spent some Kohl’s bucks and then went to Starbucks.
One of the classic effects of depression is stealing your sense of pleasure. Without some pleasurable experiences woven into your life, you can descend into the dull grayness of depression.
Being intentional about having pleasurable experiences is one way to overcome the low motivation that can be a part of depression.
Here is one proven plan for boosting your pleasure.
1. Record every activity you do for the next three to five days.
2. Answer the following question for each activity: Was it pleasurable? Yes or No?
3. For each pleasurable activity, rate it from 1 to 10 -- 1 being the least pleasurable and 10 being the most.
The Second Tip for Pushing Back Depression is:
Depression, by its nature, fogs up your sense of self. When you are struggling in the negative swill of depression, it can be easy to find other people who are doing better in nearly every area of life.
For just a moment, I am going to reach way back into the vault and link you to a clip that is so old, you can probably find it on the RFD Channel, no offense to my farming and ranching buddies. It is a clip from a segment of Hee Haw which is an interesting look into how we can get caught up in the game of comparison when we are depressed. Give a 26 second listen to Gloom, Despair, and Agony
To combat this darkness, you stop comparing yourself to others. There will always be someone with better looks, more money, and greater status than you, but you do not have to be sucked into the trap of comparison.
Instead, choose to catch yourself the next time you begin to compare yourself to others. When one of those comparative thoughts starts, stop it, and replace it with one or two positive things about yourself.
Be deliberate about noticing what is good. “And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8 NLT).
A new friend of mine, Holley Gerth has some comforting thoughts in her blog, When You’re Tempted to Compare.
Robin Williams’ memory, his acting, his stories and comedy sketches will live on through video clips and the internet. Hopefully, we will take some lessons from the loss of this extraordinary actor, comedian, and exceptional communicator.
Depression can be a quiet killer. It is a disorder that is widely experienced and yet few people seek treatment for it.
According to the CDC, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2010. The CDC report also states that there were 38,364 suicides in the U.S—an average of 105 each day.
In looking at gender issues, the same report stated that males are four times more likely than females to commit suicide, and represent 79% of all U.S., suicides.
While suicide prevention and intervention programs are a must, we can take better care of ourselves and others if we know how to push depression back.
The next several blogs will give you tools you can use to battle the blues, to push back depression. These concepts are found in my book Get a Grip on Depression. It is also available on Amazon/Kindle and can be ordered through your local bookstore.
Depression robs you by making you feel inadequate and worthless. As bad as robbery sounds, you and I always have choices in how we respond to what life throws at us.
Suggestion # 1 Stop saying bad things about yourself.
There is a great line from Kelly’s Heroes, a Clint Eastwood anti-warwar movie where Donald Sutherland’s character does an excellent job confronting the negative ways-check out this clip.
One of the things you can do for yourself is to focus on what you appreciate about your life, yourself, and your situation. While this is a simple concept, it may be a difficult task, particularly if you have been under the heaviness of depression. Part of getting better is to begin to stop speaking the nagging, negative thoughts that so easily slip into your mind when you are depressed.
In the place of negative thoughts and words, try noticing what you do appreciate about yourself. No matter how bad you feel, there are good things about you.
Try this assignment. Make a list of at least three things that you appreciate. Here are a few suggestions to consider adding to your list:
A good listener
A loyal friend
A fresh, warm chocolate chip cookie
The purpose of this exercise is to help you begin to push back the dark, consuming, negative thoughts and focus on the good around you.
I love the line from Kathryn Stockett’s book and movie The Help, “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” These are keeper phrases because you are all of those and more. Here is the clip.
Monday, I will have the next tip for pushing back depression.
John is a licensed counselor with over 35,000 in the people helping business. He is also a speaker, author, and crisis response specialist.
Laughter, Joy, tenderness, and passion are things that come to mind when I think of Robin Williams. Another attribute I admired was his ability to be vulnerable. For years he talked about his struggle with addictions, depression, and open heart surgery.
He had struggled a great part of his adult life with a brain disorder which included severe depression, which in many cases co-exists with addictions. Even with treatment, support from friends and family and remarkably successful career, mental illness can still end up killing a person.
As a Christ follower, I have been somewhat discouraged by some of the “faith-based” blogs I have seen about suicide. As a seasoned professional, I have come to see that individuals who come to the edge of the black hole of suicide are not in their right mind. Isolation, depression, and hopelessness steal the individual of their ability to look forward to the possibilities of hope and relief. I believe in a God that is at His core Compassionate, one who weeps with those who weep, one who feels sadness, and one who mourns with those who mourn.
We need to respond to hurting friends, neighbors, and relative with compassion.
Here are some facts about suicide and depression. I trust that you will find this helpful.
The following is from my book Get a Grip on Depression:
Over 90% of people who commit suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder. Many times, people who commit suicide have a substance abuse problem. Often they have that problem in combination with other mental disorders.
Adverse or traumatic life events in combination with other risk factors, such as clinical depression, may lead to death. But suicide and suicidal behaviors are never normal responses to stress.
Other risk factors for suicide include:
• One or more prior suicide attempts
• Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse
• Family history of suicide
• Family violence
• Physical or sexual abuse
• Keeping firearms in the home
• Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain
• Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
Warning signs that someone may be thinking about or planning to commit suicide include:
• Always talking or thinking about death
• Clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
• Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
• Losing interest in things one used to care about
• Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
• Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
• Saying things like, “It would be better if I were nothere” or “I want out."
• Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
• Talking about suicide
• Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
• Prior suicide attempts (According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20 and 50% of people who commit suicide have had a previous attempt)
What you can do if you have suicidal thoughts:
• Talk with trusted friends, family members, or others you respect who can assist you
• Talk with your doctor, mental health professional, or pastor. Many times, talking eases or removes suicidal urges. In some cases though, hospitalization is necessary until a sense of balance can be restored.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or a local hotline to speak with a crisis counselor.
John is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Speaker, and Author.
Here is an ancient thought that could provide encouragement.
Psalms 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
Click this link for a Free Depression Test
My first recollection of the zany comedy of Robin Williams goes all the way back to his guest appearance as Mork on “Happy Days.” Over the years, I followed him mainly through television and then through his movies. I have to admit, I rarely missed his late night appearances on Jay Leno because I knew it was going to be a roller coaster ride.
He did touch millions of lives through his art, his kindness, and the multitude of characters he played throughout his career. There are thousands of tributes to him on the internet. As a result, many bloggers are talking about things individuals can do if they are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.
This is where I want to jump in.
As a therapist with over 35 years of experience, I was thrown off guard when I heard the news of Robin Williams death. I began thinking about this three part series as a result of this incident and have thought long about what to say.
In following several blogs and conversations, I have only heard one commentary about some other possible issues that may have been going on William’s life. In addition to the impact of drug and alcohol abuse, which he’d been successfully treated for, and based on reports, he had maintained his sobriety, Williams had also had open heart surgery.
Dr. Drew Penski, in responding to the news of Williams death, reminded listeners that Williams had struggled with depression as well as the addiction issues. Penski reminded viewers that Williams had also undergone major heart surgery a few years ago. Dr. Drew spent several minutes talking about the psychological risks of having your chest opened up. He stated that for many people, this procedure, though life-saving can increase the chances of major depression. If someone is already “at risk” this surgery can make them even more prone to depression.
Williams had also been diagnosed with the Parkinson’s. This could have been another another factor that could have pushed him over the edge.
The loss of any life to suicide is tragic. Understanding depression, developing tools to help hurting people, and being present with friends in their tough times can go along way in helping people have hope and a future
My purpose in this three-part series is to look at what you and I can do for ourselves and for others who might be depressed or even suicidal.
I will close with a couple of important thoughts from two writer's
Andrea Lennon has some thoughtful reflections that I wanted to share:
Cliff Williams, author of a thoughtful article, "When Christians Contemplate Suicide", closes with a powerful reminder.
Philo of Alexandra wrote that we should always “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Everyone we meet is, indeed, fighting battles, many of the same battles, in fact, that suicidal people fight—difficult circumstances, mood swings, a sense of unworthiness, dejection. Some of the people we meet, including some of the people we know well, are fighting such big battles that they want to give up entirely. Our kindness can help them fight these battles. It can encourage them and strengthen them. It can save their lives.
My next blogs will focus on identifying depression, as well as practical tips you can use to push back depression.
Depression can be treated and symptoms managed. The National Suicide Hotline phone number is 1-800-273-8255.
John is Licensed Counselor, Speaker, and Author. His book, Get a Grip on Depression, is a faith-friendly guide to understanding depression. You may purchase this resource on Amazon/Kindle. To purchase an autographed copy directly from John, click here
This is the third and final blog of the 10 steps for Surviving a Rough and Tumble world. Here is a quick review of the first seven.
1. Practice optimism.
2. Find a resiliency model.
3. Develop a moral compass and unbreakable beliefs.
4. Practice generosity and kindness.
5. Develop acceptance and cognitive flexibility.
6. Face your fears and learn to control negative emotions.
7. Build an ever-expanding tool chest of active coping skills to manage stress.
8. Establish and maintain a supportive social network to help you.
Dr. George Bonanno's research, in his book The Other Side of Sadness, points out one of the ways that people and cultures move beyond trauma, depression and other life events is through community, family, and other networks of people that give us courage, motivation, and shared history to move forward. His research also reveal how important family, friends, and community are in dealing with depression. Learn more about this is my book, Get a Grip on Depression.
Hebrews 10:23-25 - “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now...(NLT)
9. Stay physically fit. One I need to work on. Dr. Oz suggests starting out with walking 30 minutes a day. It is a start.
1 Corinthians 6:19 - 20 - “Don’t you realize that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (NLT)
10. Laugh deep and often.
Whether it be some "Old School Comedy" like the Three Stooges or more modern comedians like Steve Harvey or Robin Williams, be sure to find something or someone that can help you keep life on the light side.
As sad as the loss of Robin Williams is, his humor and zany impressions, and his care for people will live on through the volume of work that he created over his life.
Proverbs 17:22 - “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (NLT)
Author Ben Sherwood, The Survivors Club, was surprised when Dr. Charney shared the most-surprising insight of his career is "the hidden capacity most people to rebound from adversity."
One ancient Latin phrase says it best, Plus estem voius.” There is more in you than you know. Lean into life today.
My next three part series will include some thoughts about depression in men, Robin Williams, and practical things you can do to help someone who is struggling with depression.
John is a Counselor, Author, Speaker and Photographer that helps people "Get a Grip on Life."