Thinking Styles Archives

What Are You Obsessing Over?

I have to understand EVERYTHING.

This has been my vice ever since I could remember. One of my favorite childhood memories is riding in the car with my daddy, irritating him to death, by bombarding him with a barrage of questions. thinking smiley face

Every time he would answer me, it was as if the answer wasn’t good enough. So, I would ponder more and more and more. With my pondering the question, “But, why?” would always follow.

After about two or three “But Why’s?”, my dad would respond to me, gritting his teeth, trying to keep from yelling out expletives, “So, you can ask d%$@ questions!”

Oooo! That would shut me up every time.

I would sit in the passenger’s seat with a smirk on my face, knowing that I must be on to something since either he did not know the answer or he just did not think I could comprehend or handle it.

I could never understand why he was so annoyed. He was my father, my personal encyclopedia. What was his problem? Did he not know his role in my life?

Did we really need to play the Quiet Game to every stoplight?

The bottom line was that when I did not know, I asked until the answer sat well with me. And, yes, it had to sit well with me. That was something that could not be helped….like an ingrained code in my DNA.

Nevertheless, his reaction always made me laugh.

It makes me laugh even still. :)

Getting a Grip on Obsessive Thoughts

Unfortunately, the pondering that I did (and I am sorry to say that I still do) developed into what is commonly called obsessing. It is a strong contrast to the more positively viewed character trait of being curious.

Obsessing can be debilitating.

It is the constant replay of thoughts in your mind about a situation, an event, a puzzling behavior or reaction, or the like. Not only do you think about it over and over and over again, you analyze it to the nth degree.

RemychaussebookRecently, while reading Living Life As An Exclamation Point by Remy Chausse, I learned that obsessive thoughts have a purpose. According to Remy, “They provide you with an opportunity to re-align with personal truths and values and find out what truly resonates with you.”  She further explains, “The key is to use the obsessive thought as a launching pad for growth….and then actually launch.”

The funny thing is I have been working on getting a grip on obsessing for some time, so when I opened her book and read the very first chapter, it was as if God had placed this book in my lap to help me see myself, understand myself, and then equip myself with strategies to make the necessary changes.

Remy spoke directly to me. How in the world did she do that?

She helped me immensely. In fact, I was in the midst of obsessing about something as I read chapter one:

Obsessive thoughts happen when your mind tries to take an irrational situation and make it rational; when you are trying to control a situation that you really can’t control. But you can accept what is, and turn those obsessive thoughts toward your vision of the life you want to create instead. When you know you are fixating on the problem, by consciously re-directing your thoughts to what you want instead of obsessing about what you don’t want, it’s easier to be calm and free of doubt.

While obsessive thoughts and doubts aren’t truth, they’re a clue to something important that’s struggling to come to the surface. What do you need to learn about you? (p.31)

Yikes!!!

I cannot tell you how those words just opened up the heavens for me. It was like being caged up in a room without windows for years and suddenly released to go outside to get some fresh air.

So, how about you?

What are you obsessing over?

  • Do you have obsessive thoughts about things that you cannot control like what somebody else has done or said?

  • Do you have obsessive thoughts about your own shortcomings?

  •  Perhaps, you have obsessive thoughts about things you just cannot comprehend, rationalize, or explain.

The good news is at the end of the day, Remy’s advice is right on point.

You can redirect your thoughts.

In fact, God has given you and I control over our thoughts. You can actually “train your brain” to obsess on things that are beneficial for you:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. Proverbs 23:7

Flipping the Script

So, instead of obsessing over things that cause stress and uneasiness, flip the script. Obsess over those things that build you up and support you as you walk in your divine personal brand. And since you cannot have positive and negative thoughts or emotions at the very same time, choose to occupy your mind with the positive.

Hearing From You

What has been your experience with obsessing? Have you mastered the ability to obsess over “those things” the Word has told you to think about?

Interested in reading Living Life As An Exclamation Point? Head over to www.remychausse.com.

You Create Your Own World

There you are with your thoughts…your ideas about who you are, what you deserve, how things should be.

Perhaps your past has you thinking that you should settle for what you have always gotten or maybe those in your inner circle have you convinced that you could never have or do what you see in your dreams….dreams you have, not when you are asleep, but when your eyes are wide open.

So, you dwell in that place, that miserable place, where nothing changes.

You wallow there.

And every single day you look in the mirror unfulfilled, discontent, and just miserable.

The harsh reality that you must face is that for the most part, your thoughts literally shape your world.

I know that may sound extreme or spooky deep, but if you take a moment and think about it, you may find some truth to it.

Thoughts are creative.

Everything in this world began with a thought. Meditation on that thought eventually became words. Those words led to actions that made that thought tangible—something we could see, hear, taste, or smell.

Isn’t that an incredibly, mind-boggling concept? 

I think so, and I will tell you why in just a moment.

In The Beginning

In Genesis, God, himself, demonstrated to us that the outer world becomes a reflection of the inner world (our thoughts) and mirrors back to us what we think about most of the time.

In other words, He showed us how He had thoughts about the physical world and then he spoke those thoughts into existence.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw the light and it was good, and he separated light from darkness. Genesis 1:3-4 (NIV)

And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.”  So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. Genesis 1:6 (NIV)

If you were to keep reading Genesis, you would see that verses 9, 14, 20, 24, 26, and 29 begin with “and God said” followed by what God did and how what He said came into existence.

In this same chapter, you would also find that we are created in His image.

So, why is the first chapter of the Word devoted to showing us this principle that is sometimes too deep for us to grasp?

Because it is probably the most fundamental principle of which our lives are based.

Whatever you think about on a regular basis surfaces into your reality and whatever you speak about constantly creates your world.

If you look closely, I am sure you will find this principle at work in your professional life and your personal life.

In Goals, How to Get Everything You Want—Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible, Brian Tracy puts it this way:

Unsuccessful people, unhappy people think and talk about what they don’t want most of the time. They talk about their problems and worries and who is to blame most of the time.

But successful people keep their thoughts and conversations on the topics of their most intensely desired goals. They think and talk about what they want most of the time. 

Ultimately, Brian Tracy is saying that both groups, the successful and unsuccessful, operate by the same principle—

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:20

So, what makes this principle incredibly, mind-boggling?

It is the fact that at the end of the day, you are responsible for your microcosm. Your thoughts and your words create it.

  • If it is not what you want it to be, you must take your thoughts under subjection and change them.
  • If it is not what you want it to be, you must change what you say.
  • And if it is not what you want it to be, you can no longer blame anyone else.

The buck stops with you.

God, who created you in His image, made it to be so.

Doesn’t that just blow your mind?

Today, make a decision to think thoughts and speak words that create the world in which you were destined to dwell.

It may take some work, but aren’t you worth it? :-)

VH1’s Basketball Wives.

Yes, I watch it. In fact, my DVR is set to record the entire series.  Let me confess. I love reality TV. Maybe I am nosey or maybe I am living vicariously through some of their lives, but either way, I look forward to my weekly dose of the drama. I guess I need a break from all of the “heavy” stuff that I read every day. Yes, let’s go with that excuse. :-)

Now, the one commonality I have noticed on all of the reality shows that I have watched (since I got hooked on the Real World back in the day) is that most of us do not know how to appreciate or communicate effectively with those who do not think the way that we do.  As a result, the contrast in thinking often causes frustration, incites anger, and in some cases, provokes violence.

This is unfortunate; but I can say that for me, it seems to mirror the REAL World (no pun intended). If I were to look at my personal and professional relationships, I can link disagreement, dissension, and disappointment to differences in thinking styles.

And even when I hear others speak of conflicts in their lives or their businesses, it all goes back to how differently people think.

Just last night, I watched an episode of Basketball Wives in which there were two sets of people who saw things completely differently. In one instance, it was two best friends who almost “fell out” forever due to a different perspective on loyalty, trust, and honor.

In the other instance, it was two women who barely knew each other, yet found themselves unable to engage in a healthy exchange of ideas. The first resulted in harsh words, rivers of tears, and finally, forgiveness. The latter resulted in smacks to the head, unsettling demonstrations of immaturity, and stenches of dehumanization.

Why? Okay, maybe it was for the ratings. But I propose that you may have experienced or known someone who has experienced conflicts with those they cared about dearly, as well as those they did not care enough to get to know. And, if you would think about it for a moment, you may find that it all goes back to how the two individuals’ ways of thinking were not congruent.

Well, this morning, I did what I love to do and that is, research.  I conducted my own research to find out if there were such things as thinking styles.

As an educator, I am very familiar with learning styles and higher-order thinking skills, but had not been fully acquainted with any theories on the various ways of thinking.

To my delight, I found a book called, The Art of Thinking by Allen F. Harrison and Robert M. Bramson, Ph.D. What a wonderful resource!

This book explains that no matter how much we like a person, or how compatible we find our personalities, we can still find that we approach problems differently, as a result of our thinking styles. And, this difference in approach can lead to major misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and non-productivity.

According to Harrison and Bramson,

Each of us has a preference for a limited set of thinking strategies. Each set of strategies has its strengths and liabilities. Each is useful in a given situation, but each can be catastrophic if overused or used inappropriately. Yet, almost all of us learn one or two sets of strategies, and we go through life using them no matter the situation.”

Our set of thinking strategies is based upon the kind of thinkers that we are. Harrison and Bramson have found that there are five thinking styles: the synthesist, the idealist, the pragmatist, the analyst, and the realist. And, if we desire to build relationships that are mutually satisfying and beneficial; if we desire to live in harmony in the world with those we encounter in business and in our personal lives; we must recognize the fact that we are all wired, differently.

Understanding of those differences is necessary. Appreciation of those differences is required.

The purpose of this post was not to delve into the various styles of thinking, but to open your mind (and mine) to the idea that your way of thinking is perhaps what is “right” to you and for you, but may not be a perspective that is shared by others.  And that does not make them wrong. And that does not make them right.

But, it does present the challenge of finding new ways to approach conflict or disagreement. It requires that we understand our own style of thinking and then learn specific methods for influencing and communicating with others in the most effective way.

So, to the Basketball Wives and the like, this is the lesson that must be learned:  We can all make a choice to live in harmony by simply appreciating “opposing” thinking styles…no smacks to the head needed. :-)


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