The Saturn Minivan...photo credit unknown.

Paranoid…and a Saturn Minivan

“Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.”

Funny, right? An ironic funny comment that I’ve laughed at and quoted over the years. But the reality is that in most situations people are not thinking about us nearly as much as we think they are. We say something and then we obsess over it, over-analyze it and wonder if the other person is upset, bothered, annoyed by what we’ve said or done when most of the time they don’t give it a second thought.

Usually, these over-analyzing thoughts are the result of negative self-chatter and so often it can lead to misunderstandings. I remember one day, years ago when I was watching the news and saw that Saturn was coming out with a minivan. My husband had worked for Saturn so I thought he would find it interesting. I said, “Hey, did you see that Saturn is coming out with a mini-van? Cool, huh?”

The Saturn Minivan…photo credit unknown.

We liked the Saturn brand and philosophy. My thoughts were simply that I was glad to hear they had one. I knew that at some point in the future we would probably look at mini-vans. I was glad to know Saturn would now be in the mix. That was the sum total of my thoughts on the subject and I immediately moved on to whatever was next in my brain, like “Geez, I have to come up with something for dinner, again?” or “I like coffee.” or “I wonder if tea tastes the same in England.” Some random grouping of thoughts occupied my brain (as usual).

But not my husband’s. No, his thoughts went something like this: “She wants a Saturn mini-van now. We can’t afford that. Why does she want things we can’t afford. She probably wishes she married someone who has more money. I can’t even provide the basics for my family, like a Saturn mini-van. I’m a terrible provider…” blah, blah, blah. (I can’t say these were his exact thoughts, of course. But we have talked about the “Saturn Minivan Incident” (as we now refer to it) and I know these thoughts are close.

He responded angrily, “We can’t get a minivan right now,” and he stalked off. I was brought out of my reverie on tea in England abruptly. I could have sworn I heard the squeal of said minivan tires interrupting my peaceful thoughts.

“What?” I was puzzled and starting to get ticked. Why was he yelling at me. I didn’t say I wanted a minivan. So I yelled back. “What are you talking about??”

You can picture the ensuing argument. “You said…” “No I didn’t, I said…” Etc. etc. etc. We worked it out because we eventually got to the bottom of things. What I said hit a nerve with him. He assumed I meant something I didn’t and was holding me accountable for things he assumed I was thinking. But I married a smart man. He realized quickly what had happened. He explained what he’d thought and I was able to assure him that I was thinking none of those things! It’s now something that we laugh about and reference whenever one of us is assuming things we shouldn’t.

I’m positive the shoe has been on the other foot at times in our marriage. I’m quite sure I have assumed his thoughts to be other than they are and I’ve responded out of hurt or anger. I just can’t think of a specific example right now (convenient ;)).

In her book, Unglued, Lysa TerKeurst sheds some light on the physiological effects of negative self-talk. Or as she puts it, “What some really smart people are saying about some really amazing stuff.” If I could, I’d quote the whole chapter entitled, “Negative Inside Chatter” here. But I think that would be frowned upon 😉 so you’ll have to purchase the book (which I highly recommend!!). But in this paragraph Lysa is quoting Dr. Caroline Leaf from her book, Who Switched Off My Brain:

“For instance, if you are anxious or worried about something, the hypothalamus responds to this anxiety with a flurry of stress chemicals. These chemicals engage the pituitary gland — the master gland of the endocrine system. The endocrine system in turn secretes hormones responsible for organizing trillions of cells in your body to deal with impending threats. Negative thoughts shift your endocrine system to focus on protection and limit your ability to think with wisdom or develop healthy thoughts.”

 

Whoa! Did you catch that last line? I’ll repeat it. Negative thoughts shift your endocrine system to focus on protection and limit your ability to think with wisdom or develop healthy thoughts.

I think that’s incredible. Not only do the silly things we tell ourselves cause misunderstandings and hurt feelings. They actually make it difficult for us to think in a healthy way. I almost think this is saying it makes us dumber. That’s totally my paraphrase. But it’s kind of true. The kind of negative self-chatter that we are talking about causes us to do and say stupid things. It makes us dumber.

So, STOP IT! Yes, I know it’s considered shouting when you use all caps. That’s why I did it. Cuz I mean it…and only cuz I love you…STOP IT! You know who you are. You know if you’re one of those people who over-analyze your conversations and wonder if people are upset with you because of what you said. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here; If someone is upset by what you’ve said or done it is their responsibility to either let it go (best option…being easily offended is not healthy) or to kindly let you know you’ve upset them in some way.

It is not your job to constantly wonder if someone’s upset with you. That takes your focus of of Jesus and showing his love to the world and places it squarely on yourself. Is that really where you want your focus? It’s not where I want mine. I don’t want to be dumber. I want to be peace-filled and living out my mission which is to be an ambassador of God’s love with my life.

Lysa quotes Philippians 4: 6-9 and it’s one of my favorite passages of scripture:

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

That is the opposite of becoming dumber. That is putting your concerns on the shoulders of the One who can handle them and in exchange, he will give you PEACE. And with that peace, you will have more mental energy to think about noble, right, pure, admirable and lovely things. You will live the life that you are meant to live, tell the story you’re meant to tell. I’m feeling preachy…so I’m gonna sign off now. I hope this has been as enlightening for you as it was for me. And really…get the book. (click here) It’s sooo good!
Love,
rebekah
P.S. Check out other blogs on this subject at www.melissataylor.org

 

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14 thoughts on “Paranoid…and a Saturn Minivan”

  1. LOVE that paranoid quote! So funny…I need to borrow that.

    Ahhh….husband/wife interactions and how things escalate way quicker than we expect sometimes…I know those moments all too well. I’m really appreciating Unglued too…for all of the reasons you mention. EVERY woman should read it!

    1. Thanks Lisa. I agree…Every woman and heck…why not every man too? We could all use a little help dealing with our little emotional dictators! 🙂 Oh, and borrow away! That quote has been a part of my vernacular so long that I don’t remember where I first heard it. 🙂

  2. Hi! That was what I hoped you had meant in your blog. I guess I haven’t read enough yet to know exactly what you mean when it’s unclear. I’m definitely on the same page but not a writer so I don’t say it as eloquently as you did!! I also know easily offended people and undertstand that they need to make their hearts right with God and stop blaming others. Thanks for such a quick response:)

    1. Thanks for stopping by Elaine! Ironically, the saturn story that started out as a negative situation has become something my husband and I often reference and laugh at. Love how that can happen. And I think we’ve all been there at least a couple times! 😉

  3. Hi Rebekah! I love the humor and honesty on your blog which (mixed with a dose of good wisdom) makes them a great read:) I was struck by your statement in this post, however, about how if you offend someone, it is their responsibility to let it go or to approach you. Maybe I am over analyzing (!!) or misunderstanding but I believe that if you offend someone and are convicted by the Holy Spirit or just know you were wrong you need to go make it right. Otherwise, it gives people permission to offend others with no responsibility. I guess there may be cases where you were unaware of the offense but I haven’t had very many of those in my life because the Holy Spirit is quick to reveal those also if you’re willing to listen.
    I am a recent addition to your readers so this is the first time I’ve heard this statement from you but Romans 14:19 says “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” To me, that means not waiting until the offended approaches you, but going to them first and making peace. I think sometimes God uses these situations to glorify himself if we handle them in a godly way.

    1. Hi Rachel,
      Love your comment and appreciate your question. I have a feeling we are talking about different things. If I felt convicted by the Holy Spirit that I had hurt someone or offended them in some way, I would absolutely check with them to see if that was the case and then apologize for what I had done.

      But the problem I was addressing was people who are constantly analyzing their conversations out of insecurity and wondering if a comment they made or something they did offended someone. That’s a different animal. It’s unhealthy.

      I know that in general, I am not an offensive person and my friends know that if I did say something that upset them, I would absolutely want them to tell me. I would want to know. But I know too many people that either 1) Imagine that they’ve offended people and therefore waste countless hours obsessing when they should be spending their time on more worthwhile, outward focused pursuits. Or 2) are so easily offended that they walk around wounded all the time waiting for someone to say, “What’s wrong, why are you upset,” rather than just going to the person and asking them for clarification on what they said or did. Does that make sense?

      There’s a difference between someone sinning against me and me just being offended by something. I think that most of the time, if I’m offended, the onus is on me to go to God and ask him why I’m letting something small bother me. There’s probably a lesson he has for me and I’d rather deal with my junk than make someone else feel bad about something they probably didn’t mean. Proverbs 19:11- “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” I love that verse and find that to be the best course most of the time…overlook it and ask God for help. However, if you have an offensive person in your life, someone who has a pattern of behavior that is offensive, I would definitely approach the subject with them. I don’t believe in giving anyone a license to offend. That’s more of a toxic relationship and that’s a whole other blog post!!

      Does that mini-novella answer your question? 🙂

      love,
      rebekah

  4. Holy Smack! Rebekah,
    This is a great blog. Forget the fact that in my opinion it’s well written, easy to follow, entertaining, honest, lets the reader get to know you a little.

    I love that last paragraph, the bolder sentence, put my concerns on the shoulder so the ONE who can handle them – HE gets the problems, worries, anxieties, stresses, etc and I GET PEACE.

    Amen! You could’ve kept preaching….I would’ve kept reading and enjoying.

    Blessings,
    Catherine
    OBS Group Leader

    1. Catherine! You keep leaving comments that make me want to have coffee with you 🙂 Thank you for stopping by again and for your encouraging words. God Bless!
      ~rebekah 🙂

  5. WOW! Great blog Rebekah! I’ve been told I analyze a lot. I do know what you mean though when you said your husband thought you were saying something different then you were meaning, that happens a lot between myself and my brother, it’s a man thing I think!

    1. Haha, maybe but it’s probably more of a human thing 😉 I know I’m guilty of it! My hubby was a good sport letting me tell about his over reaction, don’t you think? 🙂 Thanks for subscribing Wende!!

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