Paranoid…and a Saturn Minivan

Hey friends…I’ve been working on my second novel and haven’t gotten to blog as much as I’d like. So, I decided to put up one of my favorite posts from the past. I apologize…this one is longer than I usually write…but it’s sort of a story. I think you’ll like it 🙂

 

 

“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
Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Unloved or Disrespected?

(While on vacation…I’m posting some of my most popular posts. Here’s one about the crazy cycle…are you in it?)

Which one are you feeling? If you’re married and you’re struggling it’s probably one of the two. During marital conflict, men most often feel disrespected while women most often feel unloved. A few years ago, my husband and I did a book study with friends based on the national best-seller, Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. The foundational principles in the book are absolutely enlightening.

A friend emailed me last week asking me some questions about showing respect to your spouse and I immediately thought of the Love & Respect book. So I thought I’d outline the principles in a post and I highly recommend the book if you want more details. (Caveat here: As an author I’m embarrassed to say that I’m a terrible non-fiction reader. I rarely finish non-fiction books and I’m more likely to skim them than read them word for word. So, that being said, I skimmed the book and absolutely loved the principles outlined. But I have no recollection of the writing style or ease of reading the book. Still…whether it’s an easy or hard read, it’s worth learning what he has to say.) Now I’m going from skimming memory, so bear with me. The basic idea is that while we all need both love and respect, women feel the need for love more strongly and men feel the need for respect more strongly.

This becomes a problem because, in general, women show love to their husband more naturally than they show respect, and the opposite is generally true for men. So in a marriage relationship we often get caught up in what Eggerichs calls “The Crazy Cycle.” When a woman feels unloved, she responds by disrespecting her husband (making him feel unimportant or unworthy and not appreciating him for who he is). And when a man feels disrespected, he responds by being unloving (silent treatment, lack of response to emotion, etc.). And now we’re back to where we started with the woman feeling unloved and therefore acting like she doesn’t respect her husband, etc., etc,. etc. Does this sound familiar? It really doesn’t matter if the chicken or the egg came first (did he act unloving first or did she act disrespectful first?). The point is that someone has to stop the cycle.

Here’s how: If it’s the wife, she has to show respect to her husband (even if she doesn’t feel it yet) even if his behavior doesn’t inspire her to do so. This is hard. No question. But it works. And if it’s the husband, he needs to be loving toward his wife, even if she makes him feel disrespected. Someone has to get them off the crazy unloving/disrespecting merry-go-round they are caught on or they will likely spiral into a national statistic.

Eggerichs bases his ideas on Ephesians 5:33- “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Until I read his book I had never noticed the distinction in that verse. If you’d asked me to quote it from memory I would have told you I thought it said that we should love each other like we love ourselves. Nope! It tells the husbands to love and the wives to respect. Now does that mean that wives don’t need to love and husbands don’t need to respect? No. It’s just that women, in general, tend to be nurturers so loving comes more naturally and men tend to have an inborn sense of honor so respecting can come more naturally. This verse is addressing us in our respective weaknesses.

Don’t believe it? Think about it. How many times have you seen a wife publicly dis her husband? When I was a young wife I used to feel awkward when I’d go out with a group of women because it seemed that the topics often turned husband bashing and I didn’t want to do that. I would just stay quiet cuz I didn’t want to be like, “Well, I don’t know about you but my husband is awesome.” (Although it would have been a nice thing to do for my husband, I didn’t have the courage and was worried I’d lose friends!)

Think about TV commercials…how often are husbands painted as complete idiots that couldn’t find the front door without their superior wife’s help? And on the flip side, how often are women painted as objects of lust, not love? It’s not popular to cherish a woman. It’s popular to judge her merits based on her cup size. Not loving.

So the scripture is aimed at getting us to do that which doesn’t come naturally. And it’s not easy. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure it’s possible without God’s help. But He’s willing to help us and it is so worth it. Doing what this verse says breaks the crazy cycle and creates a positive cycle that goes something like this. He starts acting loving to her even though she’s been belittling him. She may not trust it at first, but the more he shows her love, the more she begins to show him respect. She appreciates him and even begins to tell him so. This makes him feel respected which makes him more determined to be loving to his wife, etc., etc., etc.

The other thing that practicing this way of communicating does is it automatically shifts our focus from ourselves (“He’s not treating me right, she’s doesn’t appreciate me.”) onto the other person. This goes against our natural instincts. We want to protect ourselves and not be vulnerable. But the irony is that the more we focus on our spouse, the more they usually respond and act the way we’ve wanted them to all along. Now, there are exceptions to this and I must  include that if you are in an abusive relationship, this is not for you. You need to get out and get help. But if you are in a marriage where both people truly want to make it work but don’t know how, reading this book and putting the principles into practice could be life changing.

How about you? Are you stuck in the crazy cycle or have you found your way out of it? If you have any suggestions about how a husband can be more loving or a wife can show her husband she respects him, please share in the comments section below or on Facebook. If enough of you share, I may do a follow-up post giving people concrete ideas of how to put the Love & Respect principles into play. Thanks!

Oh, and after I wrote this I saw a beautiful little video posted on Facebook that highlights an amazing selfless love. If you’d like to see it you can click here.

 

Love,

rebekah

Love & Respect is available on Amazon.com here. (I am not on commission, btw ;))

To access the Love & Respect website click here.

 

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012