Like many people I suppose, a lot of ideas come to me when I’m listening to music.
Fair warning, to all my non-country music lovers… I’m a country music fan. So a lot of the time my ‘inspo’ comes from country songs and I am not afraid to admit it!
You can’t blame a girl, as I’ll even acknowledge that country music does have a lot of material to work with… (You know, you lose your house, your hair, the love of your life and then your dog dies…just pointing out what I know some of you are thinking… hehe)
As I continue to grow in my journey personally and professionally, and as you’re probably aware, I’ve recently decided to incorporate a more personal touch into these articles I write for you all every week. Writing about topics that I feel connected to.
Maybe it’s the season, but honestly it’s all been a little too personal. My inspiration has not run dry, If anything it’s the opposite. I am no longer questioning what to write about each week. It is quite the contrary, actually.
As there always is some sort of struggle, my new struggle is more along the lines of how to write about things that are meaningful to me without throwing up all over the page.
As most of us probably know all too well, when our emotions come into the mix, sometimes (most of the time) it feels as though our control goes out the window.
The song that resulted in my brief emotional/loss of control aka “most recent breakdown” (yes I was tearing up in the car, with one hand on the wheel and the other holding a pumpkin spiced latte…tis the season), if you will, was Kane Brown’s song, For My Daughter.
The specific lyrics that drew my fingers to the keys were…
They say dads are supposed to shape you, in a way, I guess mine didKane Brown
I knew what I wouldn’t do if I ever had a kid
They say history repeats itself
Well, I guess that’s up to me
Yeah, I grew up without a dad
I’m gonna be the best one I can be
Yeah I can’t change the past, but the past has sure changed me
Yeah, I grew up without a dad
I’m gonna be the best one I can be
With the holidays here, family is front and center and top of mind. The iconic Hallmark idea of “family” can really hit hard this time of year. Especially if your family doesn’t fit into the cookie cutter stereotype.
Am I right or am I right?!
Although, these song lyrics may not hit home for all of you, I’m guessing if you’re still reading this, one way or another they do for you.
For me, the dad part hits a home run with learning what not to do sliding into home base right behind it.
(Okay, I admit I’m not that into sports. Can I blame my dad for this? Lol, but I think that metaphor makes sense…I think.)
I grew up with my biological father. Truthfully, he was in and out of our lives. With me being so young and maybe mildly traumatized, honestly, I barely remember the part where he was actually in our lives.
Unlike some, I did have a step-father come into the family picture early on and although we never built that “daddy’s little girl” relationship, that I’ll admit I get jealous of during this time of year, we did do a pretty dang good job as presenting as your ‘stereotypical family unit.’
I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of my upbringing, at least not in this article, however thoughts of all the things my bio-dad, step-dad, and mom “should have done” has stalked me for most of my life.
It was until I got to a point in my life where I started to take a good look at why this idea of “what a family should be” was affecting me that I started to view things differently.
Cognitive Distortions are all over the place during the holidays. “Shoulds” are rearing their ugly heads everywhere. With idea of what “everyone” else has, coming in for a close second.
“The holidays SHOULD be…”
“My family SHOULD be like everyone else’s…”
“I SHOULD be able to…”
“My mom/dad (maybe alcoholic uncle) SHOULD be…”
The list goes on…
So once we get to the end of the road listing all of the things that our family “should” look like compared to everyone else’s, and specifically those damn Hallmark movie families (they are acting), what the heck do we do about it? How do we change our toxic thoughts about our families into something more positive?
First off, let me start off by saying, thinking differently about our family dynamic is not an overnight fix. It’s taken me many years to get to a point of even identifying this as a happiness hurdle, better yet doing something about it.
But… I can say that I’m not angry or resentful anymore. For me at least that was one of the hardest parts to move on from.
When something “should” be a certain way, the fact that it’s not that way you envision it “should” be can result in many different negative feelings.
For many, it is anger and of course those pesky underlying emotions like sadness (yes guys, you’re angry because you care).
But what if we used this “should” idea to our advantage?
What if we started to learn from this type of thinking?
If we start to identify all of the things that our family is doing right, instead of placing “shoulds” on it we can begin to eliminate unrealistic expectations created by society (or Hallmark in this case) and we start to just focus on the real ‘good’ happening within our family dynamic.
Personally, I know that once I was able to do learn “what not to do” from family, my personal, mental, emotional and even social life significantly improved.
Although nothing has changed in the past or even in the present really of how my family presents themselves and acts/behaves, my response to them has changed and most importantly… I’ve changed.
Instead of being angry at someone for not being the someone I think they should be, I’m learning from I want and do no want out of family as I move forward with my life.
The first step you can take to start changing the way you think of your family is to start to start becoming more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and reality.
To help you do this, I’m going to share the Cognitive Distortions list right out of the workbook I use with my clients.
Read through these get familiar with them and start to pay attention to when they rear their ugly heads in your thoughts (i.e. your cognitions/thoughts are distorted).
Once you become more aware of your own cognitive distortions, you can then start to work towards changing our thoughts and ultimately your feelings.
Being familiar with Cognitive Distortions may be the most helpful step of all to really make this mindset change.
Once you know what to look for, only then can you really start to identify what thought patterns are negatively affecting you. Then, you can work on changing those thoughts and learn from what is actually happening.
Since I truly believe in the power of action, I’ll also share with you my Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 3 Column Thought Log to help you get started on actively identify Cognitive Distortions in your thoughts.
I hope you find these tools helpful during this holiday season. If you ever have any questions or if I can help in any way, you know where to find me.
Always remember that we all have the ability to be who we want to be (YES Even YOU!), that we can reach all of our amazing goals (YES YOU here too!) and together let’s develop our Inherent Strengths to do so.