“Thoughts aren’t facts; so don’t take them seriously…”
When I was having coffee in café “Felix” in Tervuren, my eyes caught this saying on the drawing by A. Ghijselings: “Thoughts aren’t facts; so don’t take them seriously…” I even decided to buy a drawing.
“Thoughts aren’t facts” – it is so true in many situations. A depressed person sees everything in black, he thinks that “my situation is very bad”, “I am worthless”, which may not reflect his or her situation at all. Sometimes we may be thinking that “this person does not like me” or “he is ignoring me because I did not agree with his opinion”, which may be untrue.
The same goes regarding ourselves. When a child misbehaves, we often automatically give various unchecked reasons. “You want me to be late at work’ – when a preschooler unsuccessfully tries to put on his shoes. “You do not listen to what I say on purpose” – when you ask a toddler to go straight ahead and he doesn’t. “You want me to be your slave” – when a schoolboy does not tidy the kitchen as was agreed. A lot of accusations continues in your head, which augment your anger at your children. But what if a preschooler wants to be independent by putting his own shoes on and does not understand the time yet. What if a toddler is interested in exploring trees around the road and is too young to concentrate on walking without noticing anything. What if your boy is extremely tired after school and simply forgets the kitchen.
According to a cognitive therapy, it is useful to evaluate how true your beliefs are, let’s say from 1 to 10. If it is not very true, what better statement could you think of?
Alfie Kohn in his book “Unconditional Parenting” advices to “attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts”. I think it is a very useful advice. In reality we do not really know our children’s motivation, do we? When your son does not tidy the kitchen, and you simply assume that he has forgotten, probably you will nicely remind him instead of yelling at him. Everybody benefits here – your son does not feel humiliated and you feel better.