We are cancelling the Monday night Castimonia meeting at Fairfield Baptist for 9/2. The meeting will resume the following Monday night 9/9.
This article is in relation to children, but can truly be applied to men who struggle with negative thoughts.
All kids blow things out of proportion or jump to conclusions at times, but consistently distorting reality is not innocuous.
“I didn’t get invited to Julie’s party… I’m such a loser.”
“I missed the bus… nothing ever goes my way.”
“My science teacher wants to see me… I must be in trouble.”
These are the thoughts of a high school student named James. You wouldn’t know it from his thoughts, but James is actually pretty popular and gets decent grades.
Unfortunately, in the face of adversity, James makes a common error; he falls into what I like to call “thought holes.” Thought holes, or cognitive distortions, are skewed perceptions of reality. They are negative interpretations of a situation based on poor assumptions. For James, thought holes cause intense emotional distress.
Here’s the thing, all kids blow things out of proportion or jump to conclusions at times, but consistently distorting reality is not innocuous. Studies show self-defeating thoughts (i.e., “I’m a loser”) can trigger self-defeating emotions (i.e., pain, anxiety, malaise) that, in turn, cause self-defeating actions (i.e., acting out, skipping school). Left unchecked, this tendency can also lead to more severe conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
Fortunately, in a few steps, we can teach teens how to fill in their thought holes. It’s time to ditch the idea of positive thinking and introduce the tool of accurate thinking. The lesson begins with an understanding of what causes inaccurate thinking in the first place.
One person walks down a busy street and notices graffiti on the wall, dirt on the pavement and a couple fighting. Another person walks down the same street and notices a refreshing breeze, an ice cream cart and a smile from a stranger. We each absorb select scenes in our environment through which we interpret a situation. In essence, we create our own reality by that to which we give attention.
Why don’t we just interpret situations based on all of the information? It’s not possible; there are simply too many stimuli to process. In fact, the subconscious mind can absorb 20 million bits of information through the five senses in a mere second. Data is then filtered down so that the conscious mind focuses on only 7 to 40 bits. This is a mental shortcut.
Shortcuts keep us sane by preventing sensory overload. Shortcuts help us judge situations quickly. Shortcuts also, however, leave us vulnerable to errors in perception. Because we perceive reality based on a tiny sliver of information, if that information is unbalanced (e.g., ignores the positive and focuses on the negative), we are left with a skewed perception of reality, or a thought hole.
Eight Common Thought Holes
Not only are we susceptible to errors in thinking, but we also tend to make the same errors over and over again. Seminal work by psychologist Aaron Beck, often referred to as the father of cognitive therapy, and his former student, David Burns, uncovered several common thought holes as seen below.
- Jumping to conclusions: judging a situation based on assumptions as opposed to definitive facts
- Mental filtering: paying attention to the negative details in a situation while ignoring the positive
- Magnifying: magnifying negative aspects in a situation
- Minimizing: minimizing positive aspects in a situation
- Personalizing: assuming the blame for problems even when you are not primarily responsible
- Externalizing: pushing the blame for problems onto others even when you are primarily responsible
- Overgeneralizing: concluding that one bad incident will lead to a repeated pattern of defeat
- Emotional reasoning: assuming your negative emotions translate into reality, or confusing feelings with facts
Going from Distorted Thinking to Accurate Thinking
Once teens understand why they fall into thought holes and that several common ones exist, they are ready to start filling them in by trying a method developed by GoZen! called the 3Cs:
- Check for common thought holes
- Collect evidence to paint an accurate picture
- Challenge the original thoughts
Let’s run through the 3Cs using James as an example. James was recently asked by his science teacher to chat after class. He immediately thought, “I must be in trouble,” and began to feel distressed. Using the 3Cs, James should first check to see if he had fallen into one of the common thought holes. Based on the list above, it seems he jumped to a conclusion.
James’s next step is to collect as much data or evidence as possible to create a more accurate picture of the situation. His evidence may look something like the following statements:
“I usually get good grades in science class.”
“Teachers sometimes ask you to chat after class when something is wrong.”
“I’ve never been in trouble before.”
“The science teacher didn’t seem upset when he asked me to chat.”
With all the evidence at hand, James can now challenge his original thought. The best (and most entertaining) way to do this is for James to have a debate with himself.
On one side is the James who believes he is in big trouble with his science teacher; on the other side is the James who believes that nothing is really wrong. James could use the evidence he collected to duke it out with himself! In the end, this type of self-disputation increases accurate thinking and improves emotional well-being.
Let’s teach our teens that thoughts, even distorted ones, affect their emotional well-being. Let’s teach them to forget positive thinking and try accurate thinking instead. Above all, let’s teach our teens that they have the power to choose their thoughts.
As the pioneering psychologist and philosopher, William James, once said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
Only 5 spots left, register soon!
Castimonia’s Paratus Retreat is a retreat for any man who struggles with any type of sexual purity. Paratus, Latin for “equipped”.
If you are wondering about whether to attend this retreat, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you know the meaning of intimacy?
- Do you struggle with being intimate with your spouse or others?
- Are you fully equipped for the spiritual battle that is raging around us right now?
- Are you a man who strives for biblical sexual purity and intimacy with other men?
- Are you a man who struggles with maintaining that sexual purity or being intimate?
- Do you want a circle of brothers helping you in your sexual purity and intimacy journey?
Join us for a weekend dedicated to equipping adult men of all ages, all walks of life, and various levels of struggle with the tools necessary to wage this spiritual battle and emerge on the other side as the sexually pure men that God intended us to be.
At the Paratus Retreat, we will discuss strategies for equipping ourselves with tactics necessary for battling the enemy. We will discover the true meaning of brotherhood, fellowship, and intimacy. The leaders of the Paratus Retreat will set the example of vulnerability and accountability. We hope to pave the way for all men to be fully equipped to wage war against Satan’s tempting assaults and emerge VICTORIOUS.
The ultimate affirmation for all men is to hear at the end of days, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
A wise man is strong, And a man of knowledge increases power. For by wise guidance you will wage war, And in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Start: November 8 – 04:30 pm
End: November 10 – 12:00 pm
Organizer: Castimonia Restoration Ministry, Inc.
Cat Spring Retreat Center
14852 Hall Road
Cat Spring, TX, US, 78933
To view information on the Cat Spring Retreat Center, please visit this website:
*Refunds are as follows:
Full refund minus fees up to September 15th.
50% refund minus fees after September 15th and up to November 1st.
No refunds after November 1st (retreat credit only).
Retreat fee includes meals and lodging at the retreat center from Friday evening to Sunday morning. You will be required to bring bedding and toiletries for the beds and bathrooms at the retreat center.
If you need a scholarship or are coming from out of state, please contact email@example.com for info on a reduced or free admission to the retreat!
In a small church in rural south Mississippi, on a warm Sunday evening, I became willing to stand up in front of almost everyone I knew in my young life and tell them that I believed in Jesus. That I knew who He was and that I wasn’t Him. I professed my faith in Him as a savior and forgiver of sin. I trusted that He could and would save me from Hell. And that was that.
Very early in my life, I became willing to lie to protect myself. Small things, large issues, all required lies on my part, because the truth of my own loneliness wasn’t bearable on my own. I became willing to trade the consequences that came with lies being exposed for the false narrative that I wasn’t really alone or abandoned…I was in control.
I became willing to hide the pornography magazine I found of my Dad’s. I hid the shame I felt as well, wondering how I could keep looking at the women inside those pages over and over…and not being able to stop. That was my first real instance of powerlessness.
When we got expanded cable television, I became willing to sneak to our downstairs playroom to watch pornographic movies. Each night I would make sure the lights were all out, lay down on the couch so I could pretend to be asleep if someone walked in, and zone out watching movies that fed my desire for self gratification.
At the age of twelve, I became willing to not speak of the molestation my friend perpetrated on me. I buried that deep in my psyche, not speaking of it for almost forty years. The shame of that time deprived me of my victimhood, convincing me that I caused it. Not until recently, when discussing this with my wife, did I realize I never wanted it to happen or did anything to make it happen or try to seek out other boys to have sexual encounters. But when it happened, I became willing to continue to lie and hide my shame.
Throughout my youth, I remained willing to have God as my Lord but not as my savior. I remained willing to keep Him at a distance. Someone who’s name I knew but who didn’t really know me. I became willing to grow in my closeness to Him but not at the cost of my lying or growing sexual enthrallment.
In my early twenties, I became willing to marry my wife, to share my life with her. I didn’t become willing to share all of my life, holding back my secrets and lies. I allowed her to open all of herself to me without truly doing the same. The two of us became one and a half. Half to her, half to my lies and addiction.
For the next twenty years, I became willing to violate my promises to her. To lie to her over and over about my faithfulness, motives, truths, and stability. I sought out what was best for me and left behind what was best for us.
I became willing to lie to my boys, abandoning them to the same loneliness and anxiety that ruled my life. Manipulating them into thinking that anyone else but me was to blame for our separation. Spoon feeding them lies and deception, ultimately destroying any trust they had ever developed with me.
I became willing to leave my family, blaming my wife for my own path of devastation. Pointing at her as the source of our crumbling marriage, when I was the source of the abandonment she experienced. I became willing to walk away from her and my sons. Writing that statement makes my heart hurt and my stomach churn, but I know it to be true.
My wife became willing to tell me the truth, despite my actions. She accurately said that I would continue to spiral downward, never finding peace or fulfillment. She gracefully offered me a path out…the way out that God promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13, giving me an opportunity to endure.
I became willing to take it, to follow that way out. But not yet fully give over all of myself. The strongholds of lying and shame were too deeply rooted for me to overcome on my own. Not until the true discovery of my lying did I become truly willing to give up.
It was then and only then that I truly became willing. Willing to disclose all of my deceptions, secrets, lies, shame, hurts. Willing to show my true self to my wife, knowing that my exposure could damage her beyond repair…but knowing she deserved to know the father of her children and decide for herself.
I became willing to walk into a room with a circle of men, to listen to their stories, to ultimately share my own. To realize that I had never been the only one. They too felt abandoned, suffered abuse, incorporated shame as truth, and hid it all from the world.
I became willing to share my junk, to dig deep into my present and past, to give my life and will to God, and to inventory the flaws requiring His grace. Through those steps, I began to see myself as a human being, broken, and yet forgiven.
Once I became willing to reach the end of myself, I became willing to give Him all of me. In doing so, He gave me something back. My life. My marriage. My sons. Gifts that were there the whole time but that I could only see through His love for me.
I encourage you brother. Become willing…
SOURCE: Leslie Vernick
I receive frantic calls and e-mails each week from Christian women (and some men) who feel scared, trapped, hopeless and helpless because their most intimate relationship is abusive; verbally, physically, economically, sexually, spiritually or all of the above. The Bible has something to say about the way we treat people and as Christians we should all strive to be Biblically wise in how we handle these difficult and painful family issues.
Below are five Biblical principles that will guide your thinking about this topic.
1. Abuse is always sin. The Scriptures are clear. Abuse of authority or power (even legitimate God given authority) is always sin. Abusive speech and/or behavior is never an acceptable way to communicate with someone. (Malachi 2:16-17; Psalm 11:5; Colossians 3:8,19).
2. Abuse is never an appropriate response to being provoked. In working with abusive individuals they often blame the other person. This can be especially tricky when trying to counsel couples. There is no perfect person and victims of abuse aren’t sinless. However, we must be very clear-minded that abusive behavior and/or speech is never justified, even when provoked. People provoke us all the time but we are still responsible for our response (Ephesians 4:26; Luke 6:45)
3. Biblical headship does not entitle a husband to get his own way, make all the family decisions, or to remove his wife’s right to choose. At the heart of most domestic abuse is the sinful use of power to gain control over another individual. Biblical headship is described as sacrificial servanthood, not unlimited authority and/or power. (Mark 10:42-45). Let’s not confuse terms. When a husband demands his own way or tries to dominate his wife, it’s not called biblical headship, its called selfishness, and abuse of power. (See, for example, Deuteronomy 13; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2-4 for God’s rebuke of the leaders of Israel for their self-centered and abusive shepherding of God’s flock.)
4. Unrepentant sin always damages relationships and sometimes people. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2-5) and from one another (Proverbs 17:9). It is unrealistic and unbiblical to believe that you can continue healthy fellowship with someone who repeatedly sins against you when there is no repentance and no change. We are impacted in every way. (See Proverbs 1:15; 14:7; 21:28; 22:24; 1 Corinthians 15:33).
5. God’s purpose is to deliver the abused. We are to be champions of the oppressed and abused. God hates the abuse of power and the sin of injustice. (Psalm 5,7,10,140; 2 Corinthians 11:20; Acts 14:5-6.
What’s next? How should we respond when we know abuse is happening to someone?
We must never close our eyes to the sin of injustice or the abuse of power, whether it is in a home, a church, a work setting or a community or country (Micah 6:8). The apostle Paul encountered some spiritually abusive leaders and did not put up with it. (2 Corinthians 11:20). Please don’t be passive when you encounter abuse.
However, because we too are sinners, we are all tempted to react to abusive behavior with a sinful response of our own. The apostle Paul cautions us not to be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
Below are five (5) biblical guidelines that will help you respond to the evil of abuse with good.
1. It is good to protect yourself from violent people. David fled King Saul when he was violent toward him. The angel of the Lord warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Jesus because Herod was trying to kill him. Paul escaped from those who sought to stone him. We must help people to get safe and stay safe when they are in abusive relationships. This is not only good for her and her children, it is good for her abusive partner. If you are not experienced in developing a safety plan and assessing for lethality (often women are more at risk when they leave an abusive partner), refer or consult with someone who is knowledgeable in this area (Proverbs 27:12).
2. It is good to expose the abuser. Secrets are deadly, especially when there is abuse in a home. Bringing the deeds of darkness to light is the only way to get help for both the victim and the abuser. If you are working with a couple and notice that the woman defers to her husband, regularly looks to him before she answers, blames herself for all their conflicts, speak with them separately. (Proverbs 29:1; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20). If you are a victim of an abusive relationship, it is not sinful to tell, it is good to expose the hidden deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Biblical love is always action directed towards the best interest of the beloved, even when it is difficult or involves sacrifice (1 Thessalonians 5:14; Hebrews 3:13).
3. It is good not to allow someone to continue to sin against you. It is not only good for the abused person to stop being a victim, it is good for the abuser to stop being a victimizer. It is it is in the abuser’s best interests to repent and to change. (Matthew 18:15-17; James 5:19-20).
4. It is good to stop enabling and to let the violent person experience the consequences of his/her sinful behavior. One of life’s greatest teachers is consequences. God says what we sow, we reap (Galatians 6:7) A person who repeatedly uses violence at home does so because he gets away with it. Don’t allow that to continue. (Proverbs 19:19). God has put civil authorities in place to protect victims of abuse. (Romans 13:1-5) The apostle Paul appealed to the Roman government when he was being mistreated. (Acts 22:24-29). We should encourage victims to do likewise.
5. It is good to wait and see the fruits of repentance before initiating reconciliation. Sin damages relationships. Repeated sin separates people. Although we are called to unconditional forgiveness, the bible does not teach unconditional relationship with everyone nor unconditional reconciliation with a person who continues to mistreat us.
Although Joseph forgave his brothers, he did not initiate a reconciliation of the relationships until he saw that they had a heart change. (See Genesis 42-45.)
Biblical repentance is not simply feeling sorry (2 Corinthians 7:8-12). Repentance requires a change in direction. When we put pressure someone to reconcile a marital relationship with an abusive partner before they have seen some significant change in behavior and attitude we can put them in harm’s way. We have sometimes valued the sanctity of marriage over the emotional, physical, and spiritual safety of the individuals in it.
The apostle Paul encourages us to distance ourselves from other believers who are sinning and refuse correction. (See 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15).
A person cannot discern whether a heart change has taken place without adequate time. Words don’t demonstrate repentance, changed behaviors over time does. (Matthew 7:20; 1 Corinthians 4:20)
As Christians we have the mandate and the responsibility to be champions of peace. Dr. Martin Luther King said “In the end what hurt the most was not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”