Spring: Time to Clean Our Minds
It has been a hard winter for most, except for my friend living in Hawaii who reminds me of how warm it is there. I enjoy seeing the birds return, plants growing and Natives starting to look for wild onions, asparagus and ramps. For many, the springtime wonders are hard to fully enjoy. Our moods can keep us from appreciating the good things.
Our thoughts control our moods, so when a person is down or grumpy, we tend to notice things that match our moods. The Coyote Thoughts, which trick a person into thinking the worst, will keep them focused on the bad rather than the good. “Stop and smell the roses” has been a popular phrase meaning to slow down and enjoy life. However, someone wrapped up by Trickster Thoughts will often not even notice the roses, causing the person to miss the quality things in life that the Creator has provided.
Tricksters are sly. They seem close to the truth, but they fool you, causing problems in our daily lives. Just as one coyote isn’t much of a problem, if you let it hang around, it will call in its buddies and a pack of coyotes will take you down. The more Trickster Thoughts, the more problems you will have. Worry, regret or anger is the result of believing the Tricksters.
Over 20 years ago, I was going through a hard time. I felt extremely bad. I was having Trickster Thoughts, like, “This will never end”, “I will never find a job”, “I am a loser”, and worse. I didn’t know about those types of thoughts, so I let them control me and my feelings. They almost took me all the way down. I was depressed 24 hours a day for months. It was tremendously painful. Just a five-minute break from the stress would be welcome. So I asked the Creator for a five minute vacation from my depression. That is all I wanted. When a person feels that bad, it is very difficult to see the good things in life. I asked several times again and then my five minute vacation came in the form of a yellow finch that was checking out my yard. The lousy feeling lifted while I was thinking about and enjoying the finch, wondering where it might have wintered. Not a bad thought was in my head during those five minutes. It flew away and I felt bad again. Since the Creator provided first my five-minute vacation, I decided to ask for a 20-minute vacation from my depression. It also came. I was feeling better, at least for a little while. So I kept asking for more and more vacation time. The vacations kept coming.
This may not sound like much, but depression is often 24 hours a day and a break is extremely helpful. It doesn’t matter if a person is suffering from non-stop anger, sadness or fear, getting a vacation can break the cycle of non-stop misery. During this time I bought a book on cognitive distortions (I later renamed them Trickster Thoughts) and learned how to spot them and chase them away. I have not been depressed since.
It is important to pay attention to our thoughts because thoughts can be so powerful that they can prevent us from enjoying the simple moments. It is Spring and time to clean house and your mind of the pesky Trickster Thoughts. So I invite you to do some Spring cleaning. As you are getting your garden ready, cleaning out
Dr. Beau Washington received his doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado. A member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Beau grew up at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, where his Father was a teacher. While researching depression, he also discovered the wide range of problems that rumination (dwelling) on problems creates in other mental problems as well. His active understanding of ruminative thought lead to developing a technique for effectively stopping the painful thoughts that plague distressed individuals. In addition, Beau developed cognitive models of depression and addiction.
Beau’s therapy model is entering the clinical trial stage at the University of New Mexico. He is training behavioral health clinics in his therapy. Beau is also adapting his therapy for sports, making it easier for players to focus on the moment.
He has also developed a Native suicide prevention program called “Coyote Thoughts” ©2013. Beau has trained Native mental health clinics and presented at reservations as well as regional and national conferences. Visit his website coyotethoughts.com.
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