Why do we think the thoughts that we think? Why do we think our thoughts in the way that we think them? Until we go to therapy, we may never take the time to consider where some of our thoughts come from? Where did we pick up these narratives? When did we decide to believe in the thoughts we are thinking as if they are absolute truth? Have we ever even considered the idea that we might be able to change our thoughts, change our beliefs, change our perceptions, and thereby possibly change our lives? Most often we haven’t considered this on a grand scale. Many times, as adults, we’ve likely practiced changing our perception on something, like worrying about our kids. Parents know what it is like to drown in an never ending tsunami of worst-case scenarios, only to reach a bottoming out point. We shake ourselves out of it, reassuring ourselves, “They’re probably fine.” We tell ourselves we’ve taught them well, we trust their instincts, and whatever comes our way, we will be able to handle it. This reframing and reprocessing tool is one that our children in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction are learning to use for themselves. By practicing it in our adult lives, we can help our teens practice reframing in their lives. NPR explains in “For Teens Knee-Deep In Negativity, Reframing Thoughts Can Help” that reframing thoughts is “the ability to take notice of their thoughts, to step back and view the bigger picture, and to decide how to act based on that more realistic perspective.” The article explains that when adolescents undergo life transitions, for example, going to treatment to get sober, they are “especially vulnerable to believing the worst.” Problematically, such negative thinking like “I’ll never get sober” “I’ll never have any fun” “All my friends will ditch me” “How will I fit in?” “What if I can’t make it?” and more, “can lead to chronic anxiety, depression and anger, and can interfere with relationships and success in school.” For teens seeking recovery through treatment, these negative thoughts can interfere with their success in sobriety. Reassuring our child that everything is going to be okay, that they are capable, that they will be fine is something parents are used to. Parents might not be used to helping their child believe these sentiments for themselves, instead of just relying on our authority. In our next article, we’ll look at common types of negative thinking among teens and strategies for helping teens reframe their thoughts.
Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center offers long term residential treatment programs for addiction recovery. Our programs involve the whole family for foundation building, life cleansing change.
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