What Were You Thinking?

Feb 09, 2022


What Were You Thinking?

Have you ever said this to your kids, your spouse, your employees, a friend?

My husband, Joe, used to say this frequently to me and to our boys as they were growing up. And it drove me nuts. I HATED it when he said it, because it felt like he was insinuating that we weren’t thinking correctly (which would have been how he thinks).

He also loved to say we didn’t have any common sense. “Oh, you’re smart,” he’d say, “you just don’t have the ‘horse sense’ I do. You don’t see things reasonably or logically.”

This coming from the guy with schizophrenia.

And I was the one holding down a job. The kids were great students, made incredible friends, did well in their sports, played musical instruments and sang beautifully, and served responsibly in church and the community, but didn’t really think “correctly”—like he did.

Now the irony is funny, but back then it made me furious.

Because part of me (a dominant part) believed him. Deep down inside, I frequently asked myself the same question, usually as an insult when I’d made a mistake or stumbled or was wrong about something.

I was busy criticizing myself with the same thought but couldn’t take it when he said it because it showed me something I was uncomfortable with about myself. How could I possibly endure his unkind or critical comments when I dished out too many of my own?


Don’t Believe the Mean Person

Do you know anyone who has said something thoughtless or judgmental of you?

Like maybe, oh I don’t know, YOU?

We like to get all offended when other people say rude things, but we are often our own worst critics and bullies. Get off your back and be kind!

Instead of blaming yourself, be curious.

What was I thinking? becomes I wonder why I thought that way.

A subtle difference, but much kinder, and with an expectation of noticing and learning from our thinking instead of criticizing it.


Thought Work Creates Feelings Intentionally

Thoughts create emotions.

If you think someone loves you; it makes you feel something.

If you think a sketchy person loves you, you feel certain emotions because of your belief that the person is creepy. You might feel nervous, disgusted, or repulsed.

If you think your spouse or partner loves you, it makes you feel another way because of how you think about them. Knowing this person loves you will make you feel warm, comfortable, or giddy.

So, if both people were to say, “I love you,” the words are the same.

The WORDS don’t make you feel an emotion. It’s your thinking that gives meaning to the three words and creates your feelings.

So now the question is, how do you WANT to feel?

All your emotions are legitimate.

You’re uncomfortable with the sketchy person loving you.

You’re thrilled that your partner loves you. Either emotion is valid and helpful to inform you in nurturing the right relationship.


What Are You Thinking?

So, whatever you’re feeling that you do or don’t want to feel, it came from a thought, a belief, or an idea.

Backtrack to the thinking that prompted how you feel right now and decide if you like your reasons for believing it.

Observing your thoughts can be challenging and takes practice. Meditation can help you notice your thinking. Listening to the things you say can also help you see what you’re thinking.

You can do a 2-5 minute “thought download” each day to connect with your beliefs and ideas and ask yourself if you like them and want to keep them.

It’s totally up to you.

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