Iowa Specialty Hospital

Making the Rounds with Dr. Hurt

June 18, 2015

“Hunting Rats” 

Last week Amy talked about the symptom of negativity. This week I will attempt to “diagnose” it and “prescribe” treatment!

Imagine a pot of boiling water on the stove. If you dump a bunch of ice in the boiling water, it will stop boiling, but only temporarily, because the source of the heat has not been addressed. 

Now imagine that the pot of boiling water is your negative emotions and the source of the heat is erroneous thought patterns that have become automatic over time. To stop negativity and upgrade your potential for joy, you must either have lots of “ice”, or you must correct the negative thinking. The ice may take different forms: excessive food, television, alcohol, drugs, chronic busyness, or physical escapes. All these chill the water momentarily but do nothing to eliminate the cause of the heat. Even when you vent or “let off steam” by removing the pot’s lid, you are only temporarily keeping the water from boiling over and making a mess. The only way to stop the water permanently is to look underneath the pot and adjust the source. We do all sorts of silly things that fuel our negative emotions. As a result, we end up getting more of what we don’t want. We distort things, we exaggerate things, we amplify our experiences in life, and then we pick the wrong things to dwell on. 

What should we do? Dwell on the things that are working. Dwell on the things that are worthy of praise. Dwell on the good stuff! When you find yourself emotionally low, you can be pretty sure you are dwelling on the not-so-good stuff. In this low state your mind plays tricks on you. It’s important to start becoming aware of your emotions and how they quickly spiral upward and downward. This increased awareness shifts you from being the passenger in your emotional life to being the driver. Only when you notice changes can you begin to rise above the passive choices that fuel negative emotions. 

In Tommy Newberry’s book 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life, he describes negative thoughts that stand out more than others: “Really Awful Thoughts” or RATs. These thoughts terrorize your potential for joy! The first step is to become aware of your RATs. Then practice dropping your assumptions and conclusions, and refilling your mind with wisdom, positivity and creativity. Give it a try in your own way. 

So, as I always tell my wife (tongue in cheek), “Ninety percent of a problem is identifying it, and now that I have done the majority of the work it’s up to you to find a solution!”  

Thinking about what you don’t want to happen increases the odds that it will. – Robert Kriegel


-Dr. Michael Hurt, CMO

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