When my mother was in the late stages of her alzheimers, in the 5 years before she died, her levels of fear increased exponentially until it became Paranoia. Though it was a nightmare for us to deal with her, I can not even imagine what it might have been like for her. What is sad - her paranoia, paired with her inability to process the sounds and images around her, made people not believe her. So when she was trying to tell us about things that were actually happening, we didn't believe that either. I was mortified later when I figured out some of the things we should have believed. Purhaps we could have eased her mind a bit. What has any of this to do with our subject this week - negative self talk? A lot.
In the last few months before Mom passed, she didn't know who I was most of the time. She was afraid of everything! I brought her into my home. It was not long however, before we discovered that the paranoia was going to win against all efforts we made to make life easier for her. When she didn't know us most of the day, and decided that my home was hers, and my husband was hers, and the food we bought was all hers, etc. etc., she began to try to make us leave our own home. She wouldn't eat the food I made or drink the water I poured for her. In fact, her mind was so paranoid, that I began to fear her. She thought she had a need to be afraid of me, totally unfounded, but she did things in preparation to "defend herself." One night she reached for the broom as I came near her. Totally in tears, I took her back to a facility where they put her on a calming medication, that brought out the sweet in her, but made her incapable of doing so many of the things we retrained her to do. Like taking a bath, and putting on clean clothes. Her life was reduced to sitting in a chair.
Before she could enter the care facility, she had to go through a program for 2 weeks where they determined what meds would best help her be calm. At that facility, her doctor sat down with me to discuss what got her to a place of being so combative and so paranoid. She had in his opinion become a mentally ill, paranoid. I told him of my abusive father, and how some of her fears developed from her disability. It made sense to me that life"s struggles had changed her. But he said that all the earlier negative things in life, and her general negative attitude about them, had become her whole mental attitude, as the disease progressed. What could be worse than a negative self talk is that the paranoia it causes over takes everything you know. He warned that if I had her personality, I should do everything in my power to learn to smile every chance I got. The more you train your brain for joy, the more joyful you are likely to be when you can no longer control it, he said.
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Ephesians 4:23
But since the doctor explained that negativity is something that gradually replaces your good thinking as you age, I realize it is worth any extra effort to do all I can to realign my thinking toward God's uplifting, joyful, mindset. Anything, with that much power over our future, needs the overcoming power of God. I often feel like I don't belong..anywhere. I struggle to fit in. My joy has come in knowing I don't have to fit in. God has no requirement that I fit into anyone's box. All he requires of me is to look to him to know what is the best me I can be. Coupled with the effort to lose the negative self and outlook, is learning not to be defensive when people accuse you of it. I am on a quest not to die unhappily, as my mother did.
I used to sing a children's song that focused on what it was like to be in God's mindset:
"I have peace like a river, I've got Peace like a river, I've got Peace like a river in my soul..." Repeat.
2nd verse: "I have Joy like a river..." and 3rd verse "I have love like a river" repeated 5 times.
Just singing it was an exercise in retraining my mind. In choosing to overcome my negative self. This week, I make a commitment to sing it again, more often.
It's about to rain for 3 days...I guess I will begin now trying to find God's blessing in it, for my future's sake!!!
Lord, negativity consumes our joy. It's an instrument of Satan. Help us not go into our futures, killing our joy. In Christ's name, AMEN