Last week I was too busy chatting with the cashier at the grocery store to realize I did not put my roast up on the counter. I got out to my car, started unloading my groceries, and realized it was hidden under my unused recycling bags. UGH! It was after work, so I was really tired, in my 4-inch heels (again!), and it was raining! I have to ashamedly admit, my first thought that went through my head was…. “No one will ever know!” AAAHH I can’t believe I’m admitting that to you. But it’s the truth.
I did unload the rest of my groceries and return back into the store, got in line, and told the cashier what had happened. He seemed taken aback that I actually came back in to pay for it. That’s another blog in itself.
On the way home, I started thinking about thoughts. Mostly my initial thought that bothered me. One of my morals that I value the most is honesty and integrity. I am a true believer in character being what you do when no one is looking. Why in the world did that come into my thinking? Then I gently reminded myself what I remind my clients so often…
I am regularly asked about thoughts. “Can we control them? Am I horrible that I initially had this thought? I can’t believe that actually went through my mind!” These are phrases/questions I hear all the time. I know some people in our field and in Christianity believe we can control our thoughts. It is my opinion that we cannot control our initial thought. If we could, why in the world would we actually think some of the things we do? We would choose that? I don’t think so. Where our responsibility begins is what we actually do with that thought. Do we continue thinking about it and what I call “marinate in it”? Do we let it go down a road that isn’t constructive, for us, our marriage, our relationship with God? Do we act upon it? This is what we can actually control. This is important to get because it can take away unneeded shame (the initial thought) but empower us (with what we do after). After the initial thought, you can stop the thought processes immediately and do/think something different.
I was glad I was able to remind myself of this. I didn’t have to spend my ride home beating myself up over my initial thought. Instead I spent it wondering why the cashier was surprised! What is the world coming to?? I’m gonna compromise my morals over $8.63? And then go home and actually enjoy the pot roast when I know I stole it?? I don’t think so!
Thank you so much for reading this week. Remember, it’s not the initial thought, it’s what you do with it! Have a great day!
*Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling. We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville.