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What's On Your Mind

By Latoya Hammond

Have you ever allowed negative thoughts to set the stage for how you handled certain moments in your day? Then girl, I GOTT U!

A few months ago I endured one of the most anxious times in my life. It was about my youngest son's behavior in school. You see, he is what I like to say a uniquely wired kid who was diagnosed with ADHD over two years ago and he has been on medication. One day before school he shared with me that he no longer wanted to take his medication because it hurt when he swallowed. Now, let me say this is not about being a proponent or opponent of medication for kids with ADHD, I believe, each child and family unit is unique and we must all do what works best for our child for their overall success. Now, back to the story at hand. My son didn't want to swallow his medication and, despite my best efforts to assure him he'd be okay, nothing was working. I spoke with him about making sure he was swallowing with plenty of water and he was still convinced he was going to choke. I had to go to work and really had no time for a back and forth with a nine-year-old over swallowing. We made an agreement to allow him not to take his medicine for the next few days of the week and see how it would go. However, I said to him that if he chose not to take his medication he was going to need to be aware of his feelings, his thoughts and his responses throughout the day. I made sure to notify his teachers that this was the plan and that he might not be taking his medication for the next few days.

Going into this agreement, I didn’t give it any thought that it wasn’t going to be the best week of school for him. I honestly had high hopes for him! We had seen him mature in his behavior even when he was off the medication usually weekends. I soon found out that that was not going to be the case. While at work I began receiving emails from his teachers about his behavior. Instantly, I became anxious because I wasn't there. I felt this lack of control. In that moment, my thoughts ranged from your a bad mom; to what were you thinking; to embarrassed about his actions; to what must they think of me? They didn't understand him. What do they think of him? etc. There I was spiraling alone, allowing these thoughts to set the stage for my mindset in this moment. I knew I couldn't allow myself to continue down this road because it wasn't healthy and wasn't going to change anything, or make anything better.

I needed to do something and do it quick! I decided that I had to acknowledge the realness of how I was feeling; to allow myself to feel those feelings; to shift my thoughts to something more positive; and to change my surroundings. It always helps me to reach out to someone I trust to share my feelings and thoughts. I even decided to write myself a post-it at work that said: “DO NOT CHECK YOUR EMAIL.” It seemed like I was getting an email every minute about my son’s behavior throughout the day.

I began to feel a shift after doing these things. I began to feel a shift in my feelings and my mindset began to change. Now, this was not all at one time. This was an all-day process and an intentional one. I was faced with a chance and was faced with the choice, and I chose. But, what I chose, required some work on my part. Our thoughts which shape our mindset is important when faced with negative, real or perceived situations of anxiety, stress, or worry. Our thoughts shape how we see a situation and how we will move in that situation. They have the power to shift our perception and allow us to handle what we are facing.

What is your mindset in moments of stress, worry and anxiety? Where does your focus go? What thoughts do you allow to steer your perspective? Listen, let me be the first to admit my mindset is not always what it needs to be in stressful moments, or situations, or circumstances I was not expecting. There are times I allow my feelings and thoughts to run rampant or, at least, down a long road of madness and I end up feeling worse than how I started out.

Sometimes we can become so comfortable in doing what we have always known to do. Anxiety, stress, worry, and doubt are what we know. It’s been what you identify with; but I’m here to tell you, that is NOT who you are. If we are not careful in identifying these things every time an unlikely situation or problematic situation arises, it will ultimately cost us our peace of mind. When we lose our peace of mind, we are unable to have the right perspective on the situation at hand and respond in the best way for our own sanity.

Ladies, It all starts in our minds! Just like our words have power… so do your thoughts! We think it before we ever say it!!! Therefore, we must deal with these sometimes paralyzing thoughts before we end up speaking them. Once we speak it, we are now beginning to create the way in which we now see what’s before us.

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