What should a psychologist do when a client discloses an intention to harm himself or others? If these statements are just potentially criminal with no guarantee that they will be enacted – are they truly dangerous thoughts?
I hear thought crimes constantly, and witness the harm they cause. I hear them from employees, clients, friends, family, vendors – the list goes all the way to the grocery store checkout clerk who snaps at a customer fumbling for her “loyalty” card.
No, these thought crimes are not the revenge filled ravings of the insane. I’m talking about regular people like you and me. Most of us dj an unbroken record of self-dissing rap. It’s the cause of brain sprain, when we “forget” about projects even when – especially when – our contribution is critically needed. It’s the screaming soundtrack in our theater of the mind that unleashes an angry exchange with a co-worker or superior.
Your thought crimes are a big part of your personal brand. You can’t hide them. You do them. That’s why your personal brand isn’t “taking” or “building.” You’re pulling down your promotional posters as fast as you put them up.
I see thought crimes in action today from Loren, the young man who works for my company as a janitor. Loren clearly has the calm, congenial nature that should put him on the ladder to success, and off the real one he needs to change light bulbs. So, I pay him to take training on the simple software we use to schedule clients, and what does he do? He misses most of it, because he comes in a half-hour late. I tried him in shipping; he left the boxes open and unshipped.
He’s a fine young person who will probably spend the rest of his life vacuuming up the dust of our lives because his brain’s refrain is “I’m not good enough to do anything better than my parents.”
I know you commit similar thought crimes, because you are competent, talented, resourceful, special and filled with potential. Yet, you fail to enjoy everything you have to offer because you won’t stop listening to yourself.
What’s on your mind?
“I’m slow, clumsy, fat, stupid, and will never play for the Lakers,” (okay, that last one is probably true) or another litany of idiosyncratic self-insulting, diminishing, and mean spirited directions to yourself.
You think this self-denigrating, self-defeating garbage because it’s what you picked up from your folks, or what you fear others perceive about you. And your point is? Yawn.
Personal brands, here’s the harsh truth: your thought crimes are the only thing stopping you from figuring out how to have the life you crave – and truly deserve.
Encouraging thoughts don’t magically deliver the things you want; however, a positive talk track encourages your brain to figure out how to overcome real obstacles. Self-regard is the ONLY thing that transforms you from a loser to a winner.
I know there’s a real, wonderful you under the layers of misery you heap on yourself.
I know because I can see it. The way that kid in the movie could see dead people. I have the blessing and the curse of seeing the most positive, achievement oriented, spectacularly amazing you – even when I just see your photo. Even when I just think of you now while I am writing to you. Always when I meet you.
I also see the gunk you’re covered with.
Take a hot shower and wash it off. Circle around your most comfy chair three times and then sit down. Light a candle. All the while repeating, “I know exactly what I want and I’m excited to make it happen for myself.”