Here's a handy acronym to remember: W.I.A.T.
It stands for Wrong Ideas Appearing True.
Every one of us carries around at least a few of them in our subconscious. They lodge down deep, below the level of our awareness. We may have acquired them long ago, which explains why we have a hard time recognizing mistaken thinking.
Yet these WIATs probably influence us more than we realize:
- They color our thinking and our moods
- They influence our behavior
- They govern the way we look at events and individuals
Some WIATs are silly and we know it
Yet even rational, intelligent people still may accept them as truth. Most of us know at least one person who believes something like this:
- Always leave a building through the same door you entered or it will bring bad luck
- Never say something is going well or you'll jinx it
- If you say you're happy it guarantees you soon will be unhappy
WIATs can be contagious
We spread them to our family and friends as easily as the flu virus.
I think of the young woman friend who "had" to remove every Kleenex pack, umbrella, etc., from her car before she'd leave it for maintenance. When I asked why, she answered, "Well, you know how mechanics are. They'll steal you blind every time."
When did she get that idea? Here's her answer: "Oh, everybody knows it's true. It happens all the time."
"Not to me," I said. "I've never had a problem, neither has anyone in our family."
That stopped her for a moment and then she said, "Well, it happened to my dad. After that he never left his car or truck at a garage or loaned it out without first emptying it out. He warned me to be careful and so I am."
Most of us can't identify the origins of our WIATs so easily.
Be on the alert for notions that don't stand up to logic
We do it all the time. Haven't you ever said something and then asked yourself, Now where did that come from?
Think how often we say something like this:
- I can't wear that color.
- I could never do that. I don't have the brain/talent/strength for such things.
- She would never want to be friends with me.
Sometimes we can trace our bogus thinking back to one of our parents and their thoughtless remarks.
That's not surprising, because children usually accept without question whatever our moms or dads say. Those words, true or false, can dog us for life.
Now's the time to clear out old wrong messages and replace them with truth. After all, aren't we wiser now?
Here's a place to start:
- Next time you put yourself down, stop and say out loud--or think--"That's not true!"
- Replace the faulty thinking. State what is true, based on what you know today and your own logic
- Repeat as often as needed
Yes, I know it sounds too simple, but it works. Just stick with it until you've banished old thinking that's wrong.
(I know it works because I have these conversations with myself all the time.)
Revamping our wrong notions, once and for all
If we realize we're stuck in old thinking that hurts us more than helps us, it's time to leave it behind.
Sometimes even Christians forget that whatever weighed us down in the past need burden us no more:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. --Psalm 46:1 (ESV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! --2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
In Christ, WIATs lose their power over us. (That doesn't mean we'll never have wrong thinking again.)
From now on let's hold all our ideas up to the light of faith and right thinking and what makes sense right now. Let's be free of old thinking!
Learning along with you,