Grievances

…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,                                                                                II Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV)

One of the things that I sometimes discuss with my clients is the idea of a “grievance narrative”. I borrow this term from Dr. Fred Luskin who wrote the book Forgive for Good. I think we all fall into this kind of narrative to some extent, but chronically doing this leads to a victim mentality. A quick little example-

You wake up and you stumble into the bathroom half awake; then you bump your toe against the tub. A few minutes later, you drop the soap in the shower, and then upon getting out of the shower, you find that there is no towel handy. You say to yourself, “Wow, this is going to be one of those days!”

Pretty simple and innocuous stuff, but you have given yourself permission to say that this is going to be a bad day. You start to look for things that might go wrong, or that you perceive to go wrong, and you begin to build a little grievance narrative. That is thinking like, “this is just another example of how bad my day is”, or “I have been wronged by the universe”.  

On a more serious scale, some people fall into this thinking on larger issues, and begin to build a case for entitlement to a bad mood or negative outlook. If this thinking is not internally challenged, we can go down the slippery slide of victimhood, anger, and entitlement to lash out at others (or sometimes ourselves). We need to pause, take our thoughts captive and ask, “Is this just my negative thinking at work here? “Are things really as bad as I am telling myself?

Indeed, there are many ways that we can pause and challenge our thinking process. Usually, we can break that negative slide and bring more rational thinking into play. At the very least, we have put a stop to the beginnings of a victim mindset.

This process of “stacking” bad news can happen very subtly, but it can cause problems. We need to learn to take each event that happens on its own, and not build it into a grievance narrative of bad prospects.  

It also helps to look at ourselves with a sense of humor. Nothing like laughing at ourself to bring us back to reality!

Prayer: Lord, give us the nudges to examine our attitudes, Amen

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