Written by: Robert R. Cassman, LPCC
Negative thinking gets us all into trouble. So why do we do it? Why do we continue to think negatively?
Imagine you are a fish and you come across something appealing. You swim toward it as you look forward to eating it. As soon as you bite down you realize the mistake you’ve made. You’ve bitten into a lure. The bait you have fallen for has a hook behind it. Once you are “hooked” by the fisherman you are in trouble. The fisherman can reel you in.
Just like the fish, we don’t intend to get ourselves into trouble. We see something in the world we like and either don’t recognize it as bait or we think we can get around the bait. These situations reveal our “triggers.” Bait is the way we fall into traps.
Pretend you haven’t had a drink in a year and are feeling fairly confident with yourself. Your best friend calls you and asks if you want to go out and party. You go and before you know it you’ve relapsed. To avoid the relapse we need to recognize the bait or trigger for what it is: a trap. The bait always has a hook behind it. We have control over not taking the bait. But as soon as we take the bait and are hooked, we lose all control. This can happen with alcohol, drugs, or other people. Other people can bait us into arguments and before we know it we are hooked. This sort of “bait and hook” happens a lot on social media. Recognizing that someone’s post may be bait will help us all to not get hooked. We think “I can change his mind” and subsequently fall for the bait. This can also happen with “great sales deals.” We see a sign that reads “50% off today only” and think we can save money. We go to the store to “save money” but end up spending more than if we had simply stayed home! The “sale” is the bait and hook. Not all of us have the same “bait.” My friend may be baited for the sale while I may not. We need to recognize our own baits and not fall for them. We can remind ourselves through our thinking that there is a hook behind the bait.
Remember that if something looks like bait, it probably has a hook behind it! We only have control over what we do before we fall for the bait. Know what your “bait” is and swim away!