So much of what passes for thinking is mental activity, reactive and automatic. The higher the anxiety the more automatic and less thoughtful we become. It is hard to keep your head in the face of competing demands — often between good people with different concerns. Pleasing everyone is not an option and knowing what to do is unclear. What to do?

Kathleen Wiseman gives some ideas (from a lecture November 5, 1998).

This is the challenge:

  1. To know what is automatic in our own functioning.
  2. To know what is automatic in our family.
  3. To be as thoughtful as we can be as we steer a course for myself in spite of the pressure from the key relationships to give up self for the system.

Becoming thoughtful requires a bit of distance, sometimes physical, as leaving the room for a moment, breathing deeply, and slowing the inner clamor for resolution that roars in my head. The question is how quickly can I recover balance as I practice thoughtfulness.

I think of the example of Jesus in the wilderness tempted by Satan (which means the accuser). There, I suspect he faced the automatic thinking that goes with being human. His responses to the tempter are thoughtful and so on the mark that the evil one left him for a more opportune time.

We don’t get it right every time but we can shorten our recovery time.