9 Dangerous and Negative Thought Patterns, And What To Do Instead, for Parents With Kids Misusing Drugs or Alcohol, With Brenda Zane

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
9 Dangerous and Negative Thought Patterns, And What To Do Instead, for Parents With Kids Misusing Drugs or Alcohol, With Brenda Zane

Oh, the places we go in our minds and thoughts when we have a child struggling with substances and mental health. I’ve been there and know many parents struggle with not letting their thoughts paralyze them in the day-to-day ups and downs they experience.

In this episode I cover nine of the most common unhelpful and unhealthy thinking patterns parents fall into and talk about ways to shift those to a more productive place. If you tend to catastrophize, judge, doubt, criticize or ruminate about your life or your child’s life, this is your episode. You’ll walk away being more aware of how to recognize these unhealthy patterns and learn ways to change your thinking.


This podcast is part of a nonprofit called Hopestream Community
Learn about The Stream, our private online community for moms
Learn about The Woods, our private online community for dads
Find us on Instagram: @hopestreamcommunity
Download a free e-book, Worried Sick: A Compassionate Guide For Parents When Your Teen or Young Adult Child Misuses Drugs and Alcohol

Hopestream Community is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and an Amazon Associate. We may make a small commission if you purchase from our links.

Brenda Zane 
I’m so happy to be here today. There’s so much going on that I would love to just tell you about for a few minutes. And then we’re going to talk about something that I love, which is thinking about our thinking. But hold a moment for that fun. That’s coming. And let me just tell you that I know the mamas out there are tired. 
And you need a break and you need some fun because. We opened registration for the stream community’s second ever in-person retreat and it was sold out, gone in less than 48 hours. It was a little surprising because it takes some effort and coordination to commit to being away from home. If you’re the mom of a kiddo who is. 
You know, potentially in a state of struggle. Or is it a high-risk lifestyle? So this just tells me that we all need a break and I only wish. That we didn’t have to wait until October to get together. We do so we will make it through that. But the good news is that we. Also secured a second house. So we’re going to be able to accommodate a few more moms that we have on the wait list and even potentially some that joined between now and when this incredible event happens in October. 
So that is all very exciting. And I can’t wait to see everyone live. And in person again, below the shoulders, you know, we have this weird zoom relationship in the community. Uh, and with most people in our lives, I guess even now. And when you finally meet somebody that you’ve known on zoom for so long, it’s kind of surreal because you realize, oh, they have a body below their shoulders. So that is kind of what’s going on in the community. 
Also, I want to be sure that you have tapped into two very important episodes of hopestream. Numbers 83 and 86. They are about a medical technology that is getting people off of opioids and other substances. But we’re going to talk about opioids right now. With no withdrawal symptoms, no cravings. In between five and seven days. Not weeks, not months, not years. Days. And this is using a device that was created back in the seventies by female surgeon, which I love. 
A female surgeon. In Scotland. And this story is kind of incredible and involves people like Eric Clapton and Boy George, there’s a documentary involved. It is incredible, but I won’t go into it because you can just listen to the episodes. That’s why I created them, but what I wanted to highlight here is that this device called NET. 
Is undergoing FDA clinical trials right now. And by right now, I mean March of 2022. And the program that is administering the trial is called Isaiah house. It’s in Kentucky, in the United States. And it is accepting people to come and participate in this clinical trial. So I wanted to make sure I mention that because if you have a son or daughter or a cousin or brother or sister or a parent who is struggling with substance use, 
And specifically with opioids, this would be something to look into NET is non-invasive and it’s medication free. So this is not M.A.T (medication assisted treatment). This is a device that an individual wears. And it’s neurostimulation and they control it themselves for anywhere from five to seven days. 
Again, So incredible listen to those two episodes because you will get the backstory. On how this has actually been used. Since the seventies. So this is not a fly-by-night type thing. But you’ll want to get all the details. If you’re interested in the trial, I’m going to give you a phone number. 
It’s also going to be in the show notes. So if you’re driving police, please, please do not try to write this down. You can just go to the show notes there@brendazane.com forward slash podcast. And then look for episode 1 0 6. Here is the phone number, though. If you are not driving and you can write it down. 
8 5 9 3 7 5 9 2 0 0. And again, this is in the United States. So if you’re listening from outside the U S. I think you’re going to want to put a 0 1 1, and then plus 1 8, 5, 9. They will answer all the questions that you have and they answer phone calls twenty four seven. So. Why am I mentioning this right now? I am talking about it because I have learned in the last few weeks that two moms have gotten their kids into this program and onto the net device, as a result of listening to the episodes again, number 83 and 86. 
And I even have the immense honor and pleasure of having one of those two people on the podcast in the coming months to tell her. Incredible story. With her mother. So keep your eyes open and your ears open for that. It is editing right now. I also figured it was worth mentioning more overtly because if even one life has been changed through this podcast and through the work that Isaiah house is doing. 
Where the, this FDA clinical trial is taking place, it would just be phenomenal. That knowing that already two of our listeners have had this experience is. Kind of mind-boggling to me. So if you want information on this trial, which right now is focused on opioid addiction. Give them a call again, the number’s eight five nine three seven five nine two zero zero. They will give you all the information that you need. 
Well, let’s get into what I wanted to talk about today, which is what I like to refer to as thinking about your thinking. It’s also mindfulness, but sometimes I think that word can throw people off. Might feel a little weird. So I just like to boil it down to what it is. A few years back. If you’d asked me if I had a mindfulness practice, I probably would’ve looked confused and asked what that was. 
Yet I was actually being mindful because I had started to really examine the ways I was thinking about things. So officially I did have a mindfulness practice. I just didn’t know about it. This is important because when life is difficult, And when isn’t it. We have to find ways to cope and move through the days and try not to be miserable. 
Because if you’re at it for very long, which I know some of you have been at this with your son or daughter for a very long time. And some for just a very short time. But either way. It just really, isn’t a viable option to be sad and angry and scared all the time. It is definitely not healthy. And it’s not a way to live. The one precious life that you have in front of you.
So it helps to first acknowledge that you want to get into a happier state of mind. And that you yourself are responsible for making that happen. No amount of therapy or book reading or yoga or anything else alone. Can get you to a better place until you acknowledge it and decide that you’re going to do something about it. 
And that might sound overly simplistic. But it is true, even if you’re navigating your own trauma, which I know many of you are. Even if you have some substance use stuff of your own that you’re working on. Even if you’re a single parent or you have no money or any of the other hundreds of hurdles that I know. No you’re facing. Even if you have those things, you still have to decide at the root level that you can change yourself. 
It. We’ll take work and it will be uncomfortable. It may. Uh, get a little gnarly and ugly at times. But it is. Yeah. Your job because no one else can do this for you. Again, there are incredible people who. Who can help you along the way and make the process easier and more effective. But until you have had enough. 
And decide to take. Take it on and take some action. Things will remain the same. So when you’ve reached that point and you’ve decided you want to improve your quality of life. Even though your son or daughter may still be in crisis or they may be in a program right now. And you have a little bit of breathing space. 
Space. Or they may be well into recovery when you decide to make change in yourself. The first place I believe that you need to start is with your own thoughts. 
Because if your own thoughts are negative or defeatist, other changes you make are just going to be surface. This level, it will be. Uh, theater of change, not actual change. And there are some negative thought patterns that I want to address today that we often default to as parents who have a child who’s struggling with substance use and mental health issues. 
These aren’t all of them, but they’re the most common ones. And so I want to go through each one and talk about how we can shift them into a more balanced place. I’ll also say that as you hear these, think about how your son or daughter might also be having the same kinds of thoughts about themselves. 
And about their life. It’s interesting to see, and it makes it even more clear. Why, when someone is misusing drugs and alcohol, it’s an entire family issue. 
 The first thinking habit to observe in yourself is the mental filter you’re applying. I also like to call this the sieve. It’s when you take in all this happening and you filter it through the sieve in your mind and what’s left behind is all the bad stuff. The junk that just sits there and it gets rotten. 
Instincts and it starts to make you sick. Any positives that are going on pass right through this filter. And you may not even realize it. So check that filter check what’s going through and what’s staying behind. 
See what’s there. And if it’s only the icky stuff, try to spend more time with a gratitude practice. Or just intentionally recognizing positive things during your day. You can ask yourself, do I have these doom and gloom classes on today? And what would be a more realistic thought right now? So try to prevent sifting out all of the positive and only letting the negative stay there. 
And instead, maybe see if you can do the opposite. 
The next unhelpful thinking habit is when you play the mind reader or the psychic. You assume that you already know what she did. You already know what he’s going to say, who they were with last night and what’s going to happen today. Can you tell I’ve been there. You make assumptions that you don’t have hard evidence for, instead of looking at the whole picture and doing some investigating with open-ended questions. And a mindset of curiosity. My dream is really dangerous and it’s also presumptuous. And I know this thing may have happened 10 times before. So you feel pretty confident in your assumption. 
But a good practice is to approach people and situations with an open enough mind. The, you can see what’s really going on. Ask yourself. Do I have evidence that this is true? True. Or likely to happen. Am I predicting the future based on fear and emotion rather than facts. Is there a more balanced or informed way that I could look at this? 
The next is what I call compare and despair. Comparison can often lead to despair. We see other people’s kids, our nieces and nephews, and the kid down the street, or someone in our community. And we hold our son or daughter in their current state up against this seemingly perfect person. 
When we compare where our kids are next to these. Quote unquote perfect or successful young people. It’s disheartening. It’s discouraging to the point where we feel despair that ours will never change or be okay. This mindset is draining and damaging. To us and also to our kids because they see us doing this. Even if we think we’re hiding it really well. 
 If you are caught in this cycle of compare and despair. Try listening to recovery episodes of hope stream or other podcasts. You can hear incredible stories from some of my guests on episode 90. 
76 and 48. I will link to those in the show notes again. So you don’t have to write those down. 90 76 and 48. But it is super important to remember that people do recover and they go on to do amazing, amazing things. My own story. Our family’s story is one that should encourage you. So don’t hand over your happiness by comparing your current chapter to someone else’s. 
 Let’s talk about gremlins. We all have that inner gremlin who tells us really negative and ugly things about ourselves. It’s a little weird because you end up having this dialogue in your own head with somebody who’s treating you really badly. Yet. We often listen to the gremlin. Gremlins are destructive and usually come from past experience where we’ve failed or just failed to see the growth from the times when we’ve tried something and it didn’t work out. 
Gremlins can also come from childhood experiences and they can be. Very deeply ingrained in us as adults. I was coaching a young man once who was an incredible athlete. He competed in iron man events and he did Spartan races and tough Mudder. He was truly gifted as an athlete and also a very successful businessman as well. 
But his inner gremlin told him that he sucked at everything and that, unless he competed in all of these things and had to metal at the same time that he was useless and he was wasting his life. His gremlin came. I learned from having an alcoholic father. Who he was always trying to please and pacify in order to avoid the chaos and abuse that would come along with his father drinking. 
His father was always telling him that he was useless. And he expected him to accomplish things that were just unrealistic. 
We had to do a lot of work in helping him silence his inner gremlin so that he could just have some peace of mind. If you are listening to your gremlin, I would recommend spending some time looking for the evidence. That, what it’s telling you is actually true, or that it’s true. Most of the time. You probably won’t be able to find this evidence. 
Also try to figure out where that gremlin came from. It’ll probably be from your younger years. And there’s a great book. I would recommend on this called taming, your gremlin by Rick Carson. I’ll put a link in the show notes to that as well. And also a little worksheet that I use when I am coaching clients that I think will be really helpful if it’s something that you struggle with. 
 Hello. I just want to take a minute to let you know that if you’re a mom listening and you’re having a hard time right now with the impact from your child’s substance use. There’s a place I created specifically for you. It’s called the stream. It’s a membership-based online community. It’s completely private away from all social media sites where you can start to take care of yourself because through all of this who is taking care of you. 
That’s what we do. In the community, we teach craft skills to help you have better conversations and relationships. And we also help you get as physically, mentally, and spiritually. Healthy as possible so that you can be even stronger for your son or daughter. There is a two week free trial. So you can see if it’s the right kind of support for you. And you can learn more about all of the member benefits at www.thestreamcommunity.com. I hope to see you there. And now let’s get back to the show. 
The next unhelpful thinking habit is putting pressure on yourself with should and must. We have a sane in the stream of don’t should yourself to death. When you have a child who is misusing drugs and alcohol, you may get a lot of advice and input from other people. About what you should do or what you must do. 
And for the most part, I believe people really do mean well and they truly want to help. What they might not know though, is that they could be heaping more guilt and burden on you. You that you really don’t need. You’re probably already telling yourself that you should do this, or you shouldn’t. I have done that. 
Or you must do these three things, but it’s probably the result of someone else’s expectations. Have you something external that’s driving you to do or not to do something? And it’s likely that you’re putting a ton of pressure on yourself, setting expectations that are not realistic for the situation that you’re in. 
 I’ve talked in the past about listening to your gut. And this is an area where if you’re healthy and in tune with yourself, you can bump the, should. Up against what your gut is telling you and see which one feels right. You can also go through what I call the why is that exercise where you ask yourself why you’re thinking you should or shouldn’t do something and keep asking that question until you come to the real answer. 
It often ends up with something like. Well, because that’s what I hear other people do. Or my mother-in-law thinks I should do that or something similar. So give yourself some grace, if you’re feeling like a slave to the shoulds and the musts. And just know that the things you decide to do or not to do right now. 
Don’t have to be forever. Things will change and you can always adapt. 
Another thinking pattern we can get into is making judgements about people. We put on the black robe. Grab a gavel and we start to judge the situation or our child. This is often combined with black and white thinking it’s either right or wrong. It’s yes or no. It’s this action or this consequence, and this is a slippery slope to get onto when it comes to judgments. Not just because we’re probably working with a limited set of information. 
But also, because if we’re judging someone, they’re likely to throw it right back at us and we may not have the squeakiest clean record either. It’s important to remember our role isn’t to pass judgment on what our kids are doing. It’s to motivate them to make healthier changes in their lives 
it’s to be a model for them of how we would like to see them get better. Passing judgment and being inflexible with black and white thinking, probably isn’t what you want from your child. So try to avoid doing it to them. Instead, you can invest that time that you would be thinking and acting in this unhelpful pattern. 
Into learning and reading and doing what you’re doing now. Focusing on modeling what you want to see in them. 
The next unhelpful thinking pattern is emotional reasoning. Your feelings are just a reaction to your thoughts. Your thoughts are under your control. If you’re intentional. About harnessing them and not letting them control you. Letting your emotions drive, the bus will take you to some dark and scary places. 
So even though something feels bad. You have the option to control those thoughts and to be more rational about how you feel. Let me just say that this is a skill in particular that takes mastering. And you will have to work at it when you start. 
When your child is doing unhealthy things, running away, refusing help or school. Putting stuff in their body that can kill them. It’s hard to not let your emotions drive your thoughts. It’s natural to be scared and frustrated, angry, all the things, but where’s that getting you? It got me horribly sick. 
It got me fired from a job. It got me distracted from my family. So eventually I said, Nope. I got to change this. Again, I know this isn’t easy, but trust me. It’s worth the work to stop being yanked around by every emotion that comes your direction. That is an exhausting way to live. If you’re working on emotional regulation, I would think about exploring meditation. 
More mindfulness, looking into radical acceptance, CBT. These are all ways that you can start to harness your thoughts and gain some stability. There are links again in the show notes to all of these concepts and practices. So you can find those there. 
Let’s talk about catastrophizing and making mountains out of molehills. I’ve been there. I know you have been there. It’s two in the morning. You woke up with your heart racing. Your chest is pounding. You can’t even contemplate going back to sleep. Because you’re playing out in your mind the next eight years, and what’s going to happen where your son or daughter’s going to be an often, that’s not a great place. And you feel like you are a rubber band about to snap. 
I truly think Hollywood could make a movie with everything that you can create in your mind. And unless you’re an executive producer in LA, that’s probably not really helpful. Take a look at where you might be exaggerating the negatives, the risks, the outcomes. Are you thinking the absolute worst is going to happen? 
Are you seeing something and then turning it into something way more than it actually is, or that it likely will be? This is tricky. When you have been burned before, when you’ve seen the bad things happen, it’s hard not to automatically go there in your mind. Again, how helpful is that? So take a step back, ask yourself, would my friends see things this way. Am I writing a movie? I always like to ask, what is the best-case scenario? What is the worst-case scenario? And then what is most likely to happen this way? You usually end up somewhere in the middle of the pendulum and not at an extreme either way. 
Finally the last unhelpful thinking habit that I wanted to talk about today is getting trapped by memories. Memories can hold us hostage when we’ve been through traumatic and dramatic situations with our kids. And they’re not all bad. It’s good. Sometimes to remember things so that we can learn from them. 
But if your memories are holding you back, if you’re ruminating on them and you just can’t move past them. It’s time to do some work. Memories can make you feel sick to your stomach. They can actually physically make you feel sick. They can make you feel sad, depressed, anxious. And yet there are things in your mind that aren’t actually happening right now. They’re done. They’re gone. 
And yes, you were thinking it might happen again. And it might. But it might not, and this is the cycle that you might be living in and it might be making you crazy. If you’re unable to rationalize your way out of memories, you may want to consider talking to a counselor or a therapist about it. I had a few extremely upsetting memories that I couldn’t get past. 
I would cry and get anxious every time I would allow myself to go there. So I worked with a therapist and did EMDR. 
That really helped me reprocess those specific memories to where they don’t hold a grip on me anymore. It’s an incredible therapeutic technique and it can really help if you’ve had experiences that are sticking with you and you can’t get past them. I will also put links in the show notes to some resources for EMDR therapy. But you could check with either your existing therapist or just search locally for a therapist who does that? 
Okay. As usual. It’s a lot. I know I tend to do this in solo episodes because there’s just so much I want to share with you. I’m guessing one or two of these things might have stood out to you, like, yep. That’s mine. And it’s so good. If you can allow yourself to take some time. And truly examine your patterns and your way of thinking, thinking about your thinking. 
Because then you can make that decision to change the. The way your mind works. Which then changes how you. Show up. It changes your presence. And your way of being, and that will very likely make an impact on the other people in your life. And show them that you are in control even when life around you might not be. 
 Okay, quick summary of these negative unhelpful thinking habits. And as you listen to see if there’s one that stands out to you that you fall into. 
Number one is the mental filter that sifts out all the good and only leaves the yucky stuff in your head. 
Number two is mind reading and being the psychic. assuming that, you know, things that you don’t and lacking evidence for those things. 
Number three, the compare and despair. 
Number four, listening to your inner gremlin. 
Number five shooting. Yourself to that. 
Number six, becoming the judge and thinking in black and white. 
Number seven is emotional reasoning, letting your emotions control your thoughts instead of the other way around. 
Number eight catastrophizing and making mountains out of molehills. Don’t write a screenplay in your head about what might happen. 
And last being held captive by memories. 
Remember all of the resources I mentioned here are in the show notes. So you can always find those at brendazane.com/podcast. And then look for episode 106. I truly appreciate your listening. I appreciate the fact that you share this podcast. You never know when you share it, how it’s going to change someone’s life. 
If you want to learn more, if this is intrigued you, if this is maybe something you’re new to, you can download a free ebook that I wrote. It’s called hindsight three things. I wish I knew when my son was misusing drugs. It’s full of the exact information I needed, but I didn’t have, when I was going through this. 
So with the beautiful hindsight that I now have with my son, I created that for you and you can get it at brendazane.com/hindsight. 
Stay strong. Be really, really good to yourself today. You are doing the hard work. And I see you. And I will meet you right back here next week. 

, , ,

the parent’s gathering place

Join us after
the episodes

Hopestream Community is a private online destination where parents find resources, education and personal connections when their child struggles with substance misuse, addiction, and mental health challenges. We teach skills that help improve communication and rebuild broken relationships, while empowering you to motivate your child to adopt or maintain healthier choices.

Learn more and join us >