The most frequently asked question from newcomers at THE KEYS is, “Am I crazy?”

This question connects to a long-standing myth that counseling is only for “crazies”. I am delighted to dispel that myth.

Let’s look at some mental health tips for everyone, not just those who may be wondering if they are crazy.

We believe that healthy people come to counseling to become healthier. Most often, it is our thought patterns that are unhealthy. Psychologists call this “cognitive distortion” and some call it, “stinkin’thinkin.’” At The KEYS, we teach truths that replace common mental traps. Truths—in exchange for traps. It’s a deal!

1. All or None Thinking – is a way of seeing a person or an event as all bad or all good. This black or white perception leads us to judge others and ourselves harshly. The voice inside says, “Just give up; you’ve already blown it.” Instead of all or none, begin to realize that life is full of incremental changes and choices that potentially bring better lifestyle. Introduce truth to replace the fallacy. Pure truth comes from God. Instead of, “Just give up…” you speak truth to yourself, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” We learn to coach ourselves, in effect. We tell ourselves the truth moment by moment, if we choose to live fully.

2. Mental Filters – Like a pair of dark shades, this attitude casts darkness over all your thoughts. Think of this filter as self-defeat bleeding into your thought processes. With negative filters, you habitually ignore positive feedback to accept the negative. An example is a class reunion where many of your former classmates say compliments such as, “You are looking good!” But what you remember and play over and over again like a broken record is the comment of one who said, “You were always so skinny. What happened?”

3. Jumping to Judge – From observing the “outsides” of another, you make a judgment about their “insides”. For example, you decide that your spouse’s contorted facial expression is due to his/her anger toward you, when in fact the poor spouse is having physical discomfort. Our observations must stop at that, without becoming fortune-telling or mind reading.

4. Irrational Thinking – The result of allowing emotions to dominate our decisions is irrational thought. A very intelligent and well educated man, for example, decides that he is second- rate because he feels guilt about the past. Believers in Jesus Christ can know that He died for their sins, and yet have the mistaken idea that He forgave all but one. Irrational thoughts make smart people look stupid, because their temporary feelings direct them to more permanent actions or mindsets.

5. The Shoulds – “I should be less sensitive.” “I should look like Barbie.” “I should be more spiritual.” The “Shoulds” most often come as we compare ourselves to someone else or to a cultural ideal. Scripture teaches us that to compare ourselves is not wise. Comparison calls for judgment.

The Truth – Each of us is an awesome original with distinct and deliberate design for God’s purposes.