Trickster Thoughts: A Sunday Afternoon

A large part of controlling Tricksters Thoughts is communication. Most Sunday afternoons this time of year, you can find me lying down, watching football and snoozing off and on. Yup, this is fun.

This is okay with my wife because she is the biggest basketball fan I know, and I am trying to add football to her viewing pleasure. She hasn’t quite grasped the nap aspect yet, but I am hoping it will rub off on her.

Next I will describe a scenario that many people have experienced, causing them confusion. Let’s say I am watching football and Beth is in the kitchen and she says, “Hey Bo, can you take the trash out?” I lovingly respond, “I would love to, Honey.”

Well, I don’t say it that way exactly, but I agree to do it. Later I hear the door close.

When I get up at halftime to graze, she looks a little cranky. I smooch her and ask her if she is going to come in and watch the game, but she is a little cold. I grab some food, look outside and go back to the game. What the heck happened? Why did she ask me to take the trash out when it was empty? Some things are just not adding up. She is usually in a great mood. I can speculate and think about it a lot and still not know what happened to her mood.

I am turning over this part of the column to my wife, so here is Beth to give her point of view.

Hi, I’m Beth. I’ll get right to the point. I asked Beau to take out the trash; it is full and smells. He said yes, but he didn’t do it. He always says he will do something and then doesn’t do it. Of course I get a little cranky when he disrespects me like that. Back to you Beau, explain your way out of this one!

Thanks for sharing. It is nice to know what you are thinking, so I know what we can work on. Here is my side of the story. I am enjoying the game, Beth asks me to take out the trash, I agree, thinking that I will do it at the halftime. I had every intention to do my chores, really, but, she beat me to it.

This type of interaction happens in many relationships. How do we fix it?

This is the cool part, either one of us can fix it.

Here is how I can change it. Beth asks me to take out the trash, I respond, “Sure, can I do it at halftime?” This gives her the opening to say, “It really stinks, how about at the next commercial?” Problem fixed from my end...if I take out the trash.

Here is how Beth can change it. “Hey Bo, can you take out the trash?” “Sure.” Beth then says “When?” I say, “At halftime.” “It really stinks, and it needs to go out soon!” “Okay I’m on it.” Problem solved...if I take out the trash.

And then birds will sing and babies stop crying; life is good. So here is how it works: When we have expectations, not knowing when or if the other person is going to do something, it opens the door for Tricksters to enter our thinking. Reads Minds Trickster says, “He is disrespecting me,” and Stereotyping Trickster says, “He always says he is going to do something and doesn’t do it.” Both Tricksters are wrong. I have zero intent on disrespecting her; and I actually do most things I say I am going to do, but once in a while I forget to do something. Saying a few extra words by either party will prevent Tricksters from creating problems with a person’s imagination.

These concepts can be used in a lot of ways, not just on Sunday afternoons or between males and females. Either person can gently take control of the situation and decrease Trickster Thoughts in another person. Everybody has Trickster Thoughts, but you don’t have to keep them. Using these techniques will reduce them in others...to your benefit.


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"Coyote Thoughts: Battling 'Abusive Tricksters'"

"Coyote Thoughts: Indian Mad or Trickster Mad?"

Dr. Beau Washington received his doctorate from the University of Northern Colorado. A member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Beau grew up at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, where his Father was a teacher. While researching depression, he also discovered the wide range of problems that rumination (dwelling) on problems creates in other mental problems as well. His active understanding of ruminative thought lead to developing a technique for effectively stopping the painful thoughts that plague distressed individuals. In addition, Beau developed cognitive models of depression and addiction. His therapy is being piloted in the Primary Care Clinic setting at the University of New Mexico Hospitals. Clinical trials are in the development phase to add Beau’s therapy to the short list of evidenced based therapies now used in therapy. Dr. John Gray at UNM calls his therapeutic approach innovative. Beau understands that part of the key to successful intervention is making psychology consumer friendly, for example, changing the term “cognitive distortion” to “Coyote Thoughts.” He has also developed a Native suicide prevention program called “Coyote Thoughts” ©2011. Beau has trained Native mental health clinics and presented at reservations as well as regional and national conferences. Visit his website coyotethoughts.com.