The essence of criminal thinking is the closed channel. Criminal thinkers are closed off from being receptive, are closed to any interest in being self-critical and also shut down from disclosing the truth about their destructive behavior. These three components of criminal thinking must be replaced with their natural corollaries, i.e. receptivity, self-criticism and self disclosure.
Receptivity is being open and responsive to ideas, impressions and suggestions. When a responsible person makes a suggestion about changing a bad habit or doing something that is positive, the recovering person must listen intently to what is being suggested. They should practice active listening skills which have deteriorated with their destructive thinking patterns. Active listening is listening to the message without interruption, clarifying the content of the message, restating what the person said to ensure you understand the message and being aware of your feelings and the sender’s feelings. Changing criminals and even addicts must realize that they do not have the solution to their problems and must rely on responsible others for guidance, correction, and advice.
Self-criticism is pointing out the faults in your own behavior and thinking. Criminal thinkers are skilled at pointing out the faults of others, but continually fail to see the harm in their own behavior. An excellent exercise to promote positive change is to look at the role you play in every negative situation that has happened during the week. What could you have done differently or thought differently to prevent the negative outcome. Even in situations where the criminal thinker is truly victimized, they should focus on the lifestyle of crime, drugs or victimization that has allowed them to be victimized themselves. There are always people who have experienced more harsh conditions and life problems than ours, and still made positive choices that didn’t involve drugs, crime or abusing others.
Self-disclosure is another area of extremes for the criminal thinker. Criminal thinkers relate minimal information about themselves and only do so when they can use that self-disclosure to take advantage of someone. They gather information about others but don’t talk about themselves. For true change to occur the changing criminal must begin to share their distorted thinking with people who can help correct their distortions and thinking tactics. They are wise to take the advice of the 4th Step of AA which suggests that addicts “take a searching and fearless moral inventory” but they cannot do this by themselves. Their distorted thinking will no doubt make the search superficial and less than fearful!
Access our free “Closed Channel Thinking” worksheet on CriminalThinking.net.