I want to share a story with you about a time when I was working to build a business to allow me to stay at home with you.This business took me far out of my comfort zone and stretched me in ways I didn’t really want to stretch. But you were worth it.
Large and looming fears took great liberty to whisper into my mind. An inner dialogue formed an inner critic, which sounded like this. What if I fail? What if people think I’m stupid? What if I’m wrong? I’ll never be able to do this well. I’m not cut out for this kind of work. I don’t have these skills. I can’t. What if.
These thoughts formed patterns and habits I failed to recognize initially. What was I focused on? Me. Who was I not focused on? God.
When fear speaks with confidence to us, it has an ability to shift our focus to ourselves when our focus needs to be on God. The chattering of fear silenced the words of God that would shift my focus from me to Him.
A habit doesn’t take long to form, but habits can be broken. Negative thinking patterns are habits that must be broken. We must learn to train our brain to think positively.
2 Cor 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
We take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.
Our thoughts don’t have to control us, and if we let them have their way, they will create patterns that will lead to poor health mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
We hear our inner voice more often than we hear anything else all day long. It accompanies us on everything we set out to do. Depending on its intent, it can be our biggest encourager or our biggest foe.
Brian S. Borgman, in Feelings and Faith, says “Martin Lloyd-Jones’s words on preaching to yourself are truly a classic. “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?…..You must take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, you have to preach to yourself, question yourself…then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done and what God has pledged Himself to do. (Lloyd Jones, Spiritual Depression 20-21)(Borgman, Feelings and Faith p 142)
This is the key. You teach your mind to focus on Who God is. When your mind wants to ponder your circumstances, you take that thought before it can lead you down the dusty familiar path. You turn it back to God. You tell that thought who is boss. It will not bully you any longer.
Here’s how you do this. You fill your mind with God’s scripture and you fill your mind with thanksgiving, praise, and positive thoughts. Truly, your life will change. Your health will improve in ways you’ve not imagined.
During the time I struggled with my fears creating negative thinking patterns, someone gave me self-talk tapes. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard of. And utterly boring.
I popped the tape in as I set about cleaning the dishes and doing laundry. Internally, I laughed and scoffed at the absurdity of what I listened to. I imagined that awkward, embarrassing moment someone would drop in for a surprise visit and discover me listening to these tapes. Nevertheless, the tapes played on.
A monotone, sleepy voice repeated, “You are strong and capable. You can do great things. You are strong and capable. You can do great things. You are strong and capable. You can do great things.”
You see, I didn’t stop what I was doing and listen to this tape. It simply played in the background. Our thoughts do the same thing. Often, our thoughts simply play in the background, and we are oblivious to what they are creating in our minds and souls.
The tape ended and I continued about my day. I couldn’t seem to purge the lines from that tape or that voice. Each time a fear based or negative thought entered my mind, I heard that monotone, sleepy voice telling me I was strong and capable and could do great things.
What if I didn’t imprint a sleepy voice telling me how great I was and instead sewed in God’s Word that tells me I’m not strong and capable, but He is, and that through Him, I can do all things because of His strength.
What if God’s Word playing on repeat was the very thing that would teach my brain to stop creating negative paths that led to fear and poor health and began to create brand new pathways to life and healing?
We can learn how to speak to ourselves in a way that tells fear to go to sleep. We need to train that inner voice to speak truth and life, not fear. We need to bathe ourselves with the words the Lord speaks!
Like those self-talk tapes that told me I was strong and capable, I needed to speak God’s Word over and over again into my daily rhythms. We don’t need to listen to self-talk tapes to tell us how great we are. We have God’s Word which tells us how great He is, therefore through His power, He can do great things through us.
Breaking through these fears is not a matter of believing in ourselves and believing we can do anything we set our minds to. That is what culture says. Instead, it’s believing in a mighty God who can move mountains. It’s believing in a God Who chooses the weak and humble, the poor and broken to work through so that all who see this work will give Him the glory. The glory is His. He uses our willingness to face our fears in order to take what we have to offer and use it for His purposes.
Negative thinking is typically rooted in our fears. When we think negative thoughts about other people, it is usually our own insecurities (fears) at play. When we can’t see how our current situation can ever be better, it’s often because fear is causing us to not trust God or focus on anything that we can’t see.
Research shows that we create neural pathways in our brains by the thoughts we think. These pathways become like deep grooves, train tracks. Each time we think these thoughts, the grooves get deeper. Sometimes we don’t realize how deeply ingrained our thoughts have become. How they have shaped the person we are and how we respond to life.
Most negative thinkers don’t even realize they are negative thinkers. It’s become normal.
I want you to be aware of your thought life because it directs everything. God is an amazing Creator and has designed a brain that can be remapped and retrained. Even if you tend towards negative thinking, you can retrain your brain to think positive thoughts and create new neural pathways.
The easiest way I know to do this is through God’s Word. Reciting and preaching it to yourself. Because that is truth. Preach truth, and you won’t believe the lies your mind will try to tell you.
Focus on Who God is, and you are less likely to focus on the difficult circumstances you walk through because you know the One holding your hand.
Question the thoughts in your mind. Call them to the challenge. When you find they are negative, replace them with a positive immediately. Focus on God, not you. Life is not about us. It’s about Him. Keep your mind off you and on Him, and you will be amazed how your thinking changes, and ultimately how your health strengthens.
Lamentations 3:22-27 The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,“Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him To the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth.