Whilst COVID dominates the headlines, it can be easy to forget that we’ve been in another pandemic for years now and the tragedy is, there is a vaccine, most just don’t believe that it is there. I’m talking about the war on your mind. Toxic thought patterns have been hurting people all over the world but it doesn’t need to be that way.
Negative thinking doesn’t mean you’re weak. Some of the most influential leaders you know, all face the same battles. Your pastor, your mentor, everyone.
The concepts I’ll talk about in this post are all drawn from my past and things I discovered with my own battle for my mental health.
Before we go anywhere I want to you know that this temporary and this isn’t a quick fix solution, this is a solution to equip you to become stronger than it. So I hope that this lends itself as something helpful to you and that equips you to go to war with your negative thinking.
What role does faith have to play in all of this?
At the height of my own battle with mental health I had nothing else left in me to fight. I was so scared of even going outside. I would suffer from anxiety attacks on a daily basis. I’d struggle to even function normally.
I was empty. I had nothing left, at all.
There’s something special that happens when you are completely empty – when you’ve got nothing left in the tank, there’s a desperation inside of you.
Desperation isn’t a nice place to be but there is one unique benefit. It positions you to receive the strength that you didn’t have on your own and to rest in the capable hands of God’s presence. Now what I’m not saying is that God only helps those who are desperate, I just think desperation highlights our need much more and it leads us to look for help and if we look to God with that intention, he is itching to intervene.
God will never force himself into your situation, but if you position yourself to lean on his strength, trust me, he will show up.
In my scenario, desperation lead me to scripture. Romans 12:2 has been life-changing for me.
The bit that I want to highlight, is the second half of that sentence, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
Everything you read from this point onwards, is rooted in this verse. God’s goal is not to get rid of your negative thinking, his goal is to renew your mind.
The way I read this (and I am by no means a theologian) is that the renewing of your mind, means that your mind is less fixated on negative thought patterns and is more focused on becoming more like the mind that God desires for you.
We often assume that our thinking is solid and it can’t be changed, so when negative thoughts come along, we just have to ride the wave and hope that we can get through unharmed. This isn’t how God sees you. This isn’t what he wants for you.
Your negative thoughts, your anxiety, your mental health problems, they’re not apart of you. What’s so dangerous about mental health, is that it convinces you that it is apart of you, it is who you are. It isn’t and it can be beaten.
The only power negative thinking has over you is that it convinces you that it is apart of you who you are. Once you switch that up, everything changes.
Practical strategies to win your battle
My own desperation lead me to book by Louie Giglio. It’s called “The Comeback“. I won’t spoil the book for you, I’ll just summarise; Louie talks early on about his own battle for his mind. Louie’s desperation lead him to the Bible. Every time he got anxious he repeated these scriptures over himself. That’s how he won.
Wait, what? That’s all he did? Yep. Simple, but so much is going on underneath the surface when you do this. There is science behind this methodology. Your brain and the way that you react when you think and feel certain things has natural pathways that it triggers when emotions and thoughts come to the surface. So your negative thinking has a pathway, and that will trigger your response, for me, that was an anxiety attack. When you tell your brain to react in a different way to what it wants to, you are creating a new pathway, a new way to respond.
So the more and more you do this, the stronger you become. Here’s the difference when you bring God into the equation. Not only do you get stronger, God uses your battle to grow you into a person that is capable of achieving incredible things when you journey with him.
Fix your thinking. Change your life.
So here’s how you do it, I want you to form a prayer using scripture that you go to every time your negative thinking tries to convince you that it has a hold over you.
Here’s some examples, declare these over yourself:
For when you’re anxious: Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2
For when you want to give up: 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. 2 Corinthians 10 verse 5
For when you are scared: For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
For when you need a reminder: Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:8