We all suffer from unhelpful, negative beliefs but, some of us suffer more than is necessary. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make a life-changing decision and was faced with two choices: a bad choice which seemed like the attractive easy option and the best choice that looked tough to swallow. It might not be a life-altering situation in the sense of the heavens opening or life and death stuff – but you’d be amazed at how even the smallest choices that we make can have a knock on effect on the overall path we take.
In psychology, namely Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) there is an argument that your thoughts will dictate your footsteps. This ties in with Biblical truth, as Yeshua taught us the importance of our beliefs in co-creating our reality and then there is the favourite quote of Christian who favour CBT:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, ESV)
I have seen this truth in my own everyday experiences, the lies that we tell ourselves can easily become reality if and when we let them take root in our actions. So I’m really excited to start my Advanced practice Diploma in CBT shortly!The lies that we tell ourselves can easily become reality if we let them take root in our actions Click To Tweet
Beliefs are the result of thoughts which we allow to take root in our heart so that they become a part of us. I want to go back to that example of being at the crossroad of making an important decision. In Corner A we have the wrong choice that looks attractive and over in Corner B we’ve got the hard-looking right choice. What are some of the thoughts that go through our head in such a situation?
- Rationalising why you think Corner A should win the fight. You’ll start to make excuses and defend why you should take that option. You might say that “it’s not as bad as it looks”, “you can fix it/make amends etc at a later date”, “nobody will know, tell the difference etc.” and other blatant lies designed to ease your conscience.
- Turning inwards to your emotions – this happens when you focus on how choosing Option B might make you feel, the distress it would cause, fear, panic, discomfort etc and justify not going down that route to avoid such unpleasant experiences.
- Working harder – by trying to create an option C which is really an escape route. This option may include being extra good, kind, diligent in order to reduce the feelings of discomfort in case you decide to go down the ‘wrong’ path. Or you might decide to try a half-way point, which in all honesty, never seems to work – right?
So there you are faced with a conundrum of which choice to make, all because of a selection of thoughts which are going round and round your head. Which thoughts win out will ultimately determine which option you choose and we have all been guilty of making the wrong choices.
The Origin of Negative Thoughts
Where do these negative thoughts come from? Psychologists don’t have much to say on the origin of these thoughts, they just seem to pop into your head “POP” and you own them for yourself. But, the Bible tells us that these thoughts are not actually our own thoughts but are either 1) the lies of the enemy spoken to us at that present time or 2) internalised experiences and their associated emotions which resurface from our psyche. An example of number two could be words that have been spoken directly to us or in our hearing that make us feel anxious, threatened or afraid about taking a particular course of action. I’ve written a number of posts on the importance of words which you might want to check out here, as our words show what is on the inside of us.
So back to what I was saying, those words or thoughts come straight from the Deceiver (did you know that in Hebrew, Satan actually means Deceiver?) John 8:44 tells us that HaSatan (literally The Deceiver) is the Father of all Lies, I have come to realise that whenever Satan talks he is lying. But how can you tell if it’s a lie of the enemy or if it’s truth? One way that I have found to work well is the fear factor, if the thought is accompanied by fear or anxiety, if it causes unrest within my spirit then generally it is a lie designed to bring out those very emotions. Generally when I look the fear straight in the eye, the fear is replaced by a supernatural calm which strengthens me by Grace to take the action that I would otherwise flee from.Ungodly fear is conquored when we understand that it is not from God & look it in the eyes. Click To Tweet
How to overcome Negative Beliefs and create a healthier reality
If we want to target negative beliefs we have to focus on those thoughts which create and strengthen those beliefs. In my book Heal your Life, I talk about how your thoughts are the gateway between your heart/soul and reality and the importance of guarding our hearts. That is the role of our thoughts. One of the things which has helped me tremendously in relation to stopping negative thoughts is ‘thought stopping’. It’s the process of catching negative thoughts and putting a stop to them. At first glance it sounds if not ridiculous then down right difficult, how can one catch their thoughts and stop them? Well, the truth is that you probably thought stop without realising you do it they key is to become aware of your thoughts and put them through a ‘thought filter’. Here’s what the Bible says about thought filtering:
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)
The Word of God is a fantastic filter which has helped me tremendously the more I have focused on it’s truth and I feel sure you must have a similar experience. The basic way of using YHWH’s Word as a filter is to check the voice and the words we are receiving to God’s Word and as the scripture says take it captive – lock it away. But how do we do this practically? Here are a few examples from my life:
- While I was at university I had an ‘episode’, at the time I was taking antidepressants and wasn’t in such a great state. One night as I was alone in hubby’s room, I heard a voice saying things that were definitely not my own thoughts. I was so scared my only recourse was to pray. You may not realise it but prayer is a way of stopping negative thoughts because we focus on God and His power over our current perceived reality. I am happy to say that was the last time I heard such ‘thoughts’.
- Sometimes repetitive thoughts will pop up into my head, generally when I’ve been exposed to something I shouldn’t have. These thoughts can be real tough to stop and prayer isn’t quite enough to shift them, in such cases I sing hymns and praise and worship songs. The idea here is that the mind can only focus on one thing at a time, by forcing my attention onto something of God I trick my mind into letting go of that thought and soon I can’t even remember what I was thinking about in the first place.
- I used to suffer a lot with fear and anxiety, I used to think that demons were continuously watching me preparing all kinds of manner of doom and gloom for me. It was so bad that I used to pre-empt bad things happening to those around me that I love and imagine the scenario in my head – you can probably imagine the misery. I was overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. I bought a meditation CD filled with scriptures on fear, worry and anxiety – I played the CD everyday sometimes several times a day and over time the scriptures became embedded in my brain. Before I knew it, I was using these scriptures and others to counter the lies of the enemy and the grip of fear in my life.
If there was one thing that I would want to share with you before I round up today it’s the importance of developing awareness of your thoughts and beliefs. In order to successfully thought stop and use God’s Word as a filter, we need to get to the place where we are consciously aware of the stream of thoughts which go through our head instead of passively reacting to them. I think ultimately this will impact our ability to turn negative beliefs into healthy, functional ones which are in line with the Word of YHWH.
Take Action: spend five minutes noticing the flow of your thoughts, are there any repetitive thought patterns? These are the ones you need to pay most attention to as the chances are they are active in affecting your everyday decisions and strengthening core beliefs.
I would love to hear from you – do you have any thought stopping or thought filtering techniques which have worked for you?