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Posts tagged ‘changing stinkin’ thinkin’’

Why Do You Do What You Don’t Want To Do?

Source:  Rick Warren

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:32 (NIV)

Have you ever wondered why you do what you don’t want to do? Ever wondered why it’s so hard to do the things that you know are the right things to do?

Our sinful nature causes us to often make the wrong choice. You can probably relate to the apostle Paul when he says, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate . . . So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t” (Romans 7:15, 17-18 NLT).

Even after you become a follower of Jesus, there’s this tension inside of you. You have your good nature that God gave you, but you also have your old sinful nature that is pulling at you.

But there is a way out! Jesus promised in John 8:32, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (NIV).

The secret to personal change is not willpower or something you do or say. It’s not a pill, resolution, or vow you make.

The secret to personal change is something you know.

You know the truth. When you change the way you think, it changes the way you feel. And when you change the way you feel, it changes the way you act.

Behind every self-defeating act is a lie you believe. It may be a lie about yourself, your past or future, God, or others.

Why do you do something that you know is bad for you? Because you think there’s some kind of payoff. That’s the lie! You can only change and fulfill God’s purpose for your life if you start with God’s truth. If you want to change the way you live, you need to start in your mind. You need to know and believe God’s truth.

When you know the truth, the truth will set you free.

The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking

SOURCE:  LESLEY ALDERMAN/The New York Times

Here’s a New Year’s challenge for the mind: Make this the year that you quiet all those negative thoughts swirling around your brain.

All humans have a tendency to be a bit more like Eeyore than Tigger, to ruminate more on bad experiences than positive ones. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that helps us avoid danger and react quickly in a crisis.

But constant negativity can also get in the way of happiness, add to our stress and worry level and ultimately damage our health. And some people are more prone to negative thinking than others. Thinking styles can be genetic or the result of childhood experiences, said Judith Beck, a psychologist and the president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Children may develop negative thinking habits if they have been teased or bullied, or experienced blatant trauma or abuse. Women, overall, are also more likely to ruminate than men, according to a 2013 study.

“We were built to overlearn from negative experiences, but under learn from positive ones,” said Rick Hanson, a psychologist and senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

But with practice you can learn to disrupt and tame negative cycles.

The first step to stopping negative thoughts is a surprising one. Don’t try to stop them. If you are obsessing about a lost promotion or the results of the presidential election, whatever you do, don’t tell yourself, “I have to stop thinking about this.”

“Worry and obsession get worse when you try to control your thoughts,” Dr. Beck said.

Instead, notice that you are in a negative cycle and own it. Tell yourself, “I’m obsessing about my bad review.” Or “I’m obsessing about the election.”

By acknowledging your negative cycle and accepting it, you are on your way to taming your negative thoughts. Acceptance is the basic premise of mindfulness meditation, a practice that helps reduce stress and reactivity. You don’t necessarily have to close your eyes and meditate every day to reap the benefits of mindfulness. You can remind yourself to notice your thoughts in a nonjudgmental manner, without trying to change or alter them right away.

Accepting negative thoughts can also help lessen their weight. Getting mad at yourself for worrying or telling yourself to stop worrying only adds fuel to the negativity fire.

After you’ve accepted a negative thought, force yourself to challenge it.

Let’s go back to the setback at work. Perhaps not getting the promotion made you worry about your overall competence and you were berating yourself about your skills. Ask yourself, “Why would one setback mean that I am incompetent?” Or you might ask, “What have I done in the past that shows I am actually a very competent worker?”

If you’re having trouble challenging your negative thoughts, try this approach. Imagine that your friend is the one who received the bad news. What advice would you give him or her? Now think of how that advice might apply to you.

A study conducted at Ohio State University found that this method — known as Socratic questioning — was a simple way to reduce depressive symptoms in adults. In the study, 55 adults were enrolled in a 16-week course of cognitive therapy sessions. Researchers studied videotapes of the sessions and found that the more frequently therapists used Socratic questioning, the more the patients’ depressive symptoms lessened. The study’s authors theorized that Socratic questioning helped patients examine the validity of their negative thoughts and gain a broader, more realistic perspective on them.

There will be times when your bleak thoughts are actually valid, but your projections about what’s next are not. Consider this scenario: Your partner has left you for someone else. “My partner doesn’t love me anymore,” might be accurate, said Dr. Beck, but “No one else will ever love me,” is probably not.

Now move from a place of inaction to action to counteract the negative thought. If you are worried about feeling unloved, check in with friends and family members. If you are feeling insecure at work, make a list of your accomplishments. Perhaps ask your best friend to write you a letter telling you all the ways in which you are a good, kind person. Reread the letter daily.

Dr. Hanson, author of “Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence,” said it may be helpful to ask yourself if you are accomplishing anything by dwelling on your negative thoughts. If you’re ruminating on your financial problems during a run around the track in hopes of finding a solution, then that is useful. But fretting for lap after lap about the president-elect or a foreign crisis is not going to accomplish anything.

When your negative thoughts are making you feel agitated and overwhelmed, take a deep breath, and then another. Practicing controlled breathing can help lower the stress response and calm anxious thoughts.

Finally, if your thoughts are making you feel seriously distressed and interfering with your ability to work and relax, consider seeing a mental health professional. Therapists who specialize in cognitive therapy, which teaches practical ways to cope with persistent and unwanted thoughts, may be particularly helpful. If the underlying source of your thoughts is clinical depression or intense anxiety, you might want to talk with a professional about the root cause of your negative thinking patterns and discuss medications that can be helpful.

While you are sorting out what approach works best for you, give yourself a break and have compassion for your overwrought thoughts.

“The more you dwell on the negative, the more accustomed your brain becomes to dwelling on the negative,” said Dr. Hanson, who suggests asking yourself, “Are my thoughts helping to build me up, or tear me down?”

To Change How You Act, Change the Way You Think

SOURCE:  Rick Warren

“Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes”

(Ephesians 4:23 NLT, second edition).

Change requires new thinking.

In order to change, we must learn the truth and start making good choices, but we also must change the way we think.

The battle for sin starts in your mind, not in your behavior. The way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel determines the way you act. If you want to change the way you act, you start by changing the way you think. In addition, if you want to change the way you feel, you must start with changing the way you think.

For instance, I can say, “I need to love my kids more,” but that isn’t going to work. You can’t fight your way into a feeling. You must change the way you think about your kids, about your husband, about your wife, and that will change the way you feel, which will then change the way you act. The Bible says, “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” (Ephesians 4:23 NLT, second edition).

Let me sum it up this way: You are not what you think you are. Rather, what you think, you are. The battle to deal with those defects in your life that you don’t like starts in your mind. If you want to change anything in your behavior or anything in your emotions, start with your thoughts and your attitude.

The renewal of your mind is related to the word “repentance.” I know repentance is a murky word for a lot of people. They think it means something you don’t really want to do or something painful. They think of a guy standing on a street corner with a sign that says, “Repent! The world’s about to end!”

Repentance has nothing to do with your behavior. It’s about learning to think differently. “Repent” simply means to make a mental U-turn. It’s something you do in your mind, not with your behavior. Changing the way you think will then affect your emotions and your behavior.

When I repent, I turn from guilt to forgiveness. I turn from Hell to Heaven. I turn from purposelessness to purpose in life. I turn from no hope to new hope. I turn from frustration to freedom. I turn from darkness to light!

That’s the kind of change I need to be able to change the rest of my life.

Change Your Thoughts & Reshape Your Life

SOURCE:  Rick Warren

“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (Proverbs 4:23 TEV).

God is far more interested in changing your mind than changing your circumstances.

We want God to take away all of the problems, pain, sorrow, suffering, sickness, and sadness. But God wants to work on you first, because transformation won’t happen in your life until you renew your mind, until your thoughts begin to change.

Why is it so important that you learn how to manage your mind?

Let me give you three reasons.

Manage your mind, because your thoughts control your life.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (TEV). The power of your thoughts has tremendous ability to shape your life for good or for bad. For example, maybe you accept the thought someone told you when you were growing up, “You’re worthless. You don’t matter.” If you accepted that thought, even though it was wrong, it shaped your life.

Manage your mind, because the mind is the battleground for sin.
All temptation happens in the mind. Paul says in Romans 7:22-23, “I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin” (TLB).

One of the reasons why you get mentally fatigued is because there’s a battle in your brain 24 hours a day. It’s debilitating because it’s intense, and it’s intense because your mind is your greatest asset. Satan wants your greatest asset!

Manage your mind, because it’s the key to peace and happiness.
An unmanaged mind leads to tension. A managed mind leads to tranquility. An unmanaged mind leads to conflict. A managed mind leads to confidence. An unmanaged mind leads to stress. When you don’t try to control your mind and the way you direct your thoughts, you will have an enormous amount of stress in your life. But a managed mind leads to strength and security and serenity.

“Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace” (Romans 8:6 NLT, second edition).

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