You get those people, don’t you? Those that no matter what solution you come with to their problem, they have a “Yes, but…” response. I’m a lot like that. I don’t give any solutions a chance. I don’t try anything – I sit and ponder my problem and let it consume me. And wait and hope and pray for a solution…
Negative thinking is a problem. It permeates every aspect of your life. And there are solutions…
Solutions that are found quite firmly rooted in the Word of God. In order to effect true change in our lives, we need to shift our thinking back to the truth.
John 15:5 New King James Version: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Did you get that? Without HIM we can do nothing. I have come so far in my walk in this life, and I know beyond knowing in my knower that I would not be where I am today were it not for the Grace of God. It is to my shame and my detriment that I don’t spend enough time in the word, learning and reading it for myself.
Having said all that though, even Christians love to come up with a problem with every solution. I do frustrate my dear husband so – he will offer a variety of solutions and I will find a problem with each one. This is the essence, I think, of toxic thinking. Instead of embracing solutions and making them work … you sit and stew in the problem. You never move forward. You stay stuck where you are. The stewing in negativity – whatever the problem may be – keeps you stuck.
And it’s not even the problem itself.
Or the solution.
It’s your attitude. It’s how you perceive the problem. We can never, ever control what life will throw our way.
But we can control how we respond – if we stay stuck or we move forward – if we believe, have faith, and are victorious. Or stay stuck and become bitter and twisted. Hubby has an Aunt who did not live the life that she wanted to live. Everything in her life worked against her and she made some really poor decisions, and I think she is incredibly lonely. And scared. And I truly feel for her. But, she pushes everyone away. So, in effect, her fears will be realised. Instead of embracing her life and welcoming people in – she pushes people away because is scared she will lose them; scared that they won’t accept her; scared they won’t love her. She eventually she will lose these people. She is stuck in bitterness and loneliness. She could embrace the friendship offered to her through friends and family on a daily basis, but she chooses to be quite mean. I heard last night that one of the children in the family didn’t want to give her a hug (I don’t know the child, but apparently this boy is chronically shy and was only about eight years old at the time) and she literally beat her fists on the child’s chest, saying, “Why, why don’t you want to hug me?” The boy doesn’t have to give her a hug. But in her fear of loneliness and rejection, that is how a retired woman who is in her mid-sixties, reacts to an eight year old child. Clearly something is wrong.
And I am not saying it is easy. In fact, the fight to change your thinking and your instinctual reactions to life is probably one of the hardest fights we as people have to do. But, no matter how hard it is – we still do have a choice. We are not bound by our DNA, our biology, our environments – we are only bound by God’s word.
There are things we can do to counteract the negativity prevalent in our hearts and in our lives. The first is always practicing gratitude. Find things in your life that you are grateful for and choose to focus on those things, instead of focusing on the negative.
The second is to doubt your doubts. I love this one courtesy of Joyce Meyers. Very often we believe things about ourselves that aren’t even true. And this incorrect belief system dictates how we react to life. For example, hubby’s aunt has a very strong belief system about herself that is clearly quite negative. Instead of beating her fists on a young eight-year old boy’s chest because he was too shy to give her a hug, she could instead take a step back and focus on the fact that he is shy and his not wanting to hug had – quite literally – nothing to do with her, or who she was, or anything like that. Had she done that, her reaction, would’ve been quite different.
The third is to realise that not every thought that flits into your head is to be believed. When I first became a mom, I seriously battled with toxic thinking. One of the prevalent thoughts at that time was that I was a terrible mother and that my child would die. Yes, clearly not normal. But, it changed when I started to believe it wasn’t true – because, my child was well fed, clothed, protected, bathed each day and has grown up into the most beautiful and kind young lady. I’m not one for taking any credit, but clearly I did okay (AM doing okay). So, I learned not to believe any and every thought that came into my head. I learnt the art of debating – really, you believe that thought? And everything around you is to the contrary?
The fourth is to focus on the Word of God. Do you believe that you will battle with anxiety for the rest of your life? Really? Because God’s word said that He did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. Feel unworthy, unloved, rejected? Really? Because God’s word says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. That He loved you so much, that he sent His son to die for you so that you can commune with Him for all eternity. Whatever thought you may be battling with, whatever toxic issue has come up in your life (eating too much, being lazy, feeling unworthy, unloved, battling with trust issues, etc) go back to God’s word and see what He has to say about it. His word is the truth and stands the test of time.
And the fifth is to never give up. It can take our entire lives to build up toxic thinking walls so strong that they define our very existence. Breaking these walls down will not happen over night. You have to keep on keeping on. You can’t give up. Because, you will see the dividends – you will see the change in your life, and then it will come to a point where it just snowballs. And this is where I feel I am now. I have worked so hard to change my thinking and to renew my mind that I almost feel like what started out as a little trickle is now snowballing.
I am excited for what God is doing in my life, in my heart and my mind, and I can’t wait to see what He has planned next.
And the final thing is to realise that Rome wasn’t built-in a day. It will take time. Along with the point above, I often found myself getting frustrated that things weren’t moving along quickly enough. But, we have to trust the process, trust that God knows what He is doing and work according to God’s time. We want a grateful heart and a loving spirit and positive outlook to seep into our very foundations, changing who we are at our core. We don’t want superficial change that will only switch back at the first hardship or test.
Today, I am grateful for:
Firstly, I am grateful for the work I see God doing in my life. He truly has blessed me beyond what I eyes could see and my ears could hear.
1 Corinthians 2:8-10 (NIVUK): None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ – the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
Secondly, I am grateful for the renewal I am seeing in my relationships, especially the relationship with my husband. I see changes, and it excites me, and as I am changing so people are reacting differently to me – more positively and more with love. Oh, thank you, Lord for taking the bull by the horns and showing me how toxic my thinking truly was.
Thirdly, I am grateful that God has given me a chance to build a truly strong relationship with my daughter. One where she feels safe and loved and cared for. I’m not sure I would be able to accomplish that on my own – given my background – without God’s grace and guidance.
Fourth, I am grateful for my life. There are so many little things in my life that I am grateful for: a warm bed, good coffee, wine club, my job, family, friends…
Finally, I am grateful to God Himself – for all that He has done, and is doing, and will be doing in my life.
Philippians 1:6: being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.