Over the last few years, we listened and watched with enthusiasm and hope as the new President-Elect Barack Obama introduced the concept of change into the presidential election. It is clear that he understands that change is an essential element in reviving an America that has undergone severe trauma over the past 8 years. If America is going to rise above its current devastating condition, a change must come. All along the campaign trail we heard a resounding theme, YES WE CAN… In some places we heard YES WE MUST… But I firmly believe that before WE can make a change, you and I must make individual changes. What is it that must change? Our thinking!
President-Elect Obama was not the first to promote the idea of change. Martin Luther King Jr. proposed an important strategy for change in his speech, Nonviolence: the Only Road to Freedom. Mary McLeod Bethune said: “We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.” But one of my favorite passages in the greatest book of all time says: “If any man, woman, boy or girl be in Christ Jesus, he or she is a new creature. Old things are passed away and behold all things become new.” [II Corinthians. 5:17] This passage most certainly supports the notion that a change must come in order for one to please God.
During my academic preparation to become a clinical psychologist many theories were proposed to assist students in understanding why people behave the way they do. There is great value in cognitive theories, and I adopted and continue to espouse cognitive behavioral strategies to help people to change and modify negative and maladaptive thinking in order to reduce negative feelings and ultimately destructive behaviors. The mind is a powerful tool, and our thinking has a great impact on how we appraise situations, events, and people.
The cognitive behavioral approach simply suggests that the way one perceives the events, situations and people in one’s life affects one’s feelings and behaviors. This approach sounds a lot like a principle in Scripture that says: “So a man thinks so is he.”[Proverbs 23:7] In order to change destructive behavior, and to reduce or eliminate negative feelings, one must change and/or modify one’s thinking.
Some are afflicted with “Stinking Thinking” which is defined as negative/maladaptive thinking that tends to corrupt the mind, body, and spirit. “Stinking Thinking” can severely limit one’s ability to set and reach goals, make good decisions, and live the life that God intended for one to live. Further, negative thinking prevents one from affirming the past, shaping the present, and anticipating a great future. We all are guilty of stinking thinking but some bask in it. It can corrode your very being.
Negative thinkers tend to be at risk of experiencing poor mental, physical, and spiritual health. For example, a negative mindset contributes to feelings of sadness, fear, and worry that can lead to destructive behaviors, such as drinking, drugs, overeating, excessive spending, gambling, and sexual acting out.
Negative people tend to surround themselves with other negative people, resulting in a bad attitude, the inability to work in harmony with others, and failure to serve God and the people of God.
There are far too many gifted and talented people who have been given a specific assignment by God who are stricken by self defeating and faulty thinking, such as I can’t; I’m stupid, I’m ugly, I’m worthless OR paranoid thinking, she’s looking at me, they don’t like me, they think I’m ugly, they think I’m not smart. This kind of thinking prevents one from accepting one’s assignment, and failure to do so contributes to a defeated non-productive life. Therefore, a CHANGE MUST COME.
BENEFITS OF CHANGING NEGATIVE THINKING
- Your attitude will become more positive.
- You will experience feelings of joy and peace.
- You will change self-destructive habits and behaviors.
- You will develop a servant’s heart with a real desire to serve others.
STRATEGIES FOR CHANGING YOUR THINKING
- Become spiritually mature through prayer, devotion, praise & worship, and fellowship through the local church.
- Guard your mind by being careful about what you allow to come into your mind.
- Change your environment.
- Forgive those who have hurt you.
- Seek counsel from a trained Christian professional to assist you in your process of healing.
When you change your thinking, you will be in a better position to effectuate change in your home, community, society, and the world.
“Living in the past may cause paralysis that may prevent one from successfully walking into the future” Gloria Morrow, Ph.D. Gloria Morrow, Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist/Author Too Broken to be Fixed? A Spiritual Guide to Inner Healing Word of Life Christian Bookstores, Los Angeles, CA Zahra’s Books & things, Inglewood, CA http://www.amazon.com http://www.gloriamorrow.com
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