I'm Friends with the Monster: The Importance of Renewing your Mind
The mind can be a scary place. I'm of the opinion that the majority of our problems are in our head. That's not to say that we don't have problems that are real and that demand attention. I know alot of us are facing some really hard stuff. What I am saying is that our problems have the tendency to become intensified in our mind. What started off as one problem lends itself to fear, anxiety, doubt, confusion, temptation, sin, etc. Now you have a bigger problem. What starts off as one problem can very well change your whole state of mind and outlook on life, causing you to view each new situation you encounter through a lens tainted by a previous issue. As we allow our circumstances to dictate our thought life, our perspective becomes more and more negative. Are you following me? In her song "The Monster," Rihanna sings, "I'm friends with the monster that's under my bed. Get along with the voices inside of my head..." The truth is we all have voices inside of our heads. We call them thoughts. Some build us up and some tear us down. The problem is that many of us have made friends with our destructive thought patterns. We don't recognize the damage it does to us to constantly think negatively about ourselves and our circumstances. We don't recognize that many of the things that we have accepted to be true are outright lies, whispered into our ear by the voice of the enemy. Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
I'll never be happy. I'll never get it right. I'm just not ________ enough.
We all have these kind of thoughts from time to time. The trick is to not make friends with them, to not allow them to stick around and to not allow them to dictate how we view our lives. In Romans 12:2, Paul writes, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Rom. 12:2). If we want to kick negativity's butt, we need to learn how to think more positively, despite our circumstaces. Living as the new person that God has called us to be requires us to have a new mind. We need to begin thinking like Jesus and viewing our lives through the lens of His love, but how do we do that?
1. Take control of each thought
I used to struggle with anxiety. The truth is from time to time, I still feel anxious thoughts start to come creeping in. I have learned the importance of taking control of each thought. I learned to discern whether the thought I was having was beneficial or not. Then I would take each thought that was damaging me to Jesus through prayer. I began to turn my long stints of overthinking and overanalyzing into short prayers. I would do this quietly in my head at work, at school or at home. Eventually, my thought life started to look more like a prayer life then a continual excercise in worrying and negative thinking.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) 2. Know who you are
I think many of the negative thoughts we have center around our own identity. We have all battled with thoughts centered around who we are, who we are not and who we wished we were. We are our own worst critics. It is time that we started viewing ourselves through the eyes of Jesus and start recognizing how loved and valuable we are in His sight. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor. 5:21)
3. Learn to find the silver lining
Even if we do our best to think positively, we are still going to encounter situations that suck. Plain and simple. These situations will shake us and challenge us. But it gets a little easier to handle once we recognize that we serve a God who uses every situation for our good. When we walk in relationship with Jesus, there is always the assurance of a silver lining. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to a purpose. (Rom. 8:28)