Monday, December 6, 2010

Loosening the Grip of Negative Thoughts

Let the Light Through

I've been reading inspirational books a long time.  A family member, a few years ago, asked me why, since I read so many of those books, was I the way I was.  I could only answer, "Yes, but imagine what I'd be like if I wasn't reading them."

So you can see that I was an incorrigible negative thinker.  Deep down, I rarely saw the bright side of anything.  Eventually I became determined to change, but I discovered a major problem ... I couldn't seem to come up with anything positive to think about.  Well, it's not that I've never had good things to think about, but even if I thought of them, I would slip right back into negative thoughts. 

There was much good, helpful information in all those inspirational books, but something was missing.  If I couldn't latch onto any positive thoughts (at any particular time I was trying to), what was I to do to break my negative thinking habit?

I've utilized three main methods to overcome my miserable condition.  The first two are in most books I've read, but didn't seem to begin working for me until after I began to break free.  They are:
  • Saying my "thank-yous" to God; and
  • Memorizing and reciting Scripture.
But the #1 most successful way I use to break free and stay free from negative thinking is:
  • Singing hymns, and praise and worship songs.  They are easy to learn, easy to repeat- over and over if necessary- to keep unpleasant thoughts at bay, and easy to access mentally as we let various songs to sing drift into our minds as the Spirit leads.
All of the above are done silently, to myself, or out loud if desired and circumstances allow. But practicing them consistently as we are led by the Spirit will break the stronghold of negative thinking!

First, however, as we make use of songs, gratitude, and Scripture, let's be sure we're keeping up with our prayer life.  Many years ago, I read an article on cleaning that mentioned that McDonald's (I think) taught their employees to follow the CAYG rule:  Clean as you go.  We need to pray as we go.  Joyce Meyer says we need to pray our way through the day.  That keeps us receptive to the Spirit's leading.  Let's chat with God all day long.

Silently singing hymns and praise and worship songs we've memorized is especially useful at night when it can be particularly difficult to quiet our active minds.  This method is calming and comforting.  It works to subdue and displace negative thoughts when all else fails.

Reciting Scripture we've memorized works well anytime, but is especially beneficial upon rising and at work.  This method is strengthening, empowering, and energizing.

And "counting our blessings," naming them one by one by saying "Thank you God for _________," helps us throughout the day and night, particularly when we are too exhausted for prayer or Scripture.  This method is humbling and edifying because it reminds us of God's many provisions and that indeed, God is good.  It's entertaining, too, to see how creative we can be in what we thank Him for.

Finally, interwoven throughout any and all of the above should be our personal praise, worship, and adoration for our Holy Father, His Son, and His Spirit, which restores and refreshes us.  As our well-being is improved and fortified, positive thoughts multiply, blocking and nudging away less desirable thoughts.

In future posts I will expand on each of these aids.  I'll have a few other tips that have helped me, as well.  And of course, you can find anything you want to reread under Tools for Overcoming Negative Thinking on the righthand side of the screen.  (Be sure to read Part 2 for another aid I found very helpful.)

We "can do all things through Christ
who strengthens" us.
Philippians 4:13   (NKJV)

Praying this might be helpful,
Bess

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Bess