by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
Over the past weeks, I have been challenging you to adopt a more grateful, positive mindset for 2019. If you have been taking me up on this, I bet you have discovered a positive outlook takes work. That’s because by the time we hit adulthood our perspective is infected by what psychology calls “stinking thinking.” These are subconscious, negative biases and assumptions the brain uses to filter information.
Do you know someone who focuses on the negative and ignores the good things in life? That’s a “mental filter.” “Emotional reasoning” is a thought error that interprets the world through how we are feeling instead of facts. This makes our emotions the barometer of how we view life. A person who always feels guilty and thinks everything wrong is their fault has the problem of “personalization.” When someone consistently makes mountains out of molehills they have the cognitive distortion of “catastrophizing.”
These are just a few examples of the many thinking errors we adopt. While they may seem harmless, they are toxic and rob people of their happiness. Psychology has discovered if we change the way we think we will change the way we live. As a Christian therapist, I know God had the jump on this way before psychology ever caught wind of it.
Here’s what God had to say about stinking thinking. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is destruction” (Proverbs). Also in Proverbs, we are told: “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” In other words, what we think will affect how we live. You won’t find someone with a negative mind living a positive life. Eventually, the toxic thought patterns will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and infect every relationship they have. That’s because “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Proverbs). A stinky thought life becomes air pollution to others.
We think people are negative because of their circumstances. But according to the bible (and psychology), it is more often the other way around. A negative mind produces a negative life full of tarnished relationships.
So what’s the cure? Luckily, God has the antidote to our stinking thinking. He says we “take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians). In other words, think about Jesus, His sinless life and obedience unto death, instead of your life and circumstances. How about this one, “we transform our lives by the renewing of our mind” (Romans). What do we renew our mind to? What God says about us, our life and circumstances.
Bill Johnson, the pastor of Bethel Church, says “you can’t afford to have a thought in your head about yourself that God doesn’t have in His head about you.” Here is the excellent news. If you are in Christ, His thoughts toward you are good. Really, really good.
He calls you things like “overwhelming conqueror,” “forgiven,” “righteous,” and “beloved Son.” He says He will “cause all things to work together for your good,” and that His “plans for you are good.” As you can see, God’s thoughts are in direct opposition to the negative biases most of us are operating on. So ask yourself, who’s right about you, you or God? If you answered you, please call Caring Counseling Ministries at 618-997-2129. You have some “Illusions of Grandeur” that need to be discussed immediately!