This past week, I met with our small group for prayer. As our friends trickled in, there seemed to be a lull in the energy of the room. I could tell one girl had been crying and hesitantly, she revealed that her mind had been hit with a whirlwind of self doubt that week. We all sat there watching tears stream down her face as she listed off the reasons she didn’t believe she was “enough.” It was crazy for me to hear her say “i’m not what guys look for, i’m not girly enough or pretty enough.” We all looked at her wondering how she couldn’t see the beauty, success and heart that we all saw in her.
But slowly, one by one we each began to look inside ourselves and express similar episodes of toxic thoughts and feelings. We all had felt so isolated and alone in our pain, but we weren’t alone at all. As admirable and gifted as everyone thought about each other, no one actually believed this about themselves. Imagine the joy and peace we would feel and exude, the mountains we would move if we thought the same thoughts we felt about each other.
It was refreshing to be uplifted by everyone’s kind, true words. Having a group of good, supportive friends is crucial. But you only get to be with them sometimes, you are with yourself 24/7. The most important relationship you have is with yourself. You hear your self talk all day long, and it never stops. As a group, we discussed a plan of action to snap out of a weighing funk and claim a life overflowing with joy and abundance. Here are the takeaways.
1. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7. It is biblically and psychologically proven that our thoughts turn into feelings and feelings turn into our behavior. Take a moment and reflect on how you have been acting and treating other people lately. No, you can not blame your feelings on circumstances or other people. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” This means you have to actually validate them in order for their words to affect you. Defensiveness is a sign you have given the other party power over your emotions. The power of choice will enable you to have joy no matter what the circumstances or how other people treat you. The verse says it is what a man thinks is HIS heart, not what other people thinks in theirs that determines who you are.
2. “Set your mind on what is above and keep it set.” Colossians 3:2. The phrase “Set your mind” means to start thinking intentionally. It’s easy to let thoughts wander aimlessly into our mind, but that is where the devil makes his playground. So you gotta put a filter of protection on your mind and toss out anything destructive or negative. The word “above” means to dwell on everything that is of God. “Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phillippians 4:8.
Your mind is a clean slate right when you wake up in the morning. So when your feet touch the floor, start intentionally thinking good things about yourself, your life and your family right away. It really helps to write out something you are wishing for in your life the night before. For instance, I wanted to be a more patient, gracious wife. So I wrote a declaration that said, “because of the Spirit living in me, I Kristen am a patient, gracious wife that always believes the best about my man.” This way, I have started the morning with the right mindset, which will make me feel better, and will ultimately lead to treating my husband better. It really is like magic.
3. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2. Notice the scripture says to not only set your mind but to KEEP it set. This implies that the Good Lord knows we are going to run into some annoyances, disappointments and maybe even tragedies throughout the day. It can be easy to regress back to our habitual ways of thinking. This could be blaming others or giving up and saying, “this is just how I react to things, I’m weak,” Believe me, I’m guilty of it. But I have discovered that just because I have a habit of getting irritable when something doesn’t go my way, does not mean that is how I am made to be. I also have a record that plays in my head that will tell me “you’re stupid, you talk too much, why aren’t you confident?'” every time I make a mistake. But, just as I created that ugly habit, I can create a good habit. Write down everything good you want to be and keep that list in your phone memo pad. That will be the new record you start playing in your head.
4. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4. A friend said the other night that feeling depressed generally signifies a lack of gratitude. When he said that, I got defensive inside and thought “I am not a selfish person, I feel very grateful!” But as it was pondered further, I realized how true this is. Maybe we feel generally grateful for our life, but perhaps we aren’t thinking about all we really have. It is so easy to finally get what you want, leaving you only to want more. We are always looking for the next stimulation. The next date, the next outfit, the new and improved gadget, the next paycheck. It’s so easy to look around us and see everyone’s successes. We are taught to be competitive since kindergarten. Our value is defined by how well we fare against our classmates. This would explain why naturally we are never satisfied.
All the thriving, striving and competing causes a lot of wear and tear on the spirit and bod, but I have learned a secret. Doing life out of the spirit of gratefulness, praise and thanksgiving has given me rest. When I haven’t booked a job in a few weeks, yet I am driving frantically all over LA to make it to 5 auditions, I could easily get discouraged and depressed. But instead, I remember to say “thank you God that I have a car to drive, money to put in parking meters and agents to send me out. I praise you that you have plans to prosper me in your time!” By thanking God for everything I already have, there has actually been an explosion of increase in my life.
5. Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:35. My mom always told me when I felt sad, to go do something for someone else. At times this would grate on me because I just wanted her to rub my back and validate my self pity. But as I have applied this approach in my adult years, it totally does the trick. I will sometimes catch myself slipping into a depression, and then remember to think about someone else. So I reach out to friends asking them how their day was. Before I know it, someone else has a way worse day than me and needs to talk it out. It is common that I forget what got me so upset in the first place. So take the focus off you and see how you can help someone else.
After we had hashed all this out as a group, we decided to make a pledge. Everyone of us wants to see the world changed and wants to influence our realms for good. But we finally realized, how can we raise up others and be a light on a hilltop when we are at constant war with ourselves? Our pledge this week was to only allow positive thoughts in our minds. I want you to make this pledge too. From relationshiphelpcenters.com:
Imagine a line:
Above -positive, good, lovely, true, pure
Below -negative, evil, lies, degrading, corrupt
“I, ________ only dwell on what is positive, good, lovely, true and pure. I think kind thoughts about the people in my life and I am important to them. I am a loving, strong, victorious, confident daughter of the Most High and my God has explosive blessings coming my way today.”
Speak this to yourself every morning and throughout the day. Save it in your phone to refresh your mind and spirit. Post it on your social media accounts and proclaim it to the world. Only one person gets to choose if you will be happy or not, and that person is you.