Friday, June 23, 2023

Thinking These Things

 By: Lauren Thomas

Our thoughts strongly influence our emotions, attitudes, and actions. One theory of psychotherapy posits that by targeting and reshaping thoughts, some mental illnesses can be reversed. If our thoughts are so significant as to shape our mental health, why don’t we spend more time cultivating what is happening in our minds? Why not actively think about thinking?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy uses a formula called ABC to show the impact of our thoughts:
Activating Event (the situation) + Beliefs/Thoughts = Consequences (in the form of emotions or behaviors)
When we experience something difficult, what and how we think about that experience will impact how we feel and act. 

Paul understood the power of thinking. In Philippians 4, he told the Philippian church to rejoice always, to be reasonable, and to forsake anxiety. All these directives are related to how we think. Paul went on to list some ideas for filling our minds.
Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Here enters the “D” in the in the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy ABC’s. “D” refers to “dispute.” We sometimes have to “dispute” our thoughts and anchor them in something more helpful. Paul’s list isn’t exhaustive, but it can help us dispute some of our thinking. Consider with me how using Philippians 4:8 to shape my thoughts changes my outlook.
Whatever is true…
What I’m facing is difficult. Even so, God is faithful and his love toward us is steadfast. Because of this, I can believe that He will be faithful even in my difficulty and his love will not waver.
Whatever is honorable…
This weekend we celebrated fathers. My husband is honorable. He sacrifices so much for the welfare of his family. When I remember and acknowledge this, it’s difficult to be bothered with small pet peeves.
Whatever is pure…
My children misbehave. They are not perfect. But when I remember their purity and innocence, it makes me want to fight for it, fight for them! It makes me want to give them more grace, more patience, more gentleness. 
Whatever is lovely…
Instagram is full of lovely things, but spending too much time there inevitably causes me to compare, resulting in discontentment and envy. So, I put down my phone and look around. I see the flowers, the butterflies. I listen to the birds. I savor my coffee. I cultivate loveliness in my home. The beauty of God’s creation is all around me!
Your thoughts are important! Today, let’s think about what we are thinking and how we are thinking.
What thoughts are negatively influencing your emotions, attitudes, and actions?
How could you dispute these thoughts with Scripture?

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