Attitude of Your Mind

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Managing Your Anxiety and Depression

Part I

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, . . .” — Matthew 4:19

When Jesus Christ spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus, his mind, attitude, and career were changed. He then began his life long mission, to transform the minds and attitudes of those that would listen (Acts 9:1–20). To the Romans he said, “Do not conform any longer 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” — Romans 12:2. In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul asked them to, “. . . put off your old self . . . to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self . . . created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” — Ephesians 4:22–23.

Jesus also transformed the twelve disciples character, including changing their careers; and they never turned back like other disciples (John 6:66). On their quests to follow Jesus, they were learning what he thought was important in life. They did this by observing and listening to him 24/7. Only eleven grew in their relationship with Christ. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John’s recording in the gospels have become a blessing to all Christians — they were the great disciples’ of Christ.

Do you want to change (be transformed), to manage your anxiety and depression? If “yes,” you have probably been working on reducing your symptoms and forming a more intimate relationship with God. Transformation will require you to learn about critical thoughts that produce critical language, an ungodly attitude, and the use of ungodly defenses, which is the bedrock of depression and anxiety, (read on for definitions). Working on change is always difficult and sometimes uncomfortable, but God is always with His children during a challenge.

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Christ.” — 1Corinthians 3:11

Receiving a call from someone in psychic pain, I ask that they explain the reason for seeking therapy. During the initial session, I determine their diagnosis. The diagnosis may require utilizing Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), to assist my non-Christian clients’. Cognitive means your thoughts, which causes your behavior. CBT reduces their symptoms and transforms them to a life of happiness. I also provide tools to face future challenges appropriately. With their permission, I use Christian Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CCBT), to assist my Christian clients’ in transformation.

Identifying with the mind of Christ is the foundation for CCBT. CCBT is my three step technique of prayer, process, and practice — PPP. I believe prayer is imperative to change. It’s the reasoning for prayer being the first step of the PPP, to renew your mind. Paul mentions when to pray, by telling the Thessalonians to . . . “pray continually;” . . . (1Thessalonians 5:17). You may use the CCBT technique, to reduce your symptoms of anxiety and depression, or determine it’s time to seek professional assistance.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” — John 1:1–2

To begin your transformation, I start with Jesus is the Word. I hope you know that your declaration of believing in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior begins with a relationship of trust; and does not mean life becomes exuberant, or without problems. Your journey as a Christian is a very important relationship with Jesus and God. It’s very personal, in that God is omnipresent, omniscience, and omnipotent (Holman, 1991):

· omnipresent is to say that God is present everywhere in the world at once

· the omniscience God is that attribute of knowing you intimately; your past, present and future

· an omnipotent God has the ability and power to do anything; nothing is impossible with God

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight” — Hebrews 4:13. Therefore, being more like Jesus should be the beginning of trying to keep a positive mood 24/7.

Your communication, mind, and attitude are unique to you; are front and center in your transformation to reducing your anxiety and depressive symptoms. Your attitude of your mind consists of:

· your response to a certain idea, object, person, or situation

· how it influences your behavior

· your reaction to challenges, incentives, and rewards

When you think about this definition, you can see how your symptoms and attitude are composed of your:

· beliefs

· feelings

· reaction to a situation, or event (past or present)

· positive, or negative thoughts

“. . . be transformed . . .” — Romans 12:2

Transformation means reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, on a regular basis, or permanently. This is not an easy process. To consider a change, you have to examine all aspects of yourself. One of my favorite writers Oswald Chambers (1982) states, “Get into the habit of dealing with God about everything.” Dealing with God about everything can not be accomplished without the inclusion of the Holy Spirit. Change happens through the work of the Holy Spirit, the Counselor; and asking God to shed light on everything about you. “. . . no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” — 1Corinthians 2:9–10.

Because of God’s unconditional love for you, the Holy Spirit is the conduit to acknowledging what God knows will help you. It pleases God and is His will, when you are working towards change. The end result of working towards transformation is a life of peace; with Jesus as your constant companion and the Holy Spirit directing you. “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God, my Savior and my hope is in you all day long” — Psalms 25:4.

Besides the Holy Spirit, there is the addition of your bible/spiritual knowledge of Christ, as the foundation of your Christian life. You want to absorb all you can, for personal growth and transformation. Bible knowledge is given by reading, studying the scriptures and daily devotional time with God. The words of God will reveal the truth about you through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit reveals the truth — “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth” — John 16:13. “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” — 1Corinthians 2:10. Because of your love for Christ, the Holy Spirit has brought you to this time, to reveal things to work on — to put on the new self.

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart . . .” — Matt 15:18

To acknowledge and reduce anxiety and depression, it’s important that you consider what’s in your heart. God is very interested in the heart of His children. 1Samuel 16:7. . . “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” The apostle Luke (6:45) records Jesus saying, “For of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks”; and Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is living and active . . . ; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Proverbs 27:19 states that what’s in your heart is reflected in your face — “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Sadness, anxiety, and smiling are facial expressions from the heart and mind, which is an automatic process.

“. . . if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” — Philippians 4:8

CBT specialists know that negative thoughts can result in clients experiencing sorrow in their lives — no peace. Thoughts can be automatic. An automatic thought is a thought that occurs without your awareness (Sharf, 2000). Automatic thoughts come and go in seconds, and are sometimes not remembered. An example of automatic thoughts are the ones you have when driving a car, or riding a bike. Once you learned how, you can do both while focusing on other things.

Having a critical (negative) thought (distortions) process is not of God, and increases the negative symptoms. The apostle Paul made this fact very clear in his letter to the Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” Individuals do not recognize their critical thoughts. They also do not understand how this relates to what’s in their heart. Unless the automatic thought (distortions) is focused upon, it will not be recognized and changed, due to the power of the brain.

“The tongue . . . it corrupts the whole person . . .” — James 3:6

Negative automatic thoughts (distortions), produce negative statements — the critical voice, which is also automatic. Distortions are universal for individuals with anxiety and depression and the origin begins with a negative event. Some individuals may experience a negative event, and do not believe it has changed them. Anxiety, depression, the critical thoughts and language are based on not working out/resolving negative events that stayed within the heart. The brain reveals the negativity in the heart, by the critical thoughts and statements. Anytime you have a change in mood, your thought process is negative. The practice of CCBT asks that you try to remember what you were thinking and doing, prior to a mood change; if you cannot remember, this is the challenging part. You will need to sit quietly and think about what you were doing and thinking to increase the anxiety, or depression. Below is an example of a negative event with a critical statement and a list of distortions:

· “You idiot, you ruined my whole carpet!!” This was said, while screaming and with a chuckle/laugh, when anything was spilled on the carpet. (This client had a history of child and adult verbal abuse by a parent, with unresolved negative experiences). A carpet can be cleaned, but a negative statement spoken to a spouse, child, or friend can be very damaging to the relationship. Negative name calling gives children low self-esteem and adults feel unloved. Is the carpet more important than the relationship and tearing down the confidence in another person? Angry outbursts were no longer tolerated by the spouse, which brought the client to therapy; and laughter is an attempt to cover up the anxiety. During therapy their heart revealed the following critical thoughts and statements (distortions) that produces the anxiety and depression:

· I’m worthless

· I will never be happy

· He/she is stupid, they don’t know nothing

· He/she doesn’t like you, if they did they would do _____.

· You/I will never be anything

· I have to do everything perfectly

· Why me? (this distortion explained in a separate article)

· I know what you/they are thinking

· Things will never get better

· I’m a loser that’s why I will never get married, no one wants me

· I woke up late; it’s going to be a bad day

· I’m a failure,” or to someone else, he/she’s a jerk

· Don’t you have something better to do?

· He/she should help me

· You will never change/I can never change

(More examples of the critical thoughts and language are presented in August Part II article).

. . . “But we have the mind of Christ.” — 1Corinthians 2:16

When you identify as a Christian first, you accomplish a great step to transformation. You want to conquer this step, to become more like Christ. Psychologists know that identity is very important (race, ethnicity, and culture), but I see these as secondary for a Christian. When allowing God’s word to penetrate your heart, the Holy Spirit becomes a constant reminder that you are a child of God; and working to be Christ like. You also make the appropriate turn to go down the right road. Your mind will then follow your heart, to lead you to Godly thoughts, and tongue; when you think of yourself positively your symptoms of anxiety and depression decrease. “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” “But we have the mind of Christ” — 1Corinthians 2:16.

To be changed, you must examine your heart, mind, and what you say to yourself and others. Your journey begins with a commitment to pray continually asking God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to bring to light what needs to change (1st P). The ultimate goal is being transformed, to be renewed in how you approach the challenges of life. The new self will have you responding to challenges of life in a Godly manner that decreases anxiety and depressive symptoms; and allows you to grow into the man, or woman God planned for you to be.

Until Part II — Give God the Glory,

Dr. Terri L. Thompson

Excerpts from Manuscript “Attitude of Your Mind — Managing Your Anxiety and Depression” by Dr. Terri L. Thompson © Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved