“What’s on your mind?” If you’ve ever asked that question to your boyfriend or husband, you’re familiar with the look of panic, bewilderment or anguish that can spread over a man’s face.
It’s probably one of their least favorite questions, right up there with, “Honey, do you think we should stop and ask for directions?”
But I have to admit that it’s not a question I like to ask myself either, because often I’m quite shocked by what’s there.
Anger … doubt … worry … fear – these intruders have all plopped themselves down on the couch in my mind from time to time and tried to make themselves right at home.
Just the other day, as I reviewed my list of 2016 goals, I felt a sense of despair start to creep up on me.
What if I don’t save and invest the amount of money that I’ve targeted? What if I don’t reach my goal weight this year? How will I feel if I don’t complete and submit my book proposal by the end of spring? Why is it so difficult for me to meet a nice guy, when So-and-So seems to have no problem?
And on and on it went.
As I fell deeper into that line of thinking, I noticed that I felt worse and worse. A dull headache. Apathy. Procrastination. The blahs.
That’s when I knew it was time to redirect my thoughts.
One of the biggest areas in counseling today, both Christian and secular, is called cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps people learn not to simply let their thoughts guide them, but also to change their thoughts from negative to positive.
Our thoughts and our ability to direct them are tremendously powerful. This isn’t a new idea, though.
A great deal of how we feel, what we accomplish and how we invest our lives is supported by some ancient words of wisdom:
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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 … And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8, 9b, NIV)
As I elevated my thoughts, my energy level and sense of expectancy rose as well.
So, have I mastered this yet? No exactly. But I’m making progress. And whenever I think about where I am on my “Goals for the Year” list, I ask God to help me clear out the clutter of any negative thoughts.
Is anyone else up for some mental “spring cleaning” so we can fully live out God’s purpose for us with “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16)?
Toni Samuels is a contributor to the Ruby for Women magazine.