Consider what life would be like if we would address the can’ts in our lives, as in:
- “I can’t do that,”
- “It’s not possible to get rid of that,”
- “There’s no way that can happen,”
- “I’m too old to change,” or sadly,
- “I want to change, but I don’t know how.”
Using our intellect—and with God’s help—we can turn the can’ts around—greatly improving our state of mind and well-being. By challenging our distorted thoughts (and we all distort our thinking in some way), we can learn to think more realistically and feel much better. As a result, we can counter the damage that negative thinking can do to us.
Take Mark, for example. An associate pastor, he has been asked by the elders’ board to become senior pastor after the senior pastor took a position elsewhere. Mark is ordinarily self-confident about his ability to speak in front of various groups in the church. But the thought of standing in front of the entire congregation, in the sanctuary, on a Sunday morning turns him into walking Jell-O. He has never preached a sermon to everyone before, and he is sure he will flub it.
But the elders insist that he give it a try, and after praying about it, Mark thinks God may be telling him to go for it.
Mark has spent all week preparing and practicing his message, in the privacy of his office, but as he is ready to step to the podium, a series of horrible scenes fly through his mind:
The microphone won’t work.
I’ll get upset and lose my place.
Which will cause me to stutter.
Then I’ll get it all messed up.
And everyone will laugh at me.
That will make the elders furious
I can forget any hopes of getting this job.
I’ll be lucky if I keep my current job.
I’ll be destroyed.
In a matter of seconds, Mark has both written a script for disaster and convinced himself it is inevitable. No wonder, then, by the time he opens his mouth to speak, his tongue is stuck to the roof of his mouth, his palms are sweaty, his knees are knocking, and his voice is wobbly.
He stutters. He loses his place. I knew it, he says to himself, miserably.
Mark has fallen victim the Chicken Little syndrome . . . and, as expected, the sky fell in on him when it didn’t need to. But he needed to get his negative thoughts under control, limiting the panic that could have cost him the chance at the senior pastorate.
Negative thoughts are perfectly normal. Most people have a constant stream of them running through their mind. They might merely be quick little daydreams that have nothing to do with the task at hand. Or, they might be critical to accomplishing the task at hand.
Because your thoughts—whether positive or negative—have a profound affect on what you do, there are times when it is vital to make yourself consciously aware of precisely what you are thinking. You can learn to rewind the tape of your thoughts if you concentrate on doing so—reframing them into something more realistic and positive. We’ll help you with that. Get started now.
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