So how do we actually do this?
1) Know your Bible. Know the promises that Jesus earned for you. Make no mistake, you did not and cannot earn any of them. Jesus can and did.
2) Write down the promises. WRITE THEM DOWN.
3) Put your name in them “And the peace of God ….will guard <your name here or say “my”> heart and mind in Christ Jesus”. That is a great practice that needs to be done by you. You will believe it when you personalize it repeatedly.
4) Deny the devil a foothold. Learn what tricks the enemy uses. Self pity, fear, anger, martyrdom (not the good kind), selfishness, pride, loneliness, irritation, false friends (like Job’s wife). Those thoughts will sound like your thoughts so review every thought and ask “Of the Lord? Or of the enemy?”.
5) REFUSE ANY “WHAT IF’S” and “YEAH BUT’S”!!!! Those two phrases are the biggest tools the enemy uses. “What if something bad happens….what if I have another panic attack…yeah but God did not mean me….yeah but do I have to?….yeah but see I have this horrible thing that happened…..”.
You can assume that, for now, any thought that begins with the phrase what if or yeah but is invalid. Actually it will save you time from having to try to “think” your way through the fear if you just instantly toss those thoughts away as soon as you hear them in your head. Don’t look at them. Don’t “evaluate” them. Just chunk them. Those two phrases are the stench of fear–you don’t have to lick the thought to know it is rancid and decayed.
6) Learn how to redirect your thoughts…
Let’s take a moment right now to recognize one trouble area in our lives, perhaps being the victim of some sort of trauma, since that is fairly common. Now, it could be any sort of trauma, but let’s say it was a mugging. You were mugged at a gas station so now you are afraid of any gas stations. But you must get gas. So when you pull up, you are probably going to start getting pretty anxious, right? So redirect your thoughts. It does not matter what you think about. Think about pink bunnies, sing “I’m a little teapot”, think about how as soon as you get gas you can go in and buy a big gulp and a moon pie. BE STERN WITH YOURSELF! A brain can only concentrate on one thing at a time. If you can keep a coherent thought in your head, then you can redirect your thoughts. I will prove it to you….
Ok right now think of a pink bunny. Close your eyes and think a sleeping pink bunny on a red pillow. Did you think of a pink bunny? Then you have the mental ability to not have bad thoughts. It is not magic, it is practice. That is all it is. PRACTICE. Every single time that you have a bad thought, think another thought. You might have to sing “I’m a little teapot” for an hour straight, but what you are doing is retraining your brain.
See, when we have bad memories, post traumatic stress, bad thoughts, then what happens is that when we are in a similar situation, our brains will replay that scene. It becomes a mental habit. Same thing happens when we see, oh, a play ground and we think of kids, or see a cake and think birthday or hear “our song” and think of our sweeties. Our minds are used to making connections and associations. However, those associations can change! You might have used to think about boys and think “cooties!”, now you think about boys and you think about young male children. You used to hear “bank” and think “piggy”. Now you hear “bank” and you think “mortgage”.
What you have to do is replace a bad thought with a good one. Oh the first few times you try to replace that thought, the spiritual warfare will be big enough that you can probably hear the bugles! Eventually it gets so much easier, but you must not give up.
The Lord wants you to control your thoughts, to use the sound mind He gave you. That means you have to work. He will help you, but you have to do the work.
Again, this is not complex; it is basic psychology that anyone can do as long as they are able to form thoughts at will. It just takes practice. I am not exaggerating or lying. If anyone says “I can’t”, it is because they have quit. I do not mean that unkindly, but it is true. If you can think a thought deliberately, then you can change a thought deliberately. As long as you are conscious and coherent then you can do this. I PROMISE.
7) Understand, again, that the Lord does provide for you. Even the retraining your brain is something He came up with so that we could learn.
You can do this. He will help you. He wants you to be healthy, so He has provided a way. The only barrier will be if you do not use the tools He has given you. You can do this!