Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Stinkin' Thinkin' - A Life Crippling Condition

Summary: Saw this article today about identifying the crippling life perspective known as "stinkin' thinkin'," and it got me thinkin'. Here's the article: If it describes you, read on....

Let me say first and foremost that I hurt for those folks who, through a combination of a lot of factors, suffer from what many counselors have dubbed "stinkin' thinkin'." It is a paralyzing mental perspective that colors the majority of life events in a negative, dysfunctional, often destructive way. I have told so many folks that the older I get, and the more people I meet, talk with, minister to, etc., the more I'm convinced that 99% of our happiness is based not on our circumstances, but on how we mentally process and respond to those circumstances.

Scriptures command us to dwell on the positive (Phil. 4:8), not to worry about anything (Phil. 4:6; Matt. 6:34), to do everything WITHOUT complaining or arguing (Phil. 2:14), to speak only what is helpful (Eph. 4:29), etc. I'm not saying that altering one's thinking patterns is easy, but I do believe that it is one of the primary ways (if not the primary way) that we experience God's will for our lives. I do believe that Scripture speaks to the dangers of negative thinking.

I am writing to offer encouragement and hope to anyone who lives in a continuing state of negative life processing because I have witnessed transformation among people who finally had enough of making life (which is already difficult) even more difficult by seeing so much in an overly negative light. Sure, we can't be pie-in-the-sky, out-of-touch-with-reality, happy-go-lucky, disconnected from reality optimists. I do believe, however, that our Father expects his children to be biblical, obedient, faithful, joyful optimists. Yes, you can experience depression, frustration, etc., as temporary experiences (God has promised to bring good out of those times, too), but what life perspective guides you? How does your particular life perspective affect those around you? Your spouse? Your children? How does it affect your witness for Christ?

Romans 12:1,2 warns us not to be conformed to the patterns of this world (patterns like materialism, selfishness, and may I dare add "pessimism?"), but to "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 12:1,2)

Are you suffering from thinkin' stinkin'? How can you tell? Pray about it. Are you being obedient to those Scriptures that address your thought life? Ask someone who loves you what they think. More importantly, ask your Father what He thinks about you! (He made you in His image; sent His Son to die to adopt you as His child; has given you the opportunity to join Him in His redemptive purposes of adopting others into His Family; etc.)

Take whatever steps needed to begin the journey to a higher (even more realistic) view of Our Father, reality, and yourself. You went to school to learn things to help you live life, right? Perhaps God wants you to go back to school to make Romans 12:1,2 more of a reality in your daily have a renewed mind that thinks, acts, decides, etc., more and more like Jesus Christ and less and less like the world. Life is too important to give up or give in to the way it's always been.

Find a counselor (take your time to find a good one), who can help you take steps to doing life differently. Don't just try harder to be positive; get back to the truth of Scripture; re-connect with a community of faith; re-evaluate your relationships (do you have any positive friends to help challenge your negative attitudes?); just don't settle for life as is. Christ died to give us an abundant life, not an easy, comfortable one, but one of love and purpose, but the catch is it has to be His way, not ours, and definitely not the world's.

The first step is being honest about your attitudes. I found this article today that outlines classic symptoms of stinkin' thinkin'. If it describes you, don't give up or give in. Take that first step to a better way of doing life...Christ's way! The article:

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