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  • Writer's pictureDawn Ward

Do You Need a Mindset Makeover?

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3 CSB

Do you struggle habitually with negative thoughts? Are you in need of a mindset makeover? If so, you are not alone! I grew up hearing and repeating the negative words spoken to and around me. My mom, by nature was what you might call a Negative Nellie. She looked at the glass as more than half empty. Her sister, on the other hand, was a hoot. She looked at the glass as overflowing.

While one faced life with gusto, the other did so with dread. In defense of my mother, I should point out she had a more stressful life and an unhappy marriage. My aunt, while not without her share of stress, had a devoted husband. She was always the life of the party and was born with a perpetual smile on her face. I fall somewhere in the middle, although being the firstborn child of a father who drank heavily, I tend to lean towards having a negative mindset.

I admire people who have a zest for life, ones who find joy in the simplest pleasures. While some have a happy-go-lucky mindset because of their hard-wiring, others choose to take a positive outlook despite often exceedingly difficult life circumstances. If you are like me, one who easily slips into a negative mindset, there is hope. You don't have to stay stuck in stinking thinking. As believers, the Lord offers tools found in the Bible for renewing our minds.

"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2 CSB

Why Do I Have Negative Thoughts?

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way. Psalms 139:23-24 CSB

Why is it we as believers know how we should think, but have such a hard time doing it? We try to erase negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones, but it's only a matter of time before we slip back into being a Debbie Downer. Before we can change or renew our mindset, it's important to first address the Four W's of Negative Thinking: When, Who, Where, and Why?

When? Think back to your childhood. Were you a happy child? Did adults speak positively or negatively when you were around? As a teenager, was your social environment positive or negative? Did you have a positive or poor self-image? As an adult, consider your workplace and home life; is it hostile or friendly? Today, society and social media play large parts in how we see the world and others. Advertisers, influencers, politicians, journalists, world and local news, and self-ordained experts bid for our attention. Let's face it… bad news sells better than good news any day. We tend to gravitate towards the bad reports we hear and read. Freedom from toxic thoughts is possible, but first we need to take a walk down memory lane and explore the hidden reasons negativity took our minds hostage.

Who? Ask the Lord to reveal to you when you first believed lies that others spoke over you. Was it a parent who failed to affirm your worth, but instead criticized and labeled you as less than? Perhaps they abandon you altogether, leaving you feeling unworthy and disposable. Maybe a sibling or childhood bully ridiculed you. Her sneering taunts left permanent scars on your already fragile ego. For some, it was a friend's betrayal that started you on a path of pessimism.

Where? Do you find that certain environments or locations trigger toxic thinking? Do you dread getting up and going to work in the morning? Do you hate going to the gym? When you go to church, are you surrounded by back-biters and gossipers? Do you feel judged or frowned upon by others? Do family reunions cause undue stress and stir up old feelings of rejection?

Why? Consider why these people, places, and things play such an important role in how you look at life. When you begin to examine the roots of your negative thinking, it may appear as though you are at risk of doing more harm than good, but knowing why they affect you the way they do is critical if you hope for lasting freedom.

If you are having a hard time overcoming rejection, read this blog from The Faith to Flourish, Living with Rejection.

How to Pray Against and Defeat Negative Thoughts

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, LORD, my rock and my Redeemer." Psalms 19:14 CSB

Now that you are aware of the causes, it is important to recognize if you have a problem with negativity. Do dismal thoughts creep in occasionally, when you are tired or over-worked, or are they constantly doing siege warfare on your mind? Here are some steps I found helpful in overcoming negative thinking.

1. Pray for a desire to change the way you think. As you pray, note if any negative thinking is infiltrating your prayer time. "Why should I pray? God doesn't hear me, anyway." "Praying doesn't help. So and So will never change." "I am tired of praying and never receiving answers. I give up!" Ask the Lord to reveal to you why you have negative thoughts during your prayer time. Confess to him if you are doubting his love or ability to answer your prayers. Determine to trust in him and his plan, no matter how long you must wait for the answer. Pray for increased faith and patience while you wait.

"Therefore, confess your sins one to another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect." James 5:16 CSB

2. Journaling is helpful when processing negative thoughts. As you pray, write your prayer and note any negative thoughts you are experiencing. Then go back and examine your thoughts. Are they true or false? Do they contradict what the Word of God says about you or your situation? Do they reveal a root of bitterness or unforgiveness in your life? Determine to not excuse these negative thoughts away, but ask the Lord to replace your false thoughts with his truth in the areas in which you struggle.

"The Lord answered me: Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it." Habakkuk 2:2 CSB

3. Renew your mind through study the Bible and memorization of scriptures. Let's face it…garbage in, garbage out. As you read, pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you lies you believe that have set up strongholds in your mind. It may be evil reports from others or the news that have corrupted your faith. Diligently seek the truth as you seek to rid your mind of wrong thinking.

"For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 CSB

4. Identify negativity triggers. Stress, poor diet, health issues, and lack of rest all play a big part in how we think and feel. Also, remember you are the company you keep. Hanging out with negative people has a contagious effect on our thinking. Consider who you are spending time with and what you are listening to or reading on social media and television.

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Colossians 3:2 CSB

5. Confess any negative thoughts or words each time they pop up. Once you learn to recognize wrong attitudes or speech, it is important to not let it slide. We are fighting a spiritual battle when we face the stronghold of a negative mindset.

"For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 CSB

6. Practice Gratitude. Gratitude does wonders for giving us a more positive attitude and ridding us of pessimistic thoughts and feelings. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to start a new gratitude jar. Why not include notes of thankfulness and praise as you catch yourself renewing your thoughts, words, and attitude? Begin and end each day with five minutes of thankfulness and praise. I guarantee it will transform your thought-life.

"Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 CSB

7. Think Happy Thoughts. Like I wrote earlier, negativity has a strong gravitational pull on our thoughts. Choosing to be happy and think positively takes effort. We don't have to change only by sheer will and determination, though. The Lord promises to help us in the renewal process.

"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy – dwell on these things." Philippians 4:8 CSB

For help on how to keep a positive attitude when life is messy and hard, this blog I wrote on The Faith to Flourish offers some biblical advice and help. How to Keep the Faith in the Middle of Your Mess.

How to Pray for Toxic People in Your Life

Negative people will always come across our paths. We have the choice to get mad at them, get even with them, ignore them, or pray for them. But how do you pray for them when just the mention of their name sends a chill down your spine?

First, you must be willing. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies, so when there is a will, there is a way. Ask him to make you willing to pray for that person who hurt you. If they don't know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, pray for their salvation. If they are unrepentant about the harm they caused you, pray that the Lord will convict them and lead them to ask Him (and possibly you) for forgiveness. Pray they will grow in the knowledge of His word and will walk accordingly. Remember that praying for them does not mean you have to put up with physical abuse. You can pray from a safe distance. It also does not necessarily mean you are required to reconcile with the offender. Simply begin praying for them and see what the Lord leads you to do next.

If you would like some additional help with how to have difficult conversations with toxic or difficult people in your life, check out this blog, Having Difficult Conversations: How to Reason with Unreasonable People.

"But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." Luke 6:27-28 CSB

A Prayer to Overcome Negative Thoughts

In closing, commit to pray regularly to overcome negative thought patterns. In your quiet time, the Lord will heal past and present hurts, release areas of rejection and regrets, and renew your mind. May this prayer guide you as you begin your journey to a more positive and healthier mindset.

Dear Jesus.

Thank you for identifying strongholds in my mind that keep me from living to my full potential. I confess that negative thinking has taken my mind hostage and kept me from living a life of faith that is free from shame, guilt, worry, and fear. I have allowed outside voices and influences to take my thoughts captive and ignored the damage they have caused in my life and relationships. Lord of All Truth, I confess wrong thinking in the areas of _________ (list areas). You tell us in 1 Peter 5:8 to be sober-minded and alert because our adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone to devour. I acknowledge he has caught me off guard and attacked my mind with negativity that I left unchecked. Please forgive me for my apathy in guarding my heart and mind. I choose to be alert and sober-minded as you renew and transform my thinking. In Jesus' name, I reject the lies of the enemy and stand on the Word of Truth.


Woman thinking
"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2 CSB

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