“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2 NKJV
If I were to be a “professional” counselor, I can guarantee I would be one who uses what is called “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” on a regular basis. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is where you focus on changing negative thought patterns in order to change unwanted behaviors. I totally believe you cannot consistently or completely change behaviors unless you address the thinking behind them. Then I realized and said to myself, “Well, duh!” CBT is exactly what I use in my working with people, only I refer to it as being “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” While those in the professional field have expanded on the concept and have created various methods and means to implement CBT, it was God’s idea first! Nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), it’s all just repackaged. So, whether you call it CBT or “renewing the mind,” it all boils down to this: if you want long-lasting change in your life and in your behaviors, you have to change the way you think. This is true for all sorts of behaviors, habits and strongholds, but it is an absolute necessity if you are going to be free from the grip of anxiety.
I shared previously about being mindful of your present circumstances, the emotions that are being stirred up and the thoughts that are formulated as a result. Then, I explained about learning to take those thoughts captive and hold them up against truth, God’s truth and general truth. The question is what truth am I using as my gauge? General truth is a good bit easier. There is typically fact and/or science to back it up. Rattlesnakes are dangerous. If I’m a diabetic, I need to monitor my sugar. Physical death is inevitable for all of us. I know these things or I can research and learn about them. Spiritual truth and truth that comes from my own perspective is a bit more difficult. While there is absolutely spiritual truth, it is more easily distorted and confused by my own perception and conclusions, what others have told me or what I have come to believe because of what was done to me or what I have experienced. Of course, let’s not forget the devil and his endless attempts to twist God’s truth and cause me to be confused and doubt. He’s not called the father of lies for nothing! This is why renewing the mind is critical if I want to truly be free and stay free from the many things that can hold me mentally, emotionally and spiritually hostage. Anxiety is tough, addictions create havoc and abusive behavior of any kind is unacceptable, but these behaviors are only the symptoms of what is going on inside a person and are primarily the result of a faulty belief system. If you want to change the person and the behaviors, you have to change what they believe.
When I first entered into professional counseling, I had no idea how messed up I was!!! Now, I knew something was not “right” and was always working to “fix” myself as a woman, wife and mother but those efforts were only focused on the exterior with very little emphasis on the inside. Naturally, very little changed which only led to more frustration and further disappointment with myself. Counseling helped me to discover what the real culprit was, my thought processes coming up out of a very faulty belief system. I needed to figure out what I REALLY believed to be true about myself, about God and His Word and my view of life. At the direction of my counselor, I started with myself. Through a homework exercise, I discovered there was not one thing, not ONE SINGLE THING, I liked about myself or that I saw in a positive light. Everything was either wrong or, at best, needed improvement. I moved on to my view of God and what I believed to be true about Him, His Word and the way He viewed me. Again, I was shocked! My view of God was just as distorted as my view of myself. Even the truth I did know as head knowledge, I could not accept as true for myself. I knew some of what the Bible said about God, but I personally viewed Him as distant, uninvolved and harsh. I could speak the truth that God is a forgiving God but never fully believed that to be true for me. As for what I believed about life, well, I believed things like people couldn’t be trusted and only the smartest, most talented, popular, wealthiest, etc. people would end up successful and happy in life. Obviously, I had a lot of work to do!
Just like me, if you want to truly be free from anxiety or other strongholds in your life, it all starts with your belief system. Think of your belief system as a foundation, like you have when building a house. If the foundation is off, even just a little bit, everything built on top of that faulty foundation will cause the entire structure to be off. When that happens in construction, everything has to be scrapped and you have to start over, beginning with a new foundation. It’s the same with our belief system. If it’s off, we have to scrap it and start fresh with a new foundation of truth. I don’t want to be discouraging but honest. Tearing down a faulty belief system and laying a new foundation of truth takes time, energy and determination. It’s sometimes just downright hard work! But I promise you, from my own experience and from having the privilege to see it happen in the lives of others through the years, IT’S WORTH IT!!!