IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE BEING DISTORTED BY NEGATIVE THINKING?
Previously, I have covered the topic of learned helplessness (click here), which can be a deadly sin for pastors. Learned helplessness is your brain informing you that your circumstances are too challenging for you to reverse; a mindset that preaches to you that your circumstances cannot change. Resign to your fate in life. If this type of thinking is not held in check, then it morphs into a progressive negative thinking style.
There are three categories of negative thinking. One type is personal, which we discussed in a previous post (click here). The next phase of a negative thinking style is pervasive. Pervasive style of thinking is buying into the belief that everything in life is against you.
With pervasive thinking, negativity now transforms into a set of eyeglasses that creates a new worldview. I can honestly say that I have lived in this negative thinking stage for most of my life in the arena of believing that I had to “earn” God’s love on a daily basis. This incorrect view of God and His amazing grace dominated my mind and my thoughts. I was so wrapped up in seeking to please God and to earn His approval that I was working an insane amount of hours each day, seven days a week. I was literally working for something that I already possessed in Christ, but didn’t realize. This mindset had become so pervasive in my thinking that I was blind to its effect in my life.
What changed? I had a personal coach who helped me see through new lenses, and to own my negative thinking style. What did my coach do? Three things:
First, he helped me to name what was going on in my life. In other words, he assisted me in thinking out loud and getting my thinking style on the “table.” Once I was able to get everything out of my head and onto the “table,” then he helped me see that my thinking style was pervading everything in my life.
Second, he challenged me to explore how this negative, pervasive mindset emerged in my life. I went back to my childhood memories and explored where this mindset originated! What I discovered is that I never received verbal approval from my parents, so I worked hard and relentlessly sought to earn my parents approval. In addition, I had a Boy Scout Master Leader who taught me that anything worth doing is worth doing right, or don’t bother. Within this perfect storm of perfectionistic work ethic emerged the negative thinking style I needed to earn God’s approval as well.
Finally, my coach walked me through confessing my pervasive style of thinking. Part of the confession process includes sharing my story with others. Part of sharing my story with others is to ask them to hold me accountable for not allowing this negative thinking style to reemerge in my life.
Your role is to admit or to own that negative thinking is currently your default setting for viewing life. Confessing is the first step in becoming healthy. Go ahead; admit to yourself that negative thinking has pervaded your life. Now, say it out loud to yourself. Go share your newfound insight with a trusted friend. Seek their insights. Start the journey toward healing and health today?
Ddi you take your first step today by confessing your negative thinking to yourself? If not, what step are you going to take today to challenge your belief that everything in life is against you?