What’s your view on life? Whether we enjoy life and have peace, or have fears, anxiety, stress and worry, will be dictated by how we view our situation, ourselves and most importantly how we view God. Cognitive therapy asserts that people’s thoughts and perceptions of events strongly influence their emotions and behaviors. As an integrated Cognitive therapist, I believe a focus on thinking is important (but not to the exclusion of feelings, emotions, behaviors and spirituality). These quotes state the idea well:
“We are the product of our thinking, so it is important that we choose carefully where to focus our mental energy.” Dr. Charles Stanley
“Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the view they take of them.” Epictetus
“For as a man thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7
Jesus said in John 16:33 “In this life you WILL have TROUBLE!” And you, like I, probably think: WOW what an understatement! Dealing with all that “trouble” can be difficult, if not overwhelming sometimes. But how we view certain aspects of life certainly can help us deal with the problems and stresses this life throws at us that Jesus was speaking of. I Peter tells us to “prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled” (1 Peter 1:13) and to “â€¦ be clear minded and self-controlled” (1 Peter 4:7-8). The New Testament is full of encouragement for us to use our minds, be self controlled, to examine ourselves and to use sober judgment. We need to focus on our thinking; how we give meaning and perceptions to the events and circumstances in our lives.
How do you view your Situation?
How do we look at the circumstances and events that happen to us in life? Is it always a lesson to be learned, or one to be unlearned? Is God trying to teach us something? Is there inherent purpose in this situation? God would have us remember that he is always at work around us! That He is a Sovereign God and that we can trust Him! He is Jehovah Shamma-the Lord who is there-He will never leave, never forsake us. Making a determined decision of our will to change our attitude regarding the circumstances that come about in our lives can definitely lead to a healthier mind. We control our attitude; we have the power to change it if we decide to- and this is a biblical principle-“to be made new in the attitude of your minds” (Eph 4:23). So the next time the car breaks down, another trip to the emergency room happens, the kids disrespect you, your spouse criticizes you or the boss threatens your job security, how will you view it? Ask yourself when difficult situations come around: Is this in my circle of control (can I really do something to change this?) or is it in my circle of concern? If it is not in our control, give it to God!
How do you view Yourself?
The next view within difficult occurrences in our lives is: how do we view ourselves within the trouble? Do we rely on our God given strengths and abilities, our confidence? Do we believe we have the power to influence? Do we believe what God says about us? The Bible has a lot to say about those who are Christ followers. In Christ I am: a child of God, a friend of Jesus, justified and redeemed, not condemned, accepted, set free, chosen and loved. I am loved unconditionally and forgiven completely!
Do I have Healthy Self Esteem? Do I compare myself positively with others, or do I tend to evaluate myself as superior/inferior to others? Healthy self esteem has a realistic self appraisal, with the attitude that you are equal to others, not inferior, not superior. This is a confidence that comes from being accepted by God. In the midst of distressing events, will I believe and be confident in the abilities and gifts God has given me, and who I am in Christ?
How do you view God?
The 3rd view of our situations and events in our lives is to remember God-Who he is, and what he promises. How do you view God within the troubles that come in life? God’s word has much to say about this. “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? (Jer 32:26-28). “I am God Almighty..” (Gen 17:1). God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb 13:5). “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jer 31:3). The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made (Ps 145:8-9). Will you believe who He says He is and what He says He can do? Will you accept what He says about you? If God is almighty, and he is FOR us, will never leave us and we are chosen to be loved by him, can I trust him in ALL the circumstances in my life?
How we decide, and with what attitude we look at the events and situations in our life can drastically affect how we feel about life in general. When we see our lives as purposed and designed by God we can trust and be confident that even though hard times come God is there, he cares and will give us everything we need to be “more than a conqueror.” We can’t forget the “but” in John 16:33. “In this life you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”