Mental Wellness and an Anxiety Mind
Reframing Mental Health Issues
The mind and the brain are different. Your brain is the organ that is used for thinking. Dr. Adrian Rogers uses the analogy that the brain is like a piano and your mind is the pianist. If you have a wise and skilled mind the brain will have beautiful output. We are called to “have the mind of Christ” and to think on things that true, noble, just, pure, and lovely (Phil 4:8). We are called to have a single-minded devotion. But when so many external distractions and influences are competing for mind space, we neglect to be intentional with this (studying or thinking on things that are true like scripture). We must resist influences like cultural, secular, and unhealthy elements that contaminate our thoughts.
Paul writes in II Corinthians chapter 10: 3-6 about strongholds and arguments that exalt themselves above the knowledge of God. He goes on give us instruction, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” He also tells us in Philippians 4:6 to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. In both instances he tells us “HOW” to manage the negative thoughts.
Paul understood the difficulty of managing the mind. Have you considered how anxious thoughts exalt themselves above the knowledge of God because they are usually fear based in nature? If left unchecked, these negative or unhelpful thoughts and “what if” thoughts develop strongholds. Negative thoughts become internal arguments that cast doubt on truth or cloud truth. Paul instructs us to take these thoughts captive and put them on trial against Christ’s truth. However, if our methodology with God’s word is a more laissez-faire approach toward knowing Christ’s truth then our pianist is a weak player leaving us feeling disconnected and discouraged. Therefore, a single-minded devotion is limited and compromised due to the competing influences.
So how do you manage these anxious thoughts that are promoting anxiety? Here is an activity for developing a wise mind that enables you to capture negative thoughts like Paul wrote about. First, create a jail out of a cardboard box. Yes, get out the scissors or utility knife and create a model jail. Then identify the things or thoughts that exalt themselves over God like, “I’m not good enough” or “My problem is too trivial to bother God with” or “I’ll read a self-help book instead” or “I’ll just listen to a podcast”. Identify the thoughts that want to make excuses for staying in an anxious state like “I don’t have anybody to help” or “Nothing is going to work” or “I’ve asked before and didn’t get an answer”. Write them down. Each one on a separate paper, notecard, or sticky note. Don’t allow them to freely exist and take up head space.
Collect these negative or unhelpful thoughts so they can be put on trial as Paul writes above. Put them in jail and get them out of your head! Then, get into the scriptures and find the truths you need to promote hope, comfort, and peace. Write your scriptures on sticky notes and post them on the outside of your jail covering the anxious thoughts with TRUTH. Going back to the analogy, the pianist must learn to read music and practice playing the cords to get comfortable and familiar with the keys, so melody is produced. You’ll need to begin recognizing anxious thoughts to capture them. More importantly you’ll need to learn to read the scriptures and get comfortable with the language and style of the scriptures to apply them. This—this is being obedient in our walk so we can grow in our knowledge of Christ which produces more accurate or positive thoughts instead of the anxious thoughts. Tune up your piano (brain) with the right tool, the Bible. Because “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16).
o Sticky notes
o note cards or paper to cut strips
o Medium size (shoe box will do)
o Writing tool (pen, marker)
o Scissors or utility knife for cutting paper & box
o Any other decorative art crafts for creative expression
Christa Oberthier, LPC
is a native of East TX, lives in Hallsville, and has a private practice in Longview. Her goal is to minister to the hearts of those hurting providing encouragement & acceptance. She is a Certified Trauma Specialist with an eclectic approach to therapy. including EMDR & expressive art.