Transform the Mind
by Gini Crawford, MSW
Anxiety starts in the mind
All anxiety, whether it's reaction or sinful, starts in our minds, so we must start dealing with it there. Think of Job, when he remembers his traumatic experiences he gets anxious (Job 21:6). Since anxiety starts in the mind, it just makes sense that if we change our way of thinking, and if our minds are determined to obey God and not sin - our anxiety will lessen.
Anxiety can play tricks in your minds, so you need to figure out what is giving you anxious thoughts or what is your real anxiety source. This will allow you to think clearly and react appropriately to deal with your anxiety. Examples:
You may think the bad economy is making you anxious but if you think through your feeling, it really is the fear of not having money for the new car you need. If you can pin-point what is really making you anxious, then you can deal with that to get results, and not stay in some nebulous anxiety feeling state.
You need to be aware your anxious thoughts may be from something that is not true, such as believing your mom hates you when she doesn't.
Your anxious feelings may drive you to do things that you will regret, such as yelling at your child or drinking too much wine to calm your nerves.
Ask God to search your mind, to show you exactly what is making you anxious. Then let Him lead-help you to resolve what is making you anxious. Sometimes I just feel anxious and really don't know why. Can you relate? When I go to God instead of just stewing about my anxious feeling, He always helps my mind to realize the source. So I can trust Him with the worry or fear.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV
God's Word will transform our minds
As a Christian, how do we change or transform our minds to calm our anxieties? God's Word! When our minds are grounded in God's Word, this will allow our minds to be transformed into His way of thinking about the world and its disquieting and fearful influence.
Do not be shaped by [conformed to; pressed into a mold by] this world; instead be changed within [transformed] by a new way of thinking [or changing the way you think; the renewing of your mind]. Then you will be able to decide [discern; test; approve] what God wants for you... Romans 12:2 EXB
Having our minds transformed by God's Word makes us able to know and discern His will for us which is His peace for us, not the world's fearful thoughts or lies. Jesus is very clear that only through Him can you find true peace in our heart (mind).
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid... John 14:27 NIV
John 14:27 paraphrased by me: Through Jesus your heart (mind) will be untroubled, undisturbed, absence of fear, and surrounded by His peace. In the world, your heart (mind) will naturally be fearful, troubled, stirred up, disturbed or disquieted.
Knowing God's Word will allow our minds to filter out the world's lies that make us anxious, and to replace them with God's truth that gives us wisdom, hope and peace of mind. When our minds are busy thinking godly thoughts, it will get our minds off what is scaring us, worrying us, stressing us, or putting us in a panic.
What is floating around in my head and making me anxious now is, what is happening from the coronavirus, my country's economic outlook and the unrest in my country. What I need to be thinking is, "God tells me in Proverbs 3 to trust Him even when things seem or look bad. He is in control. He has a plan of welfare and hope for my family and me, even if we get sick or don't have the resources we need." (Jeremiah 29:11-13). This godly thought makes me feel encouraged and optimistic instead of anxious.
If you are being counseled for anxiety, your counselor will probably tell you to do exercises that relax you, and to meditate on things that give you tranquility. Here are some practical ideas on how to calm your anxious thoughts:
Stop harsh physical responses from anxiety by relaxed breathing, and relaxing your muscles.
When you're feeling anxious, you might notice that your heart rate and breathing can get faster, and you may begin to sweat. Your muscles can also get tense. When you're anxious, consciously getting your breathing under control and relaxing your muscles can relax both your body and mind. Take deep breathes to relax. Tense then relax various muscle in your body.
Interrupt your anxious thinking by meditating, memorizing and forgiveness.
Meditating on Bible verses that encourage you, lets your mind be focused on God's truth instead of your troubles. Memorizing definitely plants God's Word in your mind as a replacement for your anxious thoughts. Asking God to forgive your sin and then consciously recognizing you are forgiven will bring peace of mind.
I have found if I am willing to study or memorize a Bible passage the Holy Spirit will use it to calm my anxious thoughts. Read Psalm 119:11, 105, 143, 153, 165, 143:10; Jeremiah 29:11-13; Zechariah 4:6-7; John 14:25-27. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to Bible verses that will calm your anxious thoughts. God doesn't want us anxious!
Meditate on your favorite verse from the reading list above for a few minutes.