Cultivate Gratitude and Positive Self-Talk
Create a positive internal dialogue to combat the negative thoughts and influences in your life. I find that speaking truth, even when it doesn’t feel true is still beneficial. Joyce Meyers speaks to this a bit in her book Me and My Big Mouth. This is something I have just begun to work on the past few years. Begin memorizing truths from the bible that apply directly to your situation. In the beginning just pick a couple, and recite them to yourself whenever you find your mind wandering into negative territory (or stinking thinking as my dad calls it). If needed, write them on cards, or posters and place them in locations throughout your home.
A favorite of mine is Jeremiah 29:11
“I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Other examples include:
Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not afraid for I am your God, I will strengthen you and give you help and uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Psalm 46:5 “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”
I love that last one in particular because it uses a feminine pronoun. I know that it is referring to the city of Jerusalem, but I have found it of particular comfort personally. Have many times have we moms been up until the wee hours of the morning feelings tired, and desperate just waiting the sun to rise? Next time that happens to you, think of this verse.
Gratitude is a wonderful defense against depression and anxiety. It took me way too many years to realize this.
“Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and petition, with THANKSGIVING present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
The peace comes, not just because we present our requests to God, but because we do it with Thanksgiving. Count you blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done. That song isn’t just for kids, it’s good for us too.
I love the song we sometimes sing here at NC4 by Graham Kendrick, we actually chose it to use during my son’s dedication, Lord You’ve been God to Me.
Lord you’ve been good to me, all my life, all my life.
Your loving kindness never fails.
I will remember all you have done.
Bring from my heart, Thanksgiving songs.
New every morning is your love.
Filled with compassion from above.
Grace and forgiveness full and free.
Lord you’ve been good too me.
What I love about that song is how it starts by declaring God’s goodness in the past as well as the present. All our pasts, be they filled with good or bad and most of us a little of both, have examples of the blessings of God. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now. Grab onto those things from the past and use them as anchors of gratitude. Then look forward to the future and remember that the same God who brought you blessing in the past will bring you through your present difficulties, “new everything morning is your love, filled with compassion from above,” He has been and will continue to be good to us, if only through the power of his grace and forgiveness. If you feel like you have nothing else to hold onto, remember that you are a loved and forgiven daughter of the most high God. Even in the lowest of pits, in the deepest of depressions, nothing can separate you for the love of God.
I’ve read about women who construct a large tree out of construction paper and tape it the to the wall. Nearby is a large stack of paper leaves (these can often be bought pre-made during the fall season). Write things you are grateful for on those leaves, as often as you think of them, and add them to the tree. This can be a great activity to do with your kids or even just for yourself, giving you visual reminders of all that you have to be grateful for.
I also recommend a practice called high lights and low lights. Verbally acknowledge one of two major difficulties or low points in your day but make sure to counter them with the best of your day. This helps prevent a downward spiral of negativity and gives us a more balanced perspective on our lives. This can be a good family dinner table activity, or just something you do quietly alone with God.
Please read on in Part III