Worry, anxiety, envy, anger, frustration, discouragement, self-pity, etc.
Negative attitude affecting thoughts that ruin our days and hurt our relationships.
But it’s just part of life, isn’t it?
Since sin entered the Garden, there have been examples of negativity leading to serious problems.
Most of us have seen the quote:
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
~ Author Unknown
The Bible says it this way:
Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts. Proverbs 4:23 (GNT)
What and how you and I think is critical!
So, I’m turning to Philippians 4, for help…
How to Replace Negativity with the Truth
Don’t worry about anything – Anything! Whew, that’s hard. The best way to reject worry is to…
Instead, pray about everything – When I’m anxious or upset, giving it to God in prayer is the beginning of peace.
Tell God what you need – He knows what you and I need, turning to Him reminds me to surrender to His all-sufficient grace, mercy, and love.
Thank Him for all He has done – Thanking God helps me remember His past faithfulness and blessings. It helps me remember all that He has brought me through which helps me trust Him with my future.
Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand – Peace based on faith, hope, and trust in God’s love. You and I can be confident He will always give us what we need (even if it’s not what we want) now. It’s impossible to understand or explain God’s supernatural peace, but when experience it, we know it is a gift of grace.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus – Which sounds like the perfect antidote to negativity.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Focus your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?
There is something else I find noteworthy about this section of Paul’s letter to the people in Philippi.
He began with…
Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. v. 2
We don’t know what these two women were arguing about, but we do know it was a big enough problem that Paul, who was 800 miles away in Rome, heard about it. And he didn’t read it on Facebook!
Arguing is nothing new. Jealousy, anger, frustration, and fighting are as old as the first brothers, Cain and Abel. But I love that Paul tells them to work it out . . . to settle their disagreement even if they had to agree to disagree. And don’t you love how he tells them to do it…
Then he goes on and tells them to do it…
Quit worrying. Pray—tell God what you need and thank Him for what He has done. Know His peace—a peace that protects your heart and mind.
And keep your thoughts on things that are:
True – Accurate and trustworthy.
Honorable – Building reputations not tearing down.
Right – Fair and just.
Pure – Clean and uncontaminated.
Lovely – Beautiful and pleasant.
Admirable – Respectable and good.
Excellent and Worthy of Praise – Wonderful and God-pleasing.
Now, I’ll admit in our sin-filled world, it seems impossible to keep our thoughts positive 24/7.
We tell ourselves we can’t help it. There’s so much flying by. The news, social media, and gossip-filled phone calls. Reports presented as truth later revealed as being less than accurate. Posts complete with photos of luxurious vacations and super-children that make us envious. And “ain’t it awful” whispers that invite us to judge.
Whew! The temptations are continuous…
So, I’ve made a list of the things I do to change my focus why negativity tanks my mood:
- Admit that I’m Irritable – I won’t change something I don’t acknowledge.
- Stop and Pray – I confess my grumpiness and ask God for help.
- Give Thanks – I list at least 3 blessings for which I’m thankful.
- Remember Thoughts are Just Thoughts – I don’t have to allow a negative thought to become a permanent resident.
- Trash Stinkin’ Thinkin’! – I imagine myself taking the thought and tossing it away.
- Avoid My Triggers – I take intentional breaks from social media, the news, and negative people.
- Clean My Space – I don’t do well with chaos. I don’t like to clean but a neat home always makes me feel better.
- Do Something Positive – I take a break and do something I love – take a bath, play with the dog, call a friend, read a book, etc.
- Think Long-term – I ask myself if this will matter a year from now. Five years. 10.
- Address the Problem – If I can do something about it, I do . . . if not, I need to let it go.
- Do Something for Someone Else – I used to hold babies in the NICU at our local Children’s Hospital. You can volunteer to do something you love, help a friend, send a card or write a note.
- Spend Time with Someone Who Makes You Laugh – I love to laugh! It’s good therapy and it’s a great ab workout too!
The verses after Paul’s words to Euodia and Syntyche and his lead-in to the mood managing verses are:
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon! Philippians 4:4–5 (NLT)
That kind of sums it all up doesn’t it.
I can be full of joy when I remember all the Lord has done and continues to do for me. With God’s help, I can be considerate of others even when life is less than ideal . . . AND when I think about the Lord returning and the promise of heaven; well, nothing else is all that important.
No, it’s not easy. In fact, sometimes it’s kind of satisfying to feel sorry for myself.
But God’s truth challenges me and helps me keep what’s important . . . important. I can ignore the news and confront stinkin’ thinkin’.
What do you do when negativity is ruining your mood?
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