Reframe Your Thoughts

While studying Social Work, we learned quite a bit about the term, “Reframing.”  Cognitive reframing is a psychological technique that consists of identifying and then disputing irrational, maladaptive (dysfunctional) thoughts. Reframing is a way of viewing and experiencing events, ideas, concepts and emotions to find more positive alternatives.  In cognitive therapy it’s also referred to as cognitive restructuring.

History

Aaron T. Beck developed cognitive therapy in the 1960s. Beck worked with patients that had been diagnosed with depression, and found that negative thoughts would come into minds of these patients. Beck helped his patients recognize the impact of their negative thoughts, and aided them in shifting their mindset to think more positively—eventually lessening or even getting rid of the patient’s depression. This process was termed cognitive restructuringthe main goal of which was to rethink negative thoughts and turn them into positive thoughts[1]

 

I LOVE listening to Dr. Caroline Leaf.  She has written books about how our thoughts affect (Who Switched off My Brain?: Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions).  She has stated, “God is the Creator of the Universe and is the Author of Science…The study of Science is therefore the study of God’s handiwork and is a way of admiring His Creation.”

While holding an actual photo of the brain, Dr. Leaf, pointed out a very toxic memory. It was a dark black one that looked like a tree with many, many branches. She explained that toxic memories have all the wrong chemicals and they cause a toxic reaction in the body.

The first and most advantageous point of control is when the thought is initially introduced to us. It’s at that point that we can make a decision to accept or reject the information. It was also interesting to me to hear Dr. Leaf explain how this process of free will was built right in to us through genetic code by the Creator Himself.

“There is a point in your brain called the “free will” and it is a genetic structure, there is genetic code. You can use that free will to accept or reject that incoming information. So if you are controlling your thought life, you don’t have to just receive all of this input that is coming in from the outside world, from the media, from external and also from your internal world; we’ve got a lot of existing toxic memories in our head, everything from birth to death is stored in your brain. So you’re going to have information coming from the outside, information from the inside and it all meets at this point of the free will in the brain. You can make a decision at that point to accept or reject that information. If you decide this is not good for me and you actually analyze that thought and say, this is not good for me, this is not healthy. You can reject that thought and it goes out and becomes heat energy. It actually becomes hot air and it doesn’t become part of you. But if you choose to think about it, if you choose to meditate on that, if you choose to ask, answer, discuss, analyze to give meaning, you push it into these memory trees of the mind, into the memory circuits and once they’re there, they are there for good. Once they’ve moved into what the neuro-scientists call the magic trees of the mind, once they’re there, they’re there for good, you can’t get rid of them. Then you’ve got to rebuild, that’s the renewing of the mind. Much more difficult to rebuild than it is to reject.”
~ Dr. Caroline Leaf

The second point of control is after the thought has already been accepted. Dr. Leaf says that if thoughts slip through into our brain and become toxic, we need to start the rebuilding process. What it boils down to is a renewing of the mind process just like the Word of God says. We must think on things that are good, pure, of good report. God didn’t say that for no reason! As I observed in a recent post, How Healthy Meditation Can Make Us Successful, God’s Word teaches us that proper meditation will cause us to prosper and succeed, and it will add joy to our life.

Dr. Leaf says that the medical community and the scientific community (neuro-scientists and neuro-researchers) agree. They have proven that if we think healthy, positive, good thoughts, we release chemicals in our brain that actually go down to those negative toxic memories and start literally helping to dissolve them and actually help change the structure of that memory so that we can grow a new healthy memory over the old toxic one.

Toxic waste generated by toxic thoughts causes the following illnesses: diabetes, cancer, asthma, skin problems and allergies to name just a few.   (Stress, tension….trickle effect from mind down to body).

BUT As Christians we have authority over our thoughts and we have the mind of Christ:

  1. We are told to “Hold Our Thoughts Captive”:

Cor. 10:3-8 (NKJV) “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christand being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.  Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s.[a] For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us[b] for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed

  1. We are taught to “Renew Our Minds”:

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,[a]acceptable to God, which is your [b]spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this [c]world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may[d]prove what the will of God is, that which is good and[e]acceptable and perfect.

 

  1. We should continually examine our thoughts:

Does it line up with God’s thoughts (the Bible)? If not, then cast down your own thoughts and think God’s thoughts instead.

As Christians we also have a new spiritual wisdom: 

1 Cor. 2:And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony[a] of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human[b] wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”[c]

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy[d] Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”[e] But we have the mind of Christ.

When we first moved to Western Washington from Southeast Idaho, I complained about the price of our apartment.  Most of my friends back in Idaho were paying the same amount for their mortgages on newly built homes as we were paying for rent on a 2 bedroom apartment.  I “could not” be content…until I CHOSE to be.  One night when I couldn’t sleep I turned on the T.V.  There was a television program I was watching (I think it was “Life Today” with James & Betty Robison) that showed young families living in total filth, they had no clean water, no plumbing in their home, they were eating small amounts of food if any, etc.  I looked around at our comfy, clean apartment that had running water, indoor plumbing and even a gas fireplace and for the first time, I felt rich.  God helped me change my perspective.  Over the years, I have had to remind myself to simply put on my “rose colored glasses” and see my circumstances through new eyes.

1 Thesselonians 5 (AMP):

16 Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always);

17 Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly];

18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

 

2 Timothy 1:7  For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and sound (well-balanced)  mind and discipline and self-control.
Gets your eyes off yourself, focus on God (refocus) and others!

Philippians 2:3-4  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Acts 20:35: In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

By Faith We Understand Hebr. 11:11

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

 

I pray this blesses you as much as it did me.

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I’m a Proud Parent of a B- student

I am blessed to parent two beautiful, talented and smart girls. When my oldest was born, we were in a new city, I was a stay-at-home mom and this baby girl was my world. It felt to me like she was completing all of the baby “milestones” ahead of time. So, I always told my husband (until we would laugh at my confidence in her), “She’s advanced!” She grew to be such a smart girl. She was reading Dr. Seuss books by four-years-old. I had friends compliment me on how smart she is. She’s a real “brainiac,” one would say. “She is going to be at the top of her class.” Teachers always had nothing but good to say about her, they all loved her.  She continued to excel in everything she did. She truly had God’s favor on her life. She would always come home with “4’s” or “E’s” (for Excellent) on her report card. She was in the Excel program at her private Christian school and then in the Advanced Placement “Challenge” program once we moved her to public school. She continued in some AP classes in junior high/middle school.

I never felt like I was a “pushy” or overbearing parent, especially in terms of grades and homework.  But, let’s admit it.  I loved being the parent of such a smart and talented child.

And then, life happened. We had another baby when she was 7-years-old and I grew busier.  She had been continuously bullied from 4th grade on. She had bullies all through elementary and junior high. She had some other unfortunate events that took place during those years that sent her on a downward spiral. She began to lack self-esteem and confidence. School began to be more of struggle at times. She lost the desire to go to school and the loss of the desire and excitement to learn. She began to be experience bouts of depression. Then came the panic attacks. We didn’t know what to do. This was not the “vision” or the “dream” we had for our daughter’s life. This was not the top of the class, “A” student, class leader that she once was. This was a struggling teenager who had become someone else. She closed off her emotions, she wouldn’t talk to me or her dad much of the time. She began to spend endless hours alone in her room with the door closed, the lights off and slept all the time.  One day I found her in the fetal position, curled up in a ball on the floor of her bathroom sobbing.

I had talked to her about going to the doctor or a counselor and possibly even trying medication. She refused for such a long time.  I don’t know if it was shame and embarrassment or what.  But, finally, one day she agreed.  We saw a medical doctor that would actually consider an anti-depressant / anti-anxiety medication for a teenager (because some wouldn’t agree to it).  The doctor suggested we treat this holistically: deal with every aspect of her well-being (spiritual, emotional, physical and mental).  She was put on medication, she began to see a professional counselor, we moved her to a new school in a different school district.  Eventually she began to focus on what she was eating and her sleeping habits.

At the same time we were dealing with our oldest daughter’s “issues,” our youngest began to have severe stomach issues.  I had to take her to the doctor, allergists, G.I. specialists.  She was missing so much school.

Then, one day I got a call from my oldest’s school informing me she was flunking a class (or two, I can’t even remember now, it is all sort of a blur).  Then, seriously moments later I got notice my youngest would not be allowed back at her school because she had missed too many days.  To top of that crappy moment in life, my friend unknowingly came up to me and began to boast about how well her children were doing.  She told me her children just got their report cards and were getting straight A’s, one was on the honor roll or in National Honor’s Society.  I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown.

Shortly after, I gave my notice at work.  I knew I HAD to focus primarily on my children.  Our lives had become too complicated and too rushed.

Slowly, but surely things began to improve for both of our girls, but especially our oldest.  She found a new joy in choir and then tried out for and made show choir.  This new passion gave her a new desire and drive to be at school and to more than function on a daily basis.  There were set backs here and there.  We had to have her medication changed at one point.  Her counselor moved, so she had to basically start over with another one (that has been a total and complete blessing).  She still got overwhelmed with school work, so eventually we were able to get her on a 504 plan.  (Her school, counselors, teachers have been wonderfully helpful and usually very patient and understanding 🙂

We now have a daughter that will sit and talk with us. Sometimes for hours.  She opens up about her life, her struggles, her fears and her dreams and desires for the future.  She has started volunteering at our church, even going on a missions trip to Mexico.  Seeing others who weren’t having their basic needs being met was an eye opener.  Her confidence has grown by leaps and bounds.  She is truly the strongest, bravest person I know.  She is not ashamed of her “diagnosis.”  She has seen it as an opportunity to empathize with others.  She still has such high standards and expectations for herself.  But, she is also honest with herself.

As for grades.  We care, but we don’t.  We encourage her to do HER best.  We encourage her to use the gift that God has given her and to follow her passions.  Right now, she loves performing.  She was just part of a wonderful high school musical production that she was GREAT in!!  While watching her, it was like I was watching someone else.  Maybe more like a friend who I was proud of.  It sort of felt like an out-of-body experience at times.  I know part of this was because years ago, I truly had to fully surrender and give her to God.  I couldn’t hold on so tight anymore.  I had to let her slowly start letting her go.

As the last show came to an end on Sunday night and then Monday morning I woke up and realized my baby was now 17-years-old…I became emotional.  I just kept thinking, “She is growing into such a beautiful, talented, smart, funny and wonderful young lady.”  She has actually exceeded any expectations I ever had of her.  I could not have dreamed this.  My shy (but yes, smart) girl who was at time an introverted, then stressed, panicked, fearful, and depressed young person who could not get out of bed to go to school, was soaring on stage as one of the leads in a high school musical.  What?!?

I’m sure life will continue to throw us curveballs from time to time.  But, I know we can handle whatever is thrown at us.  I have truly surrendered any of my dreams, expectations or desires for her life and have tried to be there as a support and advocate.  She’s even letting me slowly let go of those reigns.  Which is hard!

Now, I just try to be there for her.  When she wants to talk or vent, I try to listen (and shut my mouth, which is hard).  I of course give advice or the wisdom I can give when I feel like it’s needed.  Having a supportive, wonderful husband and father to my girls who is my total partner in this adventure is a blessing that I cannot even express in words.

So, when the report cards get ready to come out (once again), we just focus on areas that can be improved, but really continue to focus on the future, what is on her heart for her future.  Life is crazy.  To think that I would be excited with B- or or okay with some C+ grades is almost laughable to me.  But, I just see a happy, healthy girl and think, “What else can a mom hope for?”

Be blessed,

Kellie