My friend Michelle Nietert shares some excellent tips to help overcome negative beliefs and heal from trauma in this excerpt from her newest book Make Up Your Mind Chapter 1: Counseling Corner.
We create our beliefs, and they evolve from our life experiences—from the messages we receive from others to the sights and sounds that surround us in our digital age. I often counsel women experiencing inner turmoil because they are losing the battle in their minds. Practicing a new consistent thought will create a fresh neurological pathway in our brains that gives that thought more priority. However, forming these new pathways takes dedicated time and practice. When I sit with clients for the first time as they share their story, I listen for thoughts and life themes as they pour out past and current struggles. My first mindset intervention is so subtle they often don’t realize they are shifting. As we talk, I slowly watch them begin to absorb hope that things can change. Combining hope with God’s help enables us to overcome even the most traumatic life events. The first key is to believe in the possibility of transformation: not in self-help “you can do this” mentality, but in a “God is bigger than your problem or situation, and His power works through you” mind shift.
One client shared, “I finally feel hopeful for the first time in two years.” This client began to examine the false beliefs about herself that were making her miserable. Her sabotaging beliefs began to lose their power when she examined them out loud. The heavy load of the past lightens when we break the lies of shame and self-doubt and exchange them for positive truths based on who God says we are.
But how do clients create this freedom? Psychologists call it cognitive behavioral therapy. The Bible describes it as the “renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). When we implement scriptural principles to psychological interventions, we experience Holy Spirit-empowered, life-changing results. This approach begins when we open our eyes each morning and embrace new thoughts. These new thoughts generate new feelings, which then often lead to new behaviors.
I often ask clients, “What do you want to feel when you wake up?” That leads to the next question, “What thoughts would you need to think to feel that way?” With God’s help, we can become the conductor of our own thought train.
Neuroscience studies of brain patterns show that when we think new thoughts, we physically impact our brain. When we believe the good things God’s Word tells us about ourselves, our world, and our God, we can begin to rewire our brains. Isn’t that amazing? What could happen in a year if we retrained our brains daily? Regularly rehearsing biblical perspectives of who we are empowers our faith-based “thought muscles” to become stronger. The result is our brain chemistry changes. We can then enter a maintenance stage, enjoying healthy thoughts and then battling the temptations of negativity almost automatically when life events threaten.
Mindset Movement: Choose one positive biblical thought to embrace about yourself or your life and practice it three times daily. I like using doorways as cues for reciting the new thought to myself as I build new, more positive neuropathways.
Michelle Nietert has been a licensed professional counselor for over 25 years and the coauthor of the award winning book Loved and Cherished: 100 Devotions for Girls along with Make Up Your Mind: Unlock Your Thoughts, Transform Your Life and soon-to-be released God I Feel Sad: Bringing Big Emotions to a Bigger God series. She leads a team of counselors as the clinical director of Community Counseling Associates in the Dallas, TX area. A popular speaker on topics regarding mental health, faith, and parenting, she is a frequent guest on national television and podcasts, including her own “RaisingMentally Healthy Kids.” She and her husband Drew have been married almost two decades with two school-aged children. Connect with Michelle at YourMentalHealthCoach.com.