The direction of your life begins with the direction of your thoughts. When you realize that every single day your actions, habits and motivations are all the product of your mind, you begin to understand why mental health is so important. In fact, if you’re wanting to change any aspect of your life, you should probably begin with changing your thoughts about it.
In the Cognitive Psychology world there is a pattern of thoughts that have become the framework for how we interpret life called a schema. You have one and I have one. And it’s the mental structure of how our mind automatically translates the events in life going on around us- including in our relationships and in view of our identity. Unfortunately, many of our schemas have been built and shaped by trauma, insecurities, destructive relationships, and other damaging experiences. So many times we see things from our hurts, from our disappointments, from the lies we’ve believed for so long and from all the junk we’ve let into our hearts and minds.
But the good news is that thought patterns can be changed with help and practice. Here are 6 reasons why I believe getting therapy beats trying to do it alone.
When the Bible calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2), I truly believe that practice, therapy and spiritual discipline is where the how part comes in.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness or not, we all should learn how to treat our mind like a temple.
Because the temple is the sacred place where God meets us.
The temple houses the core of who we are.
The temple, our minds and bodies, is something that we live with every single day.
Only we can take responsibility for our own temple.
And I suggest we be on the offense instead of the defense of protecting our mental health because trials are inevitable and you will be tested.
Here are a few ways to start doing just that:
Make it a priority.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Actually, they effect each other. Are you taking time to check in with yourself or have you been running on the never-ending hamster wheel of life and consuming everything that comes your way? Are you constantly letting earthly circumstances disable you spiritually? Many of us just accept our mentalities as what they are and don’t see them as important enough to regularly stop, reflect and realign.
My encouragement to you is to start becoming more self-aware and pay attention to the red flags your mind is sending you. Where is your mind going when it wanders? Is it anxious, hopeless, lustful, suicidal, self-hating and self-shaming, etc? Get to know some of the usual patterns your mind drifts toward and take it seriously because these are the mentalities that are running your life behind the scenes. Like these 5 Mentalities that Keep Holding You Back in Life. You need to start being on the offense about them. Check in with yourself. Honestly assess where you are. Take the time to step back and get your temple in order. That could mean taking a social media hiatus, separating yourself from certain people, talking to a counselor or therapist or practicing a better work-rest life.
Fill it with truth.
The destructive thoughts about ourselves, our relationships and our future can be all too easy to believe when reality doesn’t seem to be positively adding up. But remember that fear is always a liar. It paints a reality that doesn’t exist anywhere but in our feelings to keep us bound. And the last thing the enemy would want is for us to turn to the truth instead because just believing it is all it takes to clear the fog of the lies and tear down the walls holding us back from everything God has called and created us to be.
What does filling your temple with truth look like? It looks like getting on a daily Bible reading plan or routine that keeps your spirit filled. It looks like keeping yourself planted around other individuals who will speak God’s truth into you when you’re lost in the lies of your fears, doubts and insecurities. It looks like attending a solid church that will keep you rooted in the Word weekly. And you might not feel overnight freedom. You may feel great one day and back to square one the next. And that’s okay. This is a journey and it’s lined with both setbacks and victories but ultimately you progress. So remain steadfast in the truth and don’t doubt the progress you’re making.
Surrender your thoughts daily.
Getting our mind right is not about doing more Christian things, but surrendering more of ourselves. So many times our minds are walled-off with guilt, shame, pride, frustration, doubt and we’re relying on so much of our own “Christian” efforts to hold it all together. But if we were honest, our hearts are distant and hardened.
Surrender is the key to breaking down that wall. It’s the thing our flesh fights and needs to embrace the most. With our temple each morning we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, delivering our hearts and minds over to God and letting Him reshape us. Whether that means intentionally setting aside time for personal worship and prayer each morning or calling a friend to pray with you because you just don’t have the strength to do it, at some point we must decide to live from a place of surrender.
Treat it with love and respect.
Some of the conversations we have with ourselves internally would never be appropriate if it was said to another human being out loud. So why do we bash ourselves and accept it? Seeing your mind as the temple is understanding that your mind deserves to be treated with love and respect- even from yourself. You should be in partnership with yourself, not enemies.
That means being gentle with yourself through failures and mistakes and letting it be a learning, growing opportunity rather than a means to attack your identity. It means understanding you are still worthy of love and respect even though you’re flawed. It means working with your thoughts to better understand how you need to seek help rather than hating yourself for having the thoughts you have. You are the temple. Treat yourself as such.
Set necessary boundaries.
Lastly, remember the temple is a sacred place. Not everything should be allowed access and it’s your responsibility to set those boundaries. Here are 10 Things You Need to Let Go of to Have Peace Again. In fact, back in the Old Testament, only the High Priest could enter the temple and even God isn’t going to allow the wicked and perverse into His Kingdom. Keeping the temple sacred means setting appropriate boundaries in place.
That could look like:
- Separating yourself from toxic relationships that are destroying your life.
- Being mindful of the music and films you watch that plant seeds in your behaviors and attitudes.
- Getting to know what is triggering your anxiety, depression, self-harm, lust, etc and talking with a counselor through how to best face or avoid these situations.
- Changing your schedule and becoming responsible for better time management.
I want you to start picturing your mind as a temple and begin treating it as such. That means making your mental health a priority, filling it with truth daily, surrendering your thoughts, treating yourself with respect and setting the boundaries you need. I encourage you to think or journal about what each of these look like in your daily life so it becomes real for you. Information means nothing if you don’t start processing how you can apply it!
Your body is a temple, that includes your mind. Your mind houses your thoughts. Your thoughts run your life. Treat your mind like a temple.
— Brittney Moses (@Brittney_Moses) March 10, 2017
I tweeted on this topic the other week and someone asked me..well how do we treat our mind like a temple? I thought this was great because we have to know what that looks like if it’s going to be real!
Don’t forget, we officially launched the Christian Mental Health account on Instagram for daily inspiration, support and encouragement on topics like this. So feel free to follow along!
What do you think it means to treat your mind like a temple and what did you think of the points above? Let’s chat in the comments below!