According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” Interestingly, the WHO is not a Christian organization, however, we can see this clearly illustrated for us in the Bible.In Ephesians 4, Paul unfolds God’s marvelous plan of using people to carry out His purposes on earth, “by the proper working of each individual part.” God has created each of us with a divine sense of purpose.
We have been uniquely designed to release our potential, however, when we are not living up to our potential, we fall into a state of frustration and disappointment which can lead to anxiety and depression. As Paul explains, when individuals are working properly, the whole community is built up in love and as a result, it continues to grow.
Every individual has his or her own special work and contribution to offer in community with one another and when doing so, a spirit of love is enhanced, and the community is built up. There is no need for competition with one another because no one can do what you can do.
God designs us to complement each other so that there is no need for jealousy, envy, or divisiveness, which stems from toxic thinking. Toxic thinking will ultimately develop into neurodegeneration resulting in mental illness rather than mental health.
God wants us to have a sense of wellbeing and the ability to cope with the normal stressors of life. When you choose to rejoice despite the circumstances, you are using stress the way it is meant to be used; as a motivator that enables you to do your best work and to release your potential.
As Paul exhorts us in the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!…Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4: 4-6).
When you develop a lifestyle of prayer, with an attitude of thanksgiving, you can cope with the normal stressors of life. The peace of God will guard and protect you! You will be motivated to do good work and be productive.
You will have the freedom to be and do all for which you were created. Through prayer, you are released to accomplish what no one else can. We have yet to fully recognize our full potential and our identity. It begins with recognizing that your core gift is how you uniquely think.
C.S. Lewis had this to say regarding prayer, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I am helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It does not change God. It changes me.”
Knowing the truth, that we can be changed through prayer, gives us strong hope!
In the book of Deuteronomy, we see that God has given us the power to think, to feel, and to choose. “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live,” (Deuteronomy 30:19). God has designed your brain to do what your mind tells it to do.
Additional scientific research has proven that the brain is neuroplastic; it is changeable and moldable. It is possible to change the negative, toxic thought patterns that are associated with anxiety, depression, and every mental illness into new, productive, and life-giving ways of thinking. The Bible refers to this as “being renewed in the spirit of your mind,” (Ephesians 4:23).
No matter what situation you have been in, you can find your way out. By learning to direct your thoughts and attention, you can change your brain. The past creates a predisposition, but it does not decide your destiny. Jesus says, “I have formed you in your mother’s womb,” this is the essence of your destiny and the truth of who you are.
Knowing this gives us strong hope! You are not a victim of your biology, rather you are free to choose to believe in Jesus Christ, and consequently, your mind is changed, and you can get free of anything, including the debilitating darkness of depression.
In a recent scientific study, a group of Stanford researchers tried to prove that mental illness has a neurobiological substrate. To their surprise, the exact opposite was proven. What they discovered is that whether it is schizophrenia, bipolar, or any other mental disorder, the same mess is created in the brain from toxic thinking.
There is no specific pattern for these as well as more than 325 mental disorders. However, there is one common neurobiological substrate to all mental illness, and it is toxic thinking. Mental chaos is created from incorrect thinking and making poor choices. This study is groundbreaking, challenging the gold standard of mental health treatment.
Continued scientific research involving meta-analysis among eight universities has confirmed that mental health problems are not medical illnesses. We must stop treating human conditions like mental illnesses. The truth is that brain damage that is caused by toxic thinking, can go away with correct thinking.
Changing your brain structurally is built on genes. As you are learning, you are in process of creating new genes. Diet, thinking, and exercise all produce change in your brain. We are told we have a diseased brain that cannot be healed. This is not true. It is a Diseased Model that says, “You are diseased, it’s not your fault, it’s in your brain.”
Consequently, this presents us with a hopeless picture of life. Alternatively, The Disorder Model says you have a responsibility and that choices have consequences. We are created and designed by God to use our conscious mind to choose. Therefore, we descend into disorder by our choices.
In thinking, choosing, and experiencing we are building memory into our brain. First, we build temporary memory. Temporary memory will go away within forty-eight hours unless you continue to think about it a little bit at a time over the next twenty-one days.
Three cycles of twenty-one days (or sixty-three days) of repeatedly thinking the same things will create a long-term memory in your brain. If you continue to ruminate about toxic things, the uneasiness in your mind will soon develop into worry. Worry then becomes anxiety. Anxiety over a sixty-three-day period will become trauma in the brain.
When we are traumatized, we naturally try to control other people and things in our environment. This may result in self-harm such as cutting or starving yourself which are manifestations of a disordered mind. When attempts to control do not work it becomes depression, an emotionally flat state with feelings of hopelessness.
When Christ is revealed to you, you are revived with hope. He will lead you into a state where you begin to have control over your life. Within sixty-three days you begin to transform and recognize that mental illness is not who you are. You will begin to replace the old toxic thoughts with newly created thoughts and come into the joy of living your potential.
You will no longer have to feel guilt, shame, and condemnation. You are free to celebrate and redesign your life by re-conceptualizing your thinking. You will be able to accept the past and move forward into the future; “Once I was like this but now, I am like this.” It is your awareness that is the crucial part that starts the process.
It takes sixty-three days to change a thought pattern. The reality is that we are always thinking so you may as well make it good, quality thinking. We have been coasting for far too long and allowing ourselves to be dictated to by the false messages in our culture and negative thought patterns that stem from thinking independently and apart from God.
You are thinking about something every second of every day, you just need to choose what you are going to think about. This takes discipline and mental alertness, but it isn’t as exhausting as it sounds because you are thinking anyway. It’s just time to clean up and declutter your thought life and once you do, you will live a life filled with hope.
There are many benefits to mental health counseling. Evidence-based research has proven that deep healing can take place as we are simply allowed to talk honestly and openly about our thoughts, feelings, and experiences and feel listened to with compassion, love, and without judgment.
Dr. Caroline Leaf has made this statement about the healing benefit of talking in a safe, therapeutic space, “When it’s out in the open, it’s in the light and that’s when you can deal with it.” The counselors at Seattle Christian Counseling are professionally trained to come alongside you and offer continued support, encouragement, and education so that you will enjoy a healthy life with an ongoing sense of wellbeing and purpose. Please don’t hesitate to contact one of the therapists listed on the website.
On another note of hope, many practitioners are beginning to stand up and fight back against pharmaceutical companies that promote medication that has been clinically proven to cause damage to the brain. You may want to check out this TED talk video if you also have concerns about taking medication.
Ben Goldacre is a doctor, academic, campaigner, and writer whose work focuses on uses and misuses of science and statistics by journalists, politicians, drug companies, and quacks. His first book Bad Science reached #1 in the UK non-fiction charts and has sold over half a million copies worldwide. You can view his video by clicking on the following link:
Credits: The content of this article is based upon the years of research conducted by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. Since the early 1980s, she has researched the mind-brain connection, the nature of mental health, and the formation of memory.
“All Together”, Courtesy of Hannah Busing, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Praying Woman”, Courtesy of Ben White, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Dancing in the Wilderness”, Courtesy of Scott Broome, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Sitting Among the Flowers”, Courtesy of Melissa Askew, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
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