Image Credit: International Biblical Training
Self-help gurus have been touting the benefits of positive self-affirmations for years. They claim that telling yourself positive messages will re-program your subconscious mind so you will naturally act in a way that makes those messages become reality. Studies have shown that positive self-affirmations can, in fact, be helpful for some.
There are other situations, however, where self-affirmations can cause more harm than good. In one study, people with low self-esteem who were asked to repeat phrases such as “I accept myself completely” and “I am a lovable person” felt worse afterward. Why? When someone repeats positive statements that come into conflict with their perception of themselves, it seems to reinforce their original belief about themselves rather than reverse it. These people actually felt better after repeating the negative statements about themselves that they already believed, but that’s not helpful if you’re trying to change your mindset so you can have a healthy self-esteem.
To reverse a negative mindset, it’s best to repeat positive phrases that you already know are true. Where can we find them? For those who believe in Christ, we can find them in the Bible. There are many statements throughout the Bible about who we are in Christ and what we can do through him. I modified a list of biblical affirmations that I found online to create my own list (you can download it here). I repeat these affirmations out loud on a regular basis to remind myself of who I am in Christ. Doing this regularly, especially in the morning before the day starts, along with morning Bible reading/listening helps me keep me centered on God as I go through my daily activities. I also tend to listen to YouTube videos with positive messages as I get ready in the morning. Here’s one that features Bishop T.D. Jakes that I often listen to:
Renew Your Mind
Why is it so important to make a special effort to feed our minds with biblical messages? In 2014, Canadians consumed more than 8 hours of media per day. Statistics show that people will spend over 5 years of their life on social media (comparatively, we will only spend over 3 years of our lives eating and drinking). A lot of media is negative, whether it’s the ads that try to persuade you that you are incomplete without a particular product, the news that loves to report on disasters and violence, the TV shows and movies that normalize poor lifestyle choices, or Internet sites and apps designed to bring you back over and over again. And those aren’t all the ways that media affects us. You don’t have to look too hard online to find warnings about the dangers of consuming too much media.
In a media-saturated 21st century, it’s more important than ever to obey the command to give our bodies as living sacrifices to God and be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). If we don’t purposely fill our minds with godly things, the world will quickly fill it with things that, for the most part, draw us away from God. We are commanded to prepare our minds for action (1 Peter 1:13-16) and to fix our thoughts on those things that are excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). The mind is even included in one of the two commandments that Jesus himself said were the greatest (Matthew 22:37 // Mark 12:30 // Luke 10:27).
For Further Study
If you’d like to study more of what the Bible says about the mind and how right thinking leads to right living, here are a few passages to look into: