What advice can help depressed Christians? What does the bible say about negative thinking?
A negative mindset can create a destructive chain of thinking that impacts your behavior, self-esteem, and personal relationships. Depressed Christians can turn to the bible for support and advice when times are tough.
Here is some of the best biblical advice for depressed Christians.
Advice for Depressed Christians
According to theologist Jennie Allen, the distorted thought life of depressed Christians is the deepest, darkest mental stronghold. The devil wants to keep you locked up in there, all alone, forever. In biblical idiom, the term “stronghold” frequently refers to a nexus of sin and dysfunction inside your heart-mind that’s sealed up and walled off from God’s healing grace.
Satan’s evil intention for our minds reflects a psychological fact: Research has found that up to 70 percent of spontaneously occurring thoughts are negative. Negativity appears to be our default setting, which is also the case for depressed Christians.
The author found this confirmed at another women’s church meeting when she asked attendees to identify the thoughts playing in their minds as they arrived. Negative thoughts (worries about finances, feelings of low self-worth, and so on) dominated.
Negative thinking produces a destructive chain reaction:
- Negative self-assumptions (for example, “I’m unlovable because I’ve failed too much”) lead to
- negative emotions (anger, hopelessness, and so on), which lead to
- negative beliefs (for example, “I’ll never be good enough”), which lead to
- negative actions (such as numbing your pain or faking your happiness), which ossify into
- negative habits, which build up to
- general lifestyles dominated by negativity.
Use Interrupting Thoughts
The key to freedom from negative thoughts for depressed Christians is another thought, the “interrupting thought.” It is simply this: “I have a choice.”
Making skillful use of the interrupting thought short-circuits any negative spiral and its accompanying mental chaos and imprisonment because it reminds you that you aren’t really at the mercy of your thoughts at all. You can actually choose the mind of Christ over toxic thoughts. This interrupts the negative spiral at its origin point, reverses the polarity, and starts an upward spiral toward health.
We can take a lesson about this from the way we deal with our children. We teach our children to interrupt their downward spirals all the time, as in a parent disciplining a toddler throwing a fit in public. We remind our children that we love them and that they can choose other thoughts and behavior, that they’re not victims of their negativity. Why not apply this to ourselves, as depressed Christians?
Crucially, this “art of interruption” doesn’t just give you better thoughts, it gives you more of God.
Also crucially, this ability to use the interrupting thought is ultimately for Christians. As a Christian you have God’s power to choose your thoughts, focus, and purpose. You’re not a slave to sin. Consider:
- God gives you, as a Christian, everything you need for a victorious life (see 1 Peter 1:3).
- In Philippians, Paul observed that because God has recreated us in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit’s power and the ability (and responsibility) to choose whether to live for the Spirit or for “the flesh” (our old, fallen self-nature with its sinful desire). The ability to change our heart-minds is built into us as Christians.
- When he wrote his letter to the Philippians, Paul was practicing what he preached. He was imprisoned under house arrest, yet he chose to have the awesome love and reality of the risen Christ, instead of negativity, dominate his mind.
Below is a visual showing the interrupted and reversed thought spiral. Now starting from the bottom of the chain, you disrupt and change the toxic emotion-thought relationship by choosing the mind of Christ.
Remember, the origin and power of negative spirals goes back to self-lies and toxic thoughts. To break free, use the key of the interrupting thought (“I have a choice”) to identify, reject, and replace the specific toxic lie (about yourself and God) that’s keeping you imprisoned. This may come to you through other people’s help.
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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jennie Allen's "Get Out of Your Head" at Shortform.
Here's what you'll find in our full Get Out of Your Head summary:
- Satan’s master plan for poisoning your mind with toxic thoughts
- How to replace ungodly lies with scriptural truths
- How to “put on the mind of Christ” and fulfill God’s plan for you