Beliefs are powerful. What you believe about yourself, others, and the world around you, dictates how respond and react to situations. How you respond and react to situations says a lot about you and your character. Innately, most of us know this by now.
The problem is most people do not take a moment to pause and recognize their beliefs. Most people are too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed. This is understandable. Life gets busy and chaotic.
Sure, it’s one thing to say what we believe: “I believe in treating all people with dignity and respect.” But what happens when we are confronted with a grumpy barista at the local coffee shop or get cut off in traffic by that person who has been tailgating us since we merged into traffic? How do we treat ourselves when we engage in behaviors that we do not like, such as ignoring our children or ignoring our boss at work?
Scripture reminds us to “test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!” (Lamentations 3:40). As Christians, it is important to identify our beliefs, and see if they truly align with the Truth of God and His Word.
CBT: Thoughts, Emotions, and Behaviors
In Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), the counselor works with the client to create greater awareness on how thoughts impact one’s feelings. These feelings impact one’s behaviors. If you change your thoughts, you can change how you feel, which changes what you do (for more information on CBT, you can visit https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral).
But sometimes, it’s not that simple. CBT Theorists suggest that we have about 30,000 thoughts a day. We are constantly thinking whether we are aware of it or not.
Sometimes, our thoughts can be critical, judgmental, and harsh. We can be judgmental of the barista that made our coffee or the person who cut us off in traffic. We can be harsh with ourselves, critiquing our every shortcoming or traits that we do not like. We can be critical of worldly affairs and ruminate of the future of world.
If we are engaging in critical, judgmental, and harsh thoughts, those type of thoughts will give birth to emotions surrounding doom, fear, anger, rage, numbness, anxiety, depression, irritability, hostility, etc. Those emotions will give birth to varying behaviors such as avoidance, substance use/abuse, neglect of self and others, and so many others.
The Solution: Recognizing Counterproductive and Ungodly Beliefs
Unfortunately, shouting positive affirmations in the mirror is not enough to have more positive thoughts. Sure, you can commit to a New Year’s Resolution of “being more positive.” What seems to happen is we engage in positive thinking for one day, maybe a week, and then it’s back to our familiar thinking patterns.
Why does this happen? This is because all of our thoughts come from our core beliefs. What you believe about yourself, others, and the world around you truly matters.
The solution to identify below the surface, core beliefs? Create greater self-awareness. This can be done through pausing and reflecting on your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Asking the why and how:
“Why did I just snatch my coffee out of the barista’s hand?”
“How did I feel when he took my money without saying ‘thank you’?”
“Did I feel inadequate, underappreciated, undervalued?”
“What counterproductive/ungodly thoughts was I thinking about him or the situation that contributed to my feelings of inadequacy?”
Once identified, you can go to God, seek forgiveness, and repent.
It’s not always easy creating greater self-awareness. The good news is, we don’t have to do it alone. Psalms 139:23-24 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
However, if you are struggling in identifying counterproductive, ungodly beliefs, you are not alone. With the help of a counselor, you can “peel the onion,” to get to the core of what drives your life. To reach out to our counselors, visit https://www.burkecommunity.com/careandcounseling/