“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
(Philippians 4:8-9 ESV)
It is easy, due to our fallen nature, to have distorted, unhealthy, and destructive (to self and others) thinking. We can end up thinking in black & white terms about everything. We can overgeneralize – seeing a single event as an unending pattern of negativity. We can dwell on a negative event, real or perceived, and dwell on it so much that it and everything related to it becomes sick and poisoned. How about disqualifying the positive things, saying they “don’t count” for some reason. There are also the famous jumping to conclusion; either through mind-reading by concluding that someone is reacting or thinking negatively about us; or jumping to negative conclusions resulting in a self-fulfilling prophesy. Then there the infamous way we can reason with our emotions and not with the truth and objective facts (especially when the truth happens to contradict our emotional state). We can also end up catastrophize – exaggerate or minimize something into something way bigger or way smaller than it really happens to be. There are still more ways we think wrongly, but one more, that can often happen, we fall into personalization – seeing ourselves as the cause or focus of a negative event when the facts say that we do not hold primary responsibility (e.g. thinking this blog was written because of you).
With our minds so tainted and twisted by sin, what do we do? First, recognize the maladaptive and destructive thought patterns. Second, decide to STOP; don’t keep feeding it as though you are fated to think this way. Third, go to the facts, not your emotions or thoughts. Throughout each of these steps, turn from having the mind set on the flesh (which results in death) to a mind set on the Spirit, resulting in life and peace (Rom. 8:6). Also, realize that most interpersonal problems deal with perceptions and not facts, so set aside the perceptions, focus think about the “these things” in Philippians 4:8-9 to discover the peace of God, and engage in a conversation with the other person with the goal of resolution by getting to the facts and giving one another the benefit the doubt with the love of the Spirit operating within you.