‘With thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’
Philippians 4:6 NIV
When we’re anxious, we can end up saying things that aren’t helpful. It happens so easily, especially in the company of the wrong people. Before we know it, we’re criticizing and complaining, and the atmosphere becomes negative. That’s because our words can create a climate. But the Bible says: ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds’ (v.6-7 NIV). We start to rise above anxiety by giving thanks, not by speaking negative things about our situations or about ourselves. And we can’t let our level of thankfulness to God be determined by our situation, because God is greater than any situation we face. So how can we overcome our negativity, and instead develop a positive, faith-filled outlook? Firstly, we need to decide to. We can’t move on from negative thinking until we decide we don’t want to think like that anymore. Let’s refuse to spend another moment criticizing and complaining. Then, we need to start now. Change doesn’t come easily, but unless we make a start it won’t come at all. We need to try to be more aware of what we say. When we start speaking negatively, we need to recognize it and steer our thoughts and words towards positive things. Thirdly, we need to look for what’s good. The Bible says: ‘Whatever is true…noble…right…pure…lovely… admirable…think about such things’ (Philippians 4:8 NIV). If we’re always focusing on the bad things, the struggles, the hurts, then we’re going to find it hard to be positive. Instead, we need to try and look for the good things and speak positively about our situations.
Every time you catch yourself speaking negatively to yourself, or to others, stop and say something positive instead.