A couple of days ago I was instructing a cheerleader in her tumbling. To clear things up my part time job is coaching and instructing cheerleaders. I have been doing this for the last 14 years with a brief hiatus from 2009 to 2011.
Okay back to the cheerleader. This particular athlete was going through a mental block concerning her ability to do a back-handspring. This roadblock has been in place for the last couple of weeks. And this isnít the first time. Just prior to this mental barrier she had recently gotten her back-handspring back after a previous psychological impediment. So this wasnít new to her. What I generally do in this situation is not coach them back to the skill, but coach them through the mental issues they are having. If she didnít know how to overcome the negative thoughts that were keeping her from doing her tumbling, then even if she got her back-handspring back she would lose it again later down the road because she never learned how to overcome the negative thoughts in the first place.
You see there is an infamous line that we coaches hear all of the time when instructing tumbling, ďI lost my back-handspring.Ē Every time I hear this phrase uttered I immediately think HOW RIDICULOUS! YOU CANíT LOSE A BACK-HANDSPRING! I never shout it like that, but inside I am screaming. Just saying. But really the problem isnít the person losing the skill, they have had it ever since the first time they did it. It is the game of percentages. How many times can I say I canít do it versus how many times I say I can. Trust me once a person says they canít just one time after they already have done it, it will take nearly one hundred times to recover back what they say they Ďlostí.
Here is what I discovered, negative thoughts, in other words lies, if said over and over again enough times can become truth in a personís heart and mind. Hitler said that if a lie is told long enough, with enough fervor, people will begin to believe it. As this cheerleader had done by telling herself she cannot do a back-handspring, which she has done in the past, she began to believe the lie and therefore incapacitated herself to the point where she could not do the tumbling skill.
For a follower of Christ the power of positive thinking can only come from the one who gives positive thoughts. If left to our own devices we would think so low and negatively of ourselves that we would barely be able to muster the strength to get out of bed each morning. I have anxiety attacks. If I let them run rampant without keeping a rein on them then I would probably never leave the house. My anxieties were so bad at one time I wanted to quit my job. I was scared to death to eat, to sleep, to step foot outside of my room. It was pretty bad.
What motivated me to move forward from that? Well, the book of Psalms was a great place to start. Godís word is where I gained positive feedback not only about how dependable and wonderful my Father in heaven is, but how precious I am in His sight. It doesnít mater what anyone else says about me. What matters is what my Father thinks and that I believe in what He says about His love for me. This was so powerful for me in my life that it has been my remedy for my anxieties and panic attacks. I never took a single anti-depression pill or any anxiety medicine to help me overcome these mental attacks (not that I am opposed to others taking them).
So how do we turn from negative in our thinking to positive. Here are five ways that worked for me.
1. Make reading Godís word a daily practice. His word is truth and His truth is absolute.
2. Keep a daily journal. Writing down your feelings, emotions, and thoughts as if you are having a discussion with God is not only confession for the spirit, but it is healing for the soul. Many times we get lost in verbal conversation with God when we are talking with Him. If any of you are like me, I get ADD real quick. Or, because I usually have my intimate time with God early in the morning, I get sleeping when I just sit and talk or sit quietly period. I like to either type or write in a journal to keep me focused. You wouldnít believe how much I end up typing when it is all said and done. It also leads me into praying for my friends and family.
3. Have a daily quiet time. I donít mean a quiet time where I am reading or listening to Christian music. I am talking about silence and solitude.
4. Reflection. I do a lot of daily reflecting. I reflect after my time with God in the morning and I reflect on things that I experience throughout the day. God speaks to me almost more through these times of reflection than at any other time in my day.
5. Lastly, and this is critical. I spend a lot of time with other Christians. Not just more time with Christians than with non-Christians, I spend much of my time during the week with other followers that are at the same point or ahead of me in the journey. This keeps me accountable. They push me to draw closer to God. They encourage me in my walk. They motivate me to seek Him more. And they challenge me to stretch myself to see my relationship with God grow.
These are five practices, that for me, are crucial for my relationship with God to not only stay on track, but to develop and mature as well. There are many more habits I have as well, but these have had the most impact in my spiritual journey.