*Cognitive restructuring, in descriptive terms, is developing a mindful awareness of one’s automatic thoughts – or self-talk – and consciously changing counterproductive thoughts.
Interchangeably called cognitive behavioral therapy, rational emotive behavior therapy or behavior modification, cognitive restructuring may involve a conglomeration of techniques such as hypnosis, Socratic questioning, guided imagery and eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR), among others.
This may all sound great to those who have a very real struggle with fear, depression and anxiety. I used to be you!
Here’s a snippet of my story.
I’m a lifelong learner. It sort of comes with the territory of having chronic digestive disorders and mysterious neurological illnesses no doctor can diagnose. Funny, though, how quickly they could tell me, “Maybe talking to someone can help. Here’s a referral.” Ugh.
So being a researcher, I naturally began digging. Thankfully, before I cashed in that referral to “talk to someone” to feel better, I learned the methods mentioned above are popular in counseling but not so popular with Jesus.
The problem? Most are rooted in new age mysticism, eastern religions or Jungian psychotherapy (Side note: did you know Carl Jung, the “Father of Modern Psychology” admitted he listened to demons to form his theories? Chew on that one a little while…).
How I outsmarted a PhD!
Anxious, fearful, too smart for my own good and terribly brokenhearted, I conceded to “talk to someone.”
On a drizzly afternoon, I traipsed toward a building whose exterior bricks wept with a light rain. Inside, the stale smell of a structure built in the seventies accompanied me to an office that hadn’t been updated since the same. An airplane plant draped its leaves from a crocheted hanging basket. Greenery was the only décor keeping a scratchy loveseat company. She sat across from me. How prosaic.
I gave all the right answers and asked all the right questions. I verbalized my understanding of Dr. So and So’s clinical recommendations, rendered my co-pay and left her office no less anxious and no more hopeful.
I was glad that at least that she didn’t require me to follow-up. Hey, I may have been sick and weakly but my savvy was strong!
Outside? I was petite, professional and holding it together.
Inside? Not so much.
Fear permeated every thought. It was ugly. So were seizures. So were shades of PTSD. So was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. So was rejection by friends and medical disability. So were grief and guarded relationships.
Don’t misunderstand. There were legitimate problems in my body for which I sought the expertise of wise doctors. I’m glad that I did, I do and always will. For me, though, there were multiple factors at play in my “valley of the shadow.”
Even still, I was a patient who slipped through cracks in the world of mental health care and, if I’m totally honest, pastoral help. My experience is that many Christian psychiatrists and licensed counselors – even pastoral care type counselors – are well-intentioned but poorly successful in attaining true, lasting freedom in the lives of their patients.
Why is there often poor outcome in maintaining freedom?
The answer is important.
In fact, the answer was THE KEY to healing in my body, my soul (emotions, mind) and spirit.
The answer was this:
A spiritual battle requires a spiritual fight
My true enemy was identified, as were his tactics and behaviors. I learned what my enemy sounded like, talked like and behaved like. More so, I learned WHO my Father was and what HE sounded like, talked like and behaved like.
My spiritual warfare was defined and battle strategy made plain. The Biblical concepts were concise and simple: recognize, repent, be delivered, renew the mind and learn to make my thoughts obey the Bible.
The application of these tactics were a challenge at first, but it got easier. They’re tactics the Lord graciously empowered me to do.
The source of the problem must go
Through my own experiences, as well as in helping others overcome, I’m convinced one cannot counsel away an evil spirit – or to term that a little less uncomfortably, a “spirit that is not of God” or a “spirit that God did not give me.”
One must first identify they’re serving an evil spirit in a specific area of life, repent, and remove that squatter! One must tell it to LEAVE. This is the method Jesus taught.
“If I, with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the Kingdom of God is come upon you.” Luke 11:20 KJV
I do not want to cohabitate with or manage an evil spirit of fear (or rejection, or envy, anger, self-hatred, accusation, shame, guilt, unforgiveness…) through mind-over-matter, unbiblical counseling methods.
I want the source of the problem to be gone! Don’t you?
Addressing the source, the root problem, creates space for the fun and work to remodeling one’s thoughts to mirror how God’s mind thinks. This is the project and process of overcoming.
Over time, with practice, and with God’s help and empowerment, you CAN OVERCOME.
A JOYFUL, QUIET MIND!
You can have it! The Bible teaches us how to appropriate the freedom Christ paid for at the Cross. Christ’s freedom did not involve cognitive restructuring. It was far better! It involved the possibility for us to TOTALLY MAKEOVER our mind. No counselor or psychiatrist ever offered me such hope!
As ugly as that season was for me, it was a sowing season. And, we all know what happens after we sow.
You can reap, too. With repentance, deliverance and practical application of the Bible, I’m full of hope that you can overcome the mental battles. It worked for me. It works for me!
I want to take every thought captive to the filter and authority of God’s Holy Word.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV
“That He (Jesus) might sanctify and cleanse it (you) with the washing of the water by the Word.” Sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.”
Eph. 5:25 KJV
“Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the RENEWING of your MIND, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Romans 12:2 KJV
“They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seeds, shall DOUBTLESS come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him!”
Psalm 126:6 KJV
*These are my opinions, stories and experiences only. NONE are medical or psychiatric counsel, direction or advice or any of the like. Seek professional medical or psychiatric help if you have a problem.
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_restructuring
- A More Excellennt Way, Dr. Henry Wright, Be In Health,
- What Was I Thinking, Caspar McCloud,
- ACE Health Coach Manual