This is the second in a series of blogs on choosing an intentional response to our circumstances in unpredictable times. To read our post from last week, click HERE.
We have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7).
During this season of unknowns, uncertainty becomes our new normal, and learning to adapt to change becomes our everyday. We are constantly planning, problem solving, and praying. And our brains, wired to make sense of the world around us, can become wearied (and worried).
How do we quiet the anxiety in our minds when our world feels unstable? How do we be kind to our family and friends when we feel stuck? How do we control our fears when they run wild?
Remember: You have the power to control the way you think.
It takes some practice, but changing your thought life is possible. 2 Corinthians 10:5 encourages us:
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
The “ABC” Model
Start by identifying thoughts and beliefs in need of repair. Be deliberate in your approach to restore them to working order. One practical method we use in counseling is the “ABC” model.
A – Identify the Activating Event: This is a trigger event associated with a specific thought/belief.
Example: Watching the news/checking social media for Coronavirus updates right before bed.
B – Identify the Belief: This is the thought following the activating event…The “go-to” thought is typically negative.
Example: This is terrifying. What if… * worst case scenario.*
C – Identify the Consequence: The emotional/physical consequence.
Example: Choosing the negative “Belief” leads to a negative “Consequence.” Increased fear and arousal response in your body. Increased likelihood for nightmares and restless sleep. Leads to: Exacerbated anxiety/paranoia, isolation, pessimism, compulsive/addictive behaviors.
Practicing the Model
Now, take a moment to work through your own ABC’s, but this time pause. Use 2 Corinthians 10:5 to choose an alternative “Belief”… even if the negative thought seems to have “proof” to justify choosing it.
A – Identify the Activating Event: Watching social media before bed.
B – Choose the Belief: Positive Alternative: This is an unprecedented time with a lot of unknowns. I will be fully present today, choose hope, and focus on staying connected to God and others, even if we can’t be together physically.
C – Identify the Consequence: Choosing a positive “Belief” leads to a positive “Consequence”: increased hopefulness and gratitude, joy, contentment, and peace (that passes understanding). Improved sleep and ability to manage mood and behavior. Leads to: Demonstration of grace and compassion towards self and others, intentional connections with others, optimistic conversation.
Here’s an interesting fact: The more you choose the negative “B” and experience the side-effects of the negative “C”, you actually increase the likelihood of “A” happening again. This often becomes cyclical, and can plunge you further into anxiety, worry, and despair.
But! By choosing the positive “B” and experiencing a positive “C”, you significantly lessen the chance of “A” happening again.
With practice, the ABC method can be used at any time, whenever feelings of anxiety or triggers threaten to overwhelm us. What Belief will we choose ahead of time? In the moment? After experiencing a trigger?
The phrase about “taking our thoughts captive” in 2 Corinthians 10:5 is the Greek word “aichmalōtizō” (ah-mal-oh-tee-zo) which comes from the word meaning “a spear.” So, this scripture could be read this way: “We destroy justifications and rationalizations, and every idea that opposes God, and we hold them at spear-point and force them to obey Christ.”
We may not be able to control the world around us, but we can control our thought life. Even, and maybe especially, during a time of great uncertainty.
To working toward a sound mind together,
If you or someone you know would like to work through their own “ABCs,” or need any kind of support during this time, please reach out to us. We provide secure, confidential online counseling from the comfort of your own home.
Are you anxious, worried, and stuck at home? We would love to set you up with one of our professional therapists (we have online counseling options). Feel free to explore our website and read through some of our therapist’s bios. Give us a call with your questions at 303-902-3068 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.