Most people probably go through life just letting it happen to them. They aren’t focused on intentional living. But our mental and emotional health can be greatly affected—either negatively or positively—by what we let into our mind. If we begin to take back control of the thought patterns of our life, we can experience greater joy and peace.
We sat down with Brittney Moses, a Los Angeles-based writer and content creator who has a degree in psychology and research from UCLA, to ask her a few questions about intentional living. Brittney is passionate about the intersection between faith, mental health, and wellness. Her popular blog advocates for wholehearted mental wellness for everyday living.
What are a few daily bad habits that people tend to overlook when it comes to our mental and emotional health?
BM: Often in the rush of busy days, many of us fall into the flow of our thought patterns without taking the time to step back and reorient how we’re really doing that day or where our mind turned that corner into a downward spiral of anxiety or negativity.
For one, many of us start the day from a state of reaction instead of from intention. From the moment that we crack our eyes open, pick up our phones, and sift through our social media feeds to catch the latest status update or check our morning emails, we’ve already given our mind over to the hum of society and the demands of others. We’ve set ourselves up to let the rest of the world set the tone and thought priorities for our day.
Even if we’re not engaging, we’re still mentally orienting ourselves around what we’re seeing. And if what we’re seeing is anxiety-provoking or negative, it’s already planted a seed in our emotions. We can’t always predict how the day will go, but we can choose to create a moment of space and take back ownership of our mindset before we let the rush in. Think about what seeds you’re planting before the day begins.
Now listen to the 2-minute version of this Abide meditation about creating healthy habits with Abide narrator Dianne Jackson
How can we stop ourselves from getting into a negative mindset?
We have to learn how to go into situations with an open mind and heart because many times the things we fear do not turn out the way we pictured in our head. But if you are already set in your head then you will begin to see and confirm things from your mentality and not as they genuinely are. This is called a confirmation bias. It will cut you off from experiencing the potential beauty of moments that only an open heart can see. And you can maintain this all while remaining realistic about your situation. Again, that is by trusting that if it doesn’t go the way you hoped, with God as your strength, you have the ability to adjust and move forward as needed.
Now listen to this short prayer from Abide narrator Bonnie Curry about overcoming negative thinking.
For those of us who overthink, what advice would you give to aid us in stopping?
There are a few things that have helped me overcome overthinking and have become a practice:
- Set aside a designated time to think about the issue on your mind. When your mind is running on and on about something that does not pertain to the moment that you’re in, or you can’t focus and you miss out on the present.
- Designate a time when you have more peace and better timing to think things through. Literally say to yourself, “After dinner, I will sit down and journal or think this through, until then I have to let it go.” You’ll feel better because you can redirect your focus to what’s in front of you without the lingering feeling that things have gone unresolved.
- Pause and realize you’re caught up in a mental loop. Literally, do a breathing exercise—deeply in and out for ten seconds. Imagine yourself pushing everything out of your brain and to the side. Take a walk. Readjust your concentration and slow down. In fact, pick a time to not think about anything heavy. That could be reading a book, taking a bath, taking a walk, painting a picture, you name it.
- And definitely consider prayer and biblical mediation. Realize that you are not alone. Overthinking is very much hand in hand with control issues. You feel everything is relying and weighing on you so you take on the total burden—the burden of having to know everything, having to figure it out, having to have all the answers. When you have God, you are never alone. So whatever is out of your control can be given to him because in the grand scheme of things he is working all things together for your good.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:6-7
If you tend to be an over thinker, before you go to bed tonight, listen to this sleep story from Abide with narrator Jennifer Clark. Based on 2 Corinthians 10:5, it will help you take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.
You share often about the importance of treating our mind like a temple. Speak to us about that.
We often like to quote 1 Corinthians 6:19 about our body being a temple, and I like to encourage that this very much includes our minds. Because the temple is the sacred place where God meets us. The temple houses the core of who we are. The temple, our minds and bodies, is something that we live with every single day. Only we can take responsibility for our own temple.
In one way this means making our mental health a priority. Are you taking time to check in with yourself or have you been running on the never-ending hamster wheel of life and consuming everything that comes your way? Many of us just accept our mentalities as what they are and don’t see them as important enough to regularly stop, reflect and realign.
My encouragement to you is to start becoming more self-aware and pay attention to the red flags your mind is sending you. Where is your mind going when it wanders? Get to know some of the usual patterns your mind drifts toward. Take the time to step back and get your temple in order. That could mean taking a social media hiatus, separating yourself from certain people, talking to a counselor or therapist, or practicing a better work-rest life. This kind of intentional living will have positive effects on your mental health.
Listen to the meditation below for some tips on overcoming toxic thoughts with Abide narrator Tyler Boss.
It also means filling your temple with truth. That could look like getting on a daily Bible reading plan or routine that keeps your spirit filled. Meditating each morning with Abide is a great way to start. It looks like keeping yourself planted around other individuals who will speak God’s truth into you when you’re lost in the lies of your fears, doubts, and insecurities.
And treating your temple with love and respect. Some of the conversations we have with ourselves internally would never be appropriate if they were said out loud to another human being. Seeing your mind as the temple is understanding that your mind deserves to be treated with love and respect—even from yourself.
You’re in partnership with yourself, not your enemies. That means being gentle with yourself through failures and mistakes and letting them be learning, growing opportunities rather than a means to attack your identity. It means understanding you are still worthy of love and respect even though you’re flawed. It means working with your thoughts to better understand how you need to seek help rather than hating yourself for having the thoughts you have. You are the temple. Treat yourself as such. This is a key to intentional living.
Now listen to the 2-minute version of this Abide meditation on the battle for your mind with Abide narrator Tyler Boss.
We couldn’t agree more, Brittney. For more full-length meditations designed to help you find greater peace and grow your relationship with God, be sure to download the Abide app. Along with our library of 2,000+ meditations, we also have more than 300 biblical sleep stories to help you find the rest you need. For access to our complete library, download the Abide app now using this link and receive 25% off your premium subscription.