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Counseling Through Anxiety 4

Day 4 of 7     

“Set your mind on things above” (Colossians 3:2, ESV). – Apostle Paul

Step 2B – Intentionally replace the anxiety with biblical text.

Today is key. When we talk about overcoming anxiety, the reality is that it is impossible without thought replacement. This is a part of what is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. But we, as Christians, have an entire additional layer of help. We can go vertically to God for inner change, rather than simply depend on horizontal assistance from others and counseling theories.    

Carefully review the verse we started with today. Think about these words and rehearse them slowly— “set your mind” – “on things above.” Here is where we get very practical. 

Starting today, set three alarms on your phone. Space these out throughout the day. I would suggest something like 10am, 2pm, and 9pm, but it could be at any time. When these alarms go off, have specific Bible verses that have been beneficial to you at the ready. We will use the verses we have already been considering in this study as examples.  

When the first alarm goes off at 10am, immediately think about the words of Jesus, “Do not be anxious.” Perhaps a thought like this will cross your mind: If Jesus is the Son of God, and He is telling me I do not need to be anxious, then He knows people like me can get worried.  Now that I think about it, He went through some very difficult situations and He can relate to what I am going through. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, ESV). This certainly brings comfort that He knows and understands.

When the second alarm goes off at 2pm, have the words of Christ ready: “You are troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41). You may begin to think, Okay, He is right. I am worried about a lot right now. Maybe I need to refocus on things that I can control, and let Him handle everything else.  

I think you get the picture now. When the third alarm goes off, you have another verse prepared. This will be challenging work. It is going to take effort to predetermine some verses, and then deliberately “set your mind” on them.

This practice will also aid you when you have moments of worry that do not fit neatly within the times of your predetermined alarms. Once you become aware of the anxious thought:

  • Take it captive and purposely stop it
  • Replace it with a verse

By using this 3-alarm strategy, you will ensure that you have at least 3 times during the day when you experience comfort, peace, joy, and thanksgiving from “things above.” This strategy will also arm you with help for other times when anxiety strikes. Eventually, you will notice that you no longer need the alarms because you have trained your brain to think differently. You have trained your brain to set your mind on things above.  

To hear a verbal description of the 3 alarms, you can listen to my featured episode of the Make Meaning Podcast. At the 6:40 mark, I begin to describe how this strategy works.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kurt Petterson

    Thanks Josh. Good stuff.

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