by Jenny Harrison
“Thoughts become things…Choose the good ones!”
Being an all-level special education counselor keeps me constantly moving between campuses and buildings. One morning, as I made my way from the elementary to the middle school building, I entered the playground area. A high level of energy could be felt as I observed children squealing, swinging, climbing, and playing tag. Some were enjoying a snack with their friends.
However, one familiar young student soon caught my attention. He was sitting alone on the porch steps with his eyes downcast, shoulders slumped, and his chin resting on the palms of his hands. As I proceeded toward the steps I asked, “Hey there buddy, how ya doin’?” He gave a deep sigh and said, “Not so good Mrs. Jenny — this has been the crummiest day ever!”
I didn’t have to twist his arm to get him to share the string of events that appeared to have turned his world upside down. From an adult perspective, not one incident was earth-shattering, but combined could understandably contribute to his state of distress.
The student went on to share that a significant adult had encouraged him to “look on the bright side…to be positive.” I asked him if the advice was helpful. He thought about my inquiry, once again sighed deeply, then painfully told me, “Yes, I’ve been thinking, and I am POSITIVE this is the crummiest day ever!” I am sure this was not the desired result of the loving advice, however, hopelessness appeared to be his present reality.
In the book, Words Can Change Your Brain, by Andrew Newburg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman, the authors site research concerning negative words on the brain. If you were put into an MRI scanner and a video was taken of the neural changes in your brain and the word NO was flashed for less than a second, there would be a sudden release of dozens of stress producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing, and communication.
If this is the result, of a simple two-letter word, how impaired do we become when consistent negative internal or external comments flood our mind on a daily basis?
I can answer this question and back my response with further scientific studies. As a mental health professional, I am aware of the emotional and physiological effects of negative self statements. I am trained to help individuals recognize and reframe harmful and self-defeating thoughts.
However, the last time I checked, counselors are human. I have spent many a day kicking my heels up on the playground of life, but I have also been the one alone on the porch steps barely holding up my head and watching life pass me by. With deep, painful sighs I have been POSITIVE my situation would not improve any time soon. I have been guilty of exhausting all strategies humanly possible before I turned my eyes upward to the Master Counselor.
My Lord and Savior says:
I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]
John 16:33 (AMP)
Copyright © 2013, Jenny Harrison, all rights reserved, Breath of Life Women’s Ministries. Quote from Mike Dooley. Reference from Words Can Change Your Brain: Andrew Newburg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman. Scripture taken from the Amplified Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.