Mental resilience begins when we decide to take hold of our thought life.
Navy SEAL training includes teaching the recruits positive self-talk. Apparently we say something like three hundred to one thousand words to ourselves every minute. You know from experience that a whole bunch of it is negative. Mental resilience is built by intentionally, consciously saying positive things—which for the believer would be all the beautiful truths of Scripture. God is with me. I am secure. Christ lives within me. I have the strength that prevails. Positive self-talk helps calm fears aroused by the amygdala, that part of the brain that governs anxiety.
In recent days I’ve found myself driving along reciting out loud the opening lines from the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus ...”
So simple, but so very helpful. This is what I believe; this is what I believe.
Reading and memorizing scripture builds mental resilience because it is a living, breathing text in which you encounter God, and through which you get perspective on the world. How good would it be for your mental health to be reminded each day that Jesus is Lord of all, “running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule” (Ephesians 1:20–21 The message). Try reading Isaiah 40 for five days in a row and watch what it does for your soul.
Join me in this prayer:
Begin with three deep breaths.
Search me, God, and know my heart ... know my anxious thoughts (Psalm 139:23).
I come to you, Jesus, for peace of mind. I give my mind to you. I set my mind on you. Capture my every thought. I surrender all the news. All worry and speculation. I surrender everything grabbing my attention.
I give you my thoughts, Jesus. All of my mental life: my focus and attention, my memory and recall, my understanding and imagination. I dedicate the life of my mind to you, Lord Jesus, and you alone.
The mind governed by God’s Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6). Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, come and fill my mind. Come and fill my thoughts. Fill my mind with life and peace.
Repeat that ...
Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, come and fill my mind. Come and fill my thoughts. Fill my mind with life and peace.
For we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). I pray to be one mind with you, Jesus. One thought, one imagination, one mental life. I receive the mind of Christ. I receive the mind of Christ.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, right and pure, lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). Think about something beautiful, some thing that reminds you of the goodness of God. A place you love. A sweet memory. Something in nature. Something that makes you smile.
Now stay with that today.