A few years ago I went though a rough time and sought some counseling. Throughout a year of counseling there were two things that stuck out to me that were life changing for me. I wanted to share them here in hopes that it might help someone else.
First, you have to forgive yourself for past mistakes. It is often much easier to ask forgiveness from God and others than it is to forgive yourself. I know in my life I ask God to forgive my mistakes and He willingly does, but then I hold on to those things and beat myself up about them. This is obviously not what God intended. God forgives and forgets what we do wrong and He expects us to do the same. To not forgive yourself is a sin. It hinders your relationship with God and prevents you from doing what He has called you to do. In the Psalms we see after David had the affair with Bathsheba and had her husband killed, he got by himself and asked forgiveness from God. Then there are a few chapters of him beating himself up about it. I can relate to that. There are things in my past I used to beat myself up over. But I realized in counseling that I needed to let go of those things and move forward. You cannot move forward by looking behind you. You must forgive yourself. You cannot atone your sin by beating yourself up over it. Forget it and move on.
That brings me to the second thing I learned and that is that Satan is real and he is putting negative thoughts into your head all the time. My counselor had me do this little exercise that for me was revolutionary. She had me carry with me a journal and write down every time I had a negative thought and what that thought was. I realized after doing this, that I had negative thoughts all the time. Hundreds per day! I didn’t even realize it. Then I had to write down the positive thought that would cancel out that negative thought. For example, let’s say I didn’t respond well to my kids and yelled at them. I would write down my negative thought which would say something like “I am a bad mom because I just yelled at my kids”. Then I would write down a positive thought which would be “I did yell at my kids, but I realize that I am only human and sometimes I make mistakes, I am not a bad mom. And I did ask my kids to forgive me”.
This idea was revolutionary because it taught me to recognize Satan’s schemes. Satan is the father of lies and he wants nothing more than to whisper bad thoughts into your head all day. You don’t even know he is doing it. But if you will do this exercise it will become apparent to you and then you can combat those thoughts with positive ones and scriptural truths. This will change your outlook on life. You will become a more positive person. I have anxiety and that is why I was in counseling, and this exercise has helped me to keep my anxiety under control.
I just wanted to share these two things I have learned, since they have made such a difference in my life. I hope they are helpful for someone else.