Have you ever heard of a mental trap? Well, believe it or not, they exist.
Seemingly-innocent thought processes with some majorly dangerous power. They enter into our minds when we’re weak, discouraged, tired, angry, hurt, frustrated, or feeling alone. They creep their way into our thinking, and start wreaking havoc on the way we view and feel about ourselves and our lives.
Patterns of negative thinking that lead to nothing but frustration and pain.
At the risk of sounding “holier than thou”, let me start off by saying that even as a Professional Counselor, at some point in my life, I have uttered every one of the below phrases. Over the past decade, I’ve learned a lot about the power of my mind, and being careful the things I think about. It’s true that our thoughts have so much power over our feelings and behaviors…and in turn, the things that play out in our lives.
So, if you’re single and feeling frustrated, here are a few mental traps to avoid:
1. Is there something wrong with me? This mental trap is dangerous because it shifts the spotlight from God’s bigger picture- to you. It’s a seemingly innocent question that makes you start to doubt who you are and who God has made you to be. Soon enough, you find yourself struggling with your personality, body image, spiritual life, and feeling like you don’t measure up. Being single doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you- it simply means that there is a bigger picture unfolding in your life. It’s important to use this time to become healthy and whole, but never at the expense of degrading yourself.
2. Am I going to be single forever? I heard a statistic once that over 90% of the population will get married. I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but it’s funny how much comfort that truth brings to some people. But true or not, this question is a mental trap because it causes you to dwell on the worst-case scenario of your future, rather than tuning into all the good that is happening in your life here and now. God is bigger than statistics, and knows exactly what you need. I’ve interacted with hundreds of people who have learned that God’s best plan for their lives was always better than their best plan, no matter what that plan entailed. So turn this worry into a prayer because He knows what you need, and trust God with your tomorrow.
3. Why does everyone else have someone to love? This mental trap is dangerous in that it magnifies the good in other’s lives, and minimizes the good in our own. Even beyond “relationship status”, we can wind up doing this with so many things in life: looking at the good all around us- but failing to see the good inside of us. God calls you to look up, at what He is doing in your life, and to look around at all He has given you. Don’t allow your thinking to fall into these extremes of seeing what everyone else seemingly has…because your perspective of their lives is not the full truth.
4. Is God punishing me? It’s easy to wonder if God has something against you when you’re struggling with a particular stage of life. But this mental trap is so dangerous because it challenges the very characteristic of God: GOODNESS. No matter how we feel or what is going on in our lives, we need to hold on to the truth that God is GOOD, that He is FOR US, and that His plans for our lives are better than we could EXPECT or IMAGINE. Nothing is truer than that. God doesn’t “punish” His children in wrath, but protects them, shepherds them, and leads them in love. Rather than allowing these lies and worries to taint our perspective of God, we need to focus on who He actually is and remember His great promises to take care of us.
As a Christian and therapist I truly believe that so much of how we live comes down to what we think. May God begin to challenge, heal, and transform our minds – and in turn- the quality of our lives….today.
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Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, 21 Days to Jump Start Your Love Life, and 21 Days to Pray For Your Love Life – where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!