Depression and anxiety are part of many peoples lives. It may be hidden behind a smile, anger or even behind a facade of perfectionism, but it is there. Even if you don’t experience it yourself, you may know somebody who does. There are many reasons for this, for each person it is different. We live in a broken world full of broken relationships and hardship and we often are so entangled in this that we fail to see the beauty that still exists around us.
Coming to know the truth is one such reason to feel “what is the use of all this, why bother. ” It can all seem so overwhelming. Some seek for freedom from their despair by taking anti-depressants, alcohol or drugs. All this just makes the problem worse, as these can’t fill the despair and emptiness. We need a different solution.
We have written about having hope and about what our purpose in life is. Hope and purpose forms the foundation of what we will discuss here. In this article, we will focus on the first step of what we shouldÂ be doing to establish hope and purpose in our lives. Our objective is to be free from anxiety and depression; to live a life driven by purpose that will inspire others to want to be part of YHVH’s Kingdom.
In both having hope and finding meaning, one thing stands out. We have to be convinced in our hearts and minds, we have to have faith. We have to know without any doubt where our hope comes from and how to battle hopelessness when it comes. We have to know and understand our purpose in order for it to be a part of us. This is what this article is about, how do we get ourselves to really believe what we have learned. How do we convert the theoretical to the practical? You can have the most brilliant solution to a problem, but if you fail to implement it properly, it will remain just words on paper or good intensions. We want to help you put it into practice.
The solution is to speak truth to ourselves and our next article will be about how to form habits in order to properly implement this solution.
We will now look at this solution.
Renewing of our minds
Speaking truth to ourselves is how we re-wire our minds to believe YHVH’s truth. We have within us the ability to be transformed. In Romans 12, Paul describes what we shouldÂ be doing.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of Elohim is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We also learn from Scripture that we don’t have to do it alone, we have help from YHVH through His Spirit.
26 â€œBut the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
YHVH gave us His Word and His Word is truth. So, if we want to speak truth to ourselves, we are to speak YHVH’s Word. That is what renewing of the mind is all about.
This wasn’t Paul’s idea, we already find this principle in the book of Psalms.
We have seen in the previous article about having hope, how the author of Psalm 42 spoke to himself when he was in a desperate situation. This is a beautiful Psalm and I am sure you have also felt this way.
We shall now look in more detail at this psalm in order to learn how we can apply this in our own lives.
1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O Elohim. 2 My soul thirsts for Elohim, for the living Elohim; When shall I come and appear before Elohim? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, â€œWhere is your ELohim?â€ 4 These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of Elohim, With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in Elohim, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. 6 O my Elohim, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. 8 YHVH will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the Elohim of my life. 9 I will say to Elohim my rock, â€œWhy have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?â€ 10 As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, While they say to me all day long, â€œWhere is your Elohim?â€ 11 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in Elohim, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my Elohim.
Notice what the author says “these things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.” He then continues with “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me?” He is doing self-analysis, he is deep in thought, thinking about his situation, pouring his soul out within himself. He asks himself why he is thinking what he is thinking and then proceed to speak truth to himself “Hope in Elohim, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” So before we can renew our minds, we need to understand what we are thinking.
This forms the basis of speaking truth to ourselves. First we are to analyze what we are thinking and when we do this we may very often find that we are repeating lies which the enemy told us about ourselves or the situation. We need to counter these lies with the truth, YHVH’s truth. Before we elaborate on this, we will look at another example of speaking truth to ourselves from Scripture.
Psalm 4 gives us another example.
4 Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
The word translated as tremble can have the following meanings
8074 ×¨Ö¸×’Ö·×– (rÄÂ·á¸¡ÇŽz): v.; â‰¡ Str 7264; TWOT 2112â€”1. LN 16 (qal) quake, shake, tremble, i.e., make a non-linear motion of a normally stable object (1Sa 14:15; 2Sa 22:8; Ps 18:8[EB 7]; 77:17[EB 16],19[EB 18]; 99:1; Pr 30:21; Isa 5:25; Joel 2:10+); (hif) cause to shake, make tremble (Job 9:6; Isa 13:13; 14:16; 23:11; Hab 3:16b+), note: in some contexts this may refer to fear or anxiety; 2. LN 25.223â€“25.250 (qal) be in anguish, i.e., be in an emotional distress or turbulence, as a figurative extension of shaking an object (Ex 15:14; Dt 2:25; 2Sa 7:10; 19:1[EB 18:33]; 1Ch 17:9; Isa 14:9; 28:21; 32:10, 11; 64:1[EB 2]; Joel 2:1; Am 8:8; Mic 7:17; Hab 3:7+); (hif) agitate, cause a disturbance (1Sa 28:15; Jer 50:34+), note: in context the response to this agitation may by anger or displeasure; 3. LN 88.171â€“88.191 (qal) be angry, i.e., be in a state of intense displeasure, as a figurative extension of shaking or trembling as a bodily response to being in an angry state (Ge 45:24; Ps 4:5[EB 4]; Pr 29:9; Eze 16:43+); (hif) provoke to anger (Job 12:6+); (hitp) enrage oneself (2Ki 19:27, 28; Isa 37:28, 29+); 4. LN 25.206â€“25.222 (qal) be astonished, i.e., feel a state of unexpected wonder and surprise (Jer 33:9+); 5. LN 16 (qal) pound, beat, i.e., the non-linear motion of the heart, as a figurative extension of an object shaking or trembling (Hab 3:16a+)2
So, this Hebrew word “ragaz” can refer to a number of emotional states. Let’s analyze what is said here. King David wrote this; he first permits the emotion and then adds not to sin. Then he admonishes the reader to meditate on it and to be still.
The word meditate can also be translated as “speak”
606 I. ×Ö¸×žÖ·×¨ (Ê¾ÄÂ·mÇŽr): v.; â‰¡ Str 559; TWOT 118â€”1. LN 33.69â€“33.108 (qal) say, tell, claim, i.e., speak or talk, usually with a focus on the content to follow (Ge 3:1); (qal pass.) be said (Mic 2:7); (nif) be said, be told, be spoken to (Ge 10:9; Da 8:26)2
The word “heart” can also be translated as soul
4222 ×œÖµ×‘Ö¸×‘ (lÄ“Â·á¸‡Äá¸‡): n.masc.; â‰¡ Str 3824; TWOT 1071aâ€”1. LN 26 heart, mind, soul, spirit, self, i.e., the source of the life of the inner person in various aspects, with a focus on feelings, thoughts, volition, and other areas of inner life (Dt 2:30)2
Once again, we see the concept of speaking to your soul as we have seen in Psalm 42.
We need to work through issues in our minds. Most of the time, we either distract ourselves with Facebook, television or the internet, or we repeat the lies we have always believed and replay it over and over in our minds. This way we don’t really work through issues. That may be one reason why so many people are depressed and remain depressed.
It is important, though, when we do this self-analysis, to do it in a constructive manner, or we would just make matters worse. Our aim should be to identify the lies and counter it with the truth.
It is interesting to know that what we have seen here in Scripture is applied in psychology, a technique called existential analysis.
A neurologist and psychiatrist by the name of Victor Frankl further developed this technique to help people.
Here is some information about him.
Viktor Emil Frankl, M.D., Ph.D. (26 March 1905 â€“ 2 September 1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. Frankl was the founder of logotherapy, which is a form of existential analysis, the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy”. His best-selling book Man’s Search for MeaningÂ chronicles his experiences as a concentration camp inmate, which led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most brutal ones, and thus, a reason to continue living. Frankl became one of the key figures in existential therapy and a prominent source of inspiration for humanistic psychologists.3
Viktor Frankl used the experiences he gained while he was in the concentration camp to develop logotherapy and he also wrote a few books about what he learned. He is a very wise man and his book “Man’s Search for meaning” is worth a read. In the first half of this book He described what he experienced and in the second half he explained what he learned from this experience and how to apply it to help people. I mention this to show you that the practical application of what we find here in Scripture is effective. Viktor Frankl has applied this principle in his practice to help many people.
What the Psalmist described as pouring his soul out within him, is this analysis. If we were to examine what is written here, we see it is a three step process.
- We must first do the analysis, we basically must think about what we are thinking.
- The next step is to reflect on this to see if what we are thinking really is the truth and then we are to take control of the negative thoughts
- The third step is to renew our minds by speaking truth to ourselves.
We shall now look at each of these in a bit more detail.
Doing the analysis
Every time you experience anxiety or depression, you are to sit and write down how you feel and what you are thinking while you feel this way. In this way you are making yourself aware of your self-talk.
There is a great resource, a six week guide, available to help with this titled “Learning to tell myself the truth” by William Backus (ISBN 978-1556612909.) He is a believer and psychologist and applies this principle in his therapy. His “truth therapy” is in agreement with what we have been writing about in this article and the previous two about hope and purpose.
After we have identified our self-talk, the next step is to take those thoughts captive.
Taking every thought captive
Our thoughts play a very important roll in how we feel and what we do. We have written two previous articles about this topic “Thoughts, the battle in our minds” and “Mind control and fear.” In the first article we show you the influence of thoughts and give you some practical advice on how to control our thoughts. In the second article we show you how satan uses fear to lure us away from YHVH.
Let us look at what Paul said to the Corinthians about thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10:5
5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of Elohim, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah,
If our self-talk is negative and destructive, it falls into this category of “speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of Elohim.” Speculations are false reasoning or conclusions made which are not necessarily the truth. “Lofty” refers to haughtiness or idolatry. We can make a connection to fear here, because we can either fear YHVH or fear our circumstances or whatever threatens us. Fearing anything or anyone other than YHVH is a form of idolatry, because we give more power to that than to YHVH.
If something is against the knowledge of Elohim, it is contrary to His Word and these things are. False reasoning or false conclusions are lies and fearing anything other than YHVH, as we said, is idolatry. These are thus the thoughts we are to take captive. Interesting that these two are the greatest causes of depression and anxiety, after death of a loved one.
Before we take control of the negative thoughts, we need to address our misbeliefs. We need to reflect on our self-talk and consider whether it is truth or not. Write down your self-talk and objectively consider whether it is true or not. You will see when you look at it objectively you would recognize that it is untrue. Only when we recognize that these are misbeliefs, can we replace it with truth. We can also think about possible causes for these misbeliefs and reflect on that.
It is normal to treat our self-talk as truth, we tend to never question these beliefs we have about ourselves or our situations. We need to start questioning these beliefs and you would be surprised at what you find out about yourself. These misbeliefs we nurture about ourselves and our situation areÂ planted there to hold us back, to prevent us from living a life of purpose full of hope.
Read what Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
10 Finally, be strong in YHVH and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of Elohim, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of Elohim, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of Elohim. 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
Knowing this and the fact that we might be carrying major misbeliefs within ourselves as a result of this, I do believe this is a step in the right direction towards freedom from depression and anxiety. We have only recently started to put these principles in place and the difference is remarkable. Order yourself the six week guide “Learning to tell myself the truth” and do this. Looking back, I am amazed at how YHVH has guided us in this. We started looking into the concept of having hope and YHVH just started revealing more and more to us and having tried it ourselves, we know this could help others.
Now that we know our misbeliefs and possibly their origin, we have to take to take control of these thoughts. That is how we take it captive. We have the ability to change the direction of our thoughts and we are to do so. The next step is to replace these thoughts with the truth.
Speaking truth to ourselves
Speaking truth to ourselves is to replace the negative self-talk with YHVH’s truth in the situation.
Scripture memorization is a great way to internalize YHVH’s truth. If you have depression and anxiety in your life, study Scripture about the subject and memorize the verses that will help you change your self-talk. Replace the misbeliefs with YHVH’s truth. Last but not least, pray that YHVH would help you and guide you in this. Ask Him to expose all the misbeliefs you are nurturing about yourself and write down why it is not true. Then renew your mind and belief His truth. This will transform your life.
Here are some verses about overcoming anxiety and depression, there are many more. Find them and memorize them. Renew your mind!
1 Peter 5:6â€“7
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of Elohim, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
10 â€˜Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your Elohim. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.â€™
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to Elohim. 7 And the peace of Elohim, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Y’shua.
1 I waited patiently for YHVH; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our Elohim; Many will see and fear And will trust in YHVH.
Speaking truth to ourselves is a Biblical principle that can transform our lives. This is a process and we have to train our minds to think differently. We would like to urge you to try this and would love to have your feedback. Please let us know if this indeed helped you or not. Our next article will be about helping you form habits to ensure that this becomes a part of your life. This way the transformation would be lasting. May YHVH bless you in this and guide you to freedom from anxiety and depression.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD, and Yâ€™shua for Jesus.
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.