“Good Behavior Beats Bad Thinking”

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.                                                                                                      II Corinthians 4:8-9

One of the phrases I often use with clients is “good behavior beats bad thinking”. What I mean by that is, we are often beset by thoughts which are disturbing, and that we may feel are out of control. Anxiety will do that. Thoughts can take on a life of their own, and they often depart from rationality. Anxiety, after all is typically irrational. Worry can be based in reality, but anxiety transcends rational thought and becomes “worry about worry”.

The antidote to anxiety is control. There is nothing wrong with control, it’s just that there are a lot of things we cannot control. So, I think we should try to control all the things that we can reasonably control to lower our anxiety.

One of the things that we CAN control is our behavior. We can do things which can give us a sense of comfort and security, even when our thoughts may tell us otherwise. I tell my clients to come up with their list of behaviors that they can count on when thoughts get out of control.

There are behaviors which can directly help our anxious state, such as preparation for a dreaded event (that exam, that interview, etc.), talking things over with a trusted friend for support, and making sure that we maintain our physical and spiritual health.

There are also behaviors which can just be diversions- things like watching a movie, running or walking, reading, playing a game, or a host of other activities which may just take our mind off the current spiraling thoughts.

So, good behavior can overcome bad thoughts. We do have more control than we might think about how we can respond to anxious times. Controlling the things that we can control is not a bad thing. We just need to know the difference about what is truly under our control and what is not.

Prayer: Lord, you would have us to be anxious for nothing, but our human minds struggle with that. We know that you are present in the troubled times, Amen

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