Have you ever walked away from a group of friends because of their “bandwagon negativity”? Of course, we all have our days or situations that we need to vent about occasionally. But I’m talking chronic, habitual negativity. If you’re in a group of homeschooling parents that always go to the negative without bringing in the positive….run! That kind of negativity do you and your homeschooling no good. In fact, if you want to improve your homeschooling, improve your thinking.
Listen to this. One Monday evening, I climbed up the church steps and entered my first homeschooling support group meeting. As a complete newbie, I couldn’t wait to hear encouragement, wisdom, and support from seasoned homeschool moms!
Instead, many complained about homeschooling and how discouraged they were. Some were even talking about looking for other alternatives. What?!!! This was discouraging to me and to everyone else! Not that you can’t ever be authentic about how you’re feeling. But rather than trying to outdo each other with sad stories, this might have been a good time for a few seasoned homeschoolers to take their negative thoughts “captive” (2 Cor 10:5b) and turn the conversation around.
Why do you need to improve your thinking? Because negative thoughts lead to negative feelings which lead to negative actions.
And I don’t want you to “suffer through” homeschooling. I want you to be wildly successful! Because your thoughts influence everything.
I’ll say it again: If you want to improve your homeschooling, learn to improve your thinking.
Let me show you what I mean about how your thinking affects your actions and results.
A mom of young kids was in a car accident. It was drizzling rain, and she was pushing the speed limit to get to the grocery store and back before her hubby left for work so she could leave the kids at home instead of taking them. (If you’ve recently taken a toddler to the store, you know why she wanted to go by herself.) A traffic light was about to change, and she thought she could make it, but she turned a little too quickly and ended up sliding off the road and into a ditch. Gratefully, she was okay. But these were her thoughts:
- GREAT. What a mess. Now my whole morning is ruined. I will have to call a friend to go get the kids and watch them while I wait for a tow truck to come. Why does this stuff always happen to me?! I have the worst luck ever!
How would you guess she felt? Mad. Frustrated. Angry at God. And how do you think the rest of the day went for her (and anyone around her)? Probably not very well, right?
A mom of littles was in a car accident. It was drizzling rain, and she was rushing to get to the grocery store and back before her hubby left for work so she could leave the kids at home instead of taking them. A traffic light was about to change, and she thought she could make it, but she turned a little too quickly and ended up sliding off the road and into a ditch. Gratefully, she was okay. These were her thoughts:
- I’m so thankful the kids weren’t with me! That was terrifying, but I’m okay! Thank You, Lord, that nothing worse happened and I didn’t cause anyone else to have an accident in my rush to get to the store. I am so blessed!
So as a result of her thoughts, what was she feeling? Grateful. Happy. Fortunate. Blessed. Do you think she got home and hugged her kids? Of course, she did!
The situation was exactly the same, yet the women reacted totally differently to it.
It wasn’t the situation that caused the first momma’s problem. It was what she told herself about it.
Yes, these things are not convenient when they happen, and we are only human. But since we believe in God’s Sovereignty, we are equipped to roll with the punches.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
I know that my first reaction would be, My husband will kill me for messing up the car. But I can intentionally choose also to think, but it could have been so much worse. Choose to be grateful. If this is a struggle for you, let me encourage you that it was (and sometimes is) a struggle for me, too. But I work at it, and you can, too.
The first step is admitting that maybe you could be better at choosing to be positive.
Because negative thoughts lead to negative feelings which lead to negative actions.
Everyone’s life is hard. No one is exempt!
We all know that life deals us hard blows sometimes. No one in life is free from pain, illness, loss of loved ones, and difficult challenges. We all have to deal with suffering. No one is exempt. So we must remember God’s promise that He is Sovereign and ultimately uses our trials for our good, and growing us in the process.
But if we know this, why do we so often live as though we don’t?
Renewing your mind = improving your thoughts
We often don’t see the positive in things because we’re human! The enemy is throwing negativity at us from morning to night. And if we don’t know how to fight this, we let him do it. We don’t recognize that we are taught in Scripture to think biblically. We can learn to identify and learn to change our negative thoughts into more positive, more biblical ones. But it takes first recognizing these negative thoughts, then working to think differently.
Read these verses:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…Romans 12:2a
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ… 2 Cor 10:5
What you have learned and reecived and heard and seen in me –practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you… Phil 4:9
Do you want to improve your homeschooling? Improve your thinking.
So let’s apply this to our homeschooling.
I bet as you’ve transitioned to homeschooling from any kind of break, you’ve had many conversations with yourself. I know it’s worse at the beginning of your homeschooling adventure, but even if you’re a seasoned homeschool mom, I bet you still struggle at times with self-defeating thinking.
You’ve made a list (at least in your head) of the things you’d like to improve. Of the areas where you’ve fallen short.
- I’m not very organized. I need to be better organized this year.
- I have trouble sticking to my schedule. I make a plan and never stick to it. This year will be different.
- I let my kids push me around. They are so strong-willed, and I get tired of the constant battle, so I give in. But this year, I’m not going to do that.
Can you relate?
I remember thinking all of those things at one time or another during my homeschooling years! Not just those thoughts, but many more like that. No matter what it looked like on the outside, when I began homeschooling, on the inside, I felt like I was pretty much incapable of actually teaching my kids. That more often than not, I was failing.
And I know from experience these negative thoughts just lead only to a downward spiral of shame and defeat.
But listen to this!
Whoever trusts in [her] own mind is a fool, but [she] who walks in wisdom will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26.
God is telling us in this verse not to trust our thoughts if they don’t align with His word! The truth is, we can’t trust our thoughts. The enemy wants to keep us from feeling joy because he knows that
The joy of the Lord is our strength. Nehemiah 8:10
The enemy wants to trap us in this negative thinking, relying on our own short-sighted, negative, ungodly thoughts.
- Just like he did with Eve when he convinced her she wanted to eat that apple.
- Just like he did with Cain when he fanned the flame of Cain’s anger, so he ended up killing his brother, Abel.
- Just like he did with Sarah when he prompted her to ask her husband to sleep with Hagar instead of waiting for God to give her the child He promised.
And as is so often the case, Scripture is backed up by science
Based on brain research, we’ve learned that what you say/think/ponder about yourself leads to fulfilling the exact behavior. Your brain actually works to make your words true. So if you are telling yourself you’re bad at something all the time, guess what happens?
Let’s look at those initial bulleted thoughts from above. They are in bold type below. And they’re followed by the actions you’ll most likely perpetuate based on what you believe about yourself:
- I’m not very organized. (So you’ll continue to have problems with organization.)
- I make a plan and never stick to it. (So you’ll continue to make plans and not stick with them.)
- I let my kids push me around. They are so strong-willed, and I get tired of the constant battle, so I give in. (So you’ll continue battling your children’s poor behavior.)
Unfortunately, telling yourself that “this next semester will be different” doesn’t do much for you, unless you change how you approach this. If you want to improve your homeschooling, you’ll have to improve your thinking! I’ll give you some solutions later on in this post, but first let’s look at how thoughts affect our actions, causing us to perpetuate what we want to change.
It’s a predictable and proven cycle:
But what do you do to fix this? Keep reading to learn how to think differently. You can learn it, but it takes practice.
Let’s change the narrative!
What if instead of pondering what you fall short of and what you ‘can’t’ do, you thought of what you wanted to be?
Old thought: I’m not very organized
- New thoughts: I want to be someone who’s organized. I just don’t know how to be organized YET, but I can learn.
- New feeling: There’s hope that I COULD be someone who’s organized.
- New action: Rather than being defeated before you start, with this new thought your BRAIN works at tuning you into people, articles, blog posts, and podcasts that model or teach better organization skills. You have more motivation to learn to be organized because you are hopeful that you can succeed at this.
- Verse: Teach us to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
- Note that the word “number,” according to Strong’s, can be translated to count, reckon, number, assign, tell, appoint, or prepare)
Here are two other examples of improving your thinking:
Old thought: I make a plan and never stick to it.
- New thoughts: I want to be someone who makes a plan and sticks to it. I don’t know how to do that YET, but I can learn if I’m willing to work until I figure it out.
- New feeling: There’s hope that I could learn to make a plan and stick to it.
- New action: Your BRAIN starts giving you ideas about how to move forward. You’re motivated. You want to make and stick to a plan.
- Verse: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and a right (steadfast) spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Old thought: I let my kids push me around because I’m tired and always give in.
- New thoughts: I want to be someone who doesn’t let her kids push her around. I want to give instructions and have my children listen and obey me.
- New feeling: I’m determined to figure this out and get help to learn how to train my children better to listen and get their work done.
- New action: Your BRAIN gives you a vision of what homeschooling could be like with you in the driver’s seat instead of your kids. That will motivate you to get the help you need to make this happen.* (Although this issue often needs the support of others in prayer, modeling how they accomplish this, or a coach/professional to walk with you through the learning and practice of learning to train your kids more effectively.)
- Verses: Train up a Child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
- Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. Proverbs 29:17
- Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech… Titus 2: 7-8a
And of course, sometimes there are more serious issues with your children that require the intervention of a professional, such as an occupational therapist for sensory issues, a counselor, or a therapist for anxiety or anger issues. If you think this might be the case with your family, check with your child’s Primary Care Provider to see who might be best to help you and/or your child.
You can learn to improve your thinking and therefore improve your homeschooling — so tell yourself that. Write it down every day. Substitute new thoughts for the old ones.
Don’t blow this off! TRY IT.
Even if you feel as though you’ve tried before and failed. You just might need to get some help from someone who can mentor you or help your child in some way. And that’s perfectly fine! There’s no shame in meeting the morning on your knees and praying for yourself and your kids. And there’s no shame in asking for help if you need it.
Speak life-giving words to yourself
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
There is no condemnation in Christ, would you agree? So if you believe that, you must frequently tell yourself that you do. You try so hard to bring your kids’ homeschool education to life. But you have to start with yourself. You can do this, but it might take hard work and practice. I believe in you!
It’s so much easier to speak life-giving words to your kids and others than it is to speak them to yourself, isn’t it?
But I guarantee if you habitually speak more positively to yourself, you will feel more positive and hopeful. And if you feel more positive and hopeful, you’ll be more joyful, less fearful, and more at peace. Additionally, you’ll help your children learn to be more optimistic about themselves and their abilities.
Again, this reminds me of Romans 12:2:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
If your mind is telling you anything that stands against the fact that we are beloved daughters of the King of kings, you need to renew your mind through God’s word! So marinate on the verses below by writing them, journaling about them, and memorizing them. You might even look special verses up in their original languages and then rewrite them using the expanded meanings. I love the Blue Letter Bible app for that! You can get it in the iPhone App Store, or access the site on blueletterbible.org.
Bible verses that will help you improve your thinking (and improve your homeschooling)
Speak these verses to yourself. Memorize those that especially speak to you. Choose one or more and have them pop up on your phone at strategic times in your day. (iPhones can do that through the “Reminders” app; I’d also think Android phones would have a way of doing that.)
- My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2
- Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a
- Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
- Anxiety weighs down the heart of a man, but a good word cheers it up. Proverbs 12:25
- He gives power to the faint, and to home who has no might, He increases strength. Isaiah 40:29
- I know that You can do all things and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2
- Ah, Sovereign LORD, You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You. Jeremiah 32:17
- And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
- Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
- For You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Psalm 71:5
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
- But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
- Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
- Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! Psalm 31:24
- For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Exactly how does improving your thinking improve your homeschooling?
- You will be happier and calmer if you feel more hopeful about yourself and your abilities.
- If you’re happier and calmer, you’ll be a more relaxed, confident teacher and give your kids more confidence in you as their teacher. (And you’ll just be more fun to be around!)
- You won’t be afraid to try new things or experiment with new ways of teaching your kids.
- You’ll be less SELF-focused and more child-focused (in a good way).
- If you believe more in yourself, you’ll be more apt to speak more positively to your children.
- If your thinking buoys you up instead of dragging you down, you’ll have more energy and enthusiasm for homeschooling.
- Being more confident in your abilities goes a long way in helping you to learn along with your children when necessary.
So would you like to learn the secret to having a happier, more peaceful homeschooling experience? Then learn how to improve your thinking.
If you have other friends struggling with negative thoughts about themselves and their homeschooling, (and I know you do!), please use the sharing buttons beneath my signature and share this post!
A thousand thanks!