“Why aren’t you in a padded cell babbling like a lunatic?” a Christian psychologist asked me after he listened to my testimony at a chapel service in New York. This kind man couldn’t comprehend how I overcame my abusive childhood, the death of my son Chris, and life-threatening cancer to accept God’s full-time ministry assignment to encourage and inspire people from all walks of life.

We sat facing one another at a small metal table in the cafeteria. I wrapped both hands around the steaming cup of coffee in front of me and glanced into his eyes.

“A padded cell never occurred to me,” I joked.

I explained to him that I lived the first half of my life with low self-esteem, disrespect toward others, as well as discontent with my life. Why? I blamed others—my dysfunctional family, my friends, and even strangers—for my party-girl lifestyle and negative attitude. Then in 1983, I rededicated my life to Jesus. Doing so turned my world inside out and set me free from my past to pursue my God-filled future. I prayed for a new life, and God changed me from the inside out.

God transformed my stinkin’ thinkin’ to healthy, positive thinking—a thought life filled with peace and a right relationship with Jesus. My attitude transformation process was not an overnight miracle. Rather, it is a lifelong journey.

Stinkin’ thinkin’ stalks us. It lurks everywhere. It waits for an opportune time to attack us during our moments of weakness. Between foreclosure notices and layoffs, political rifts, and personal and professional setbacks, we’re all susceptible to negative thoughts.  That’s why our thought life is the very place to begin a positive perspective revival—one without excuses. Throughout my new attitude journey, I discovered that our minds continually process both negative and positive thoughts. Those stinkin’ negative thoughts stem from three primary areas:

1. I stink: Low self-esteem and a sense of worthlessness—no inner peace.

2. You stink: Poor others viewpoint—no peace with others.

3. Life stinks: Bitterness—no peace with self or others.

Notice that each of the three “stinks” result in a life void of peace with oneself and others. God desires that we possess peace, so we’ve got to get rid of the stinkin’ thinkin’.  Rephrasing our thoughts and focusing on Truth helps us eliminate the stench of negativity. Here are the three “stink” phrases reworded with biblical truth and life application.

1. I am loved. Jesus loves me just as I am, but He loves me too much to leave me that way. God created me for a personal love relationship with Him. I have peace because Jesus loves me and I love Him.

Paraphrased read-aloud Bible verses:

I believe the Word of God (Psalms 19:9).

I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14).

God is for me and that’s all that matters (Romans 8:31).

2.  I can love others. Jesus sees the good in me, so I will keep my mouth shut until I find something good to say about another person. Jesus loves my family and friends just as much as He loves me. 

Paraphrased read-aloud Bible verses:

I will not pass judgment on others (1 Corinthians 4:5).

I will be kind and compassionate to others (Ephesians 4:32).

I will forgive those who have sinned against me (Ephesians 4:32).