Question! Have you recently had to battle negative or discouraging thoughts in your mind?
Live Periscope event coming in late March or early April of 2016. Read at the bottom of this article for details.
If you have, you’re not alone. Recently and in the past, I have had a few battles with negative thoughts of my own. Many times these thoughts come out of nowhere. You may know the kind of thoughts that I am talking about. Those thoughts that begin as you look at a problem or issue and before long you’re on the road of fear or worry. The thoughts begin with one single thought and then as your mind begins to turn it over, you begin to lose altitude, you begin to lose your joy. It something how your thoughts can go from being random to being filled with seeds of worry and fear. You may even find yourself beginning to get angry at someone, maybe even God Himself. Many times if these thoughts go unchecked, you will find yourself later in a pit of negativity that can quickly drain your soul of hope, life and energy. The question is, how do we stop those thoughts before they become an attitude or a mindset? How do we replace them with positive life giving thoughts?
A few years back I was riding my bicycle on one of my longer rides. During that ride, I was having my own battle with my inner thought life. I can’t remember how it started, but before long I was in full-blown worry. It seemed the longer I rode, the more I was worrying about a situation that now I can no longer even remember. What is so crazy about worry is that probably 99% of what we worry about never comes to pass. It’s like paying interest on a loan we never take out. Well as I battling those negative thoughts that I can no longer remember I came up to the intersection pictured below.
When you look at the picture what do you see? While the stop sign really sticks out, I want to take you through the progression of what I saw and how it taught me two things that would help me overcome the negative thoughts I was having.
First key: I could see that the road ended straight ahead. It was obvious that all the signs were there to keep me from continuing my current journey. If I would have kept going straight, I would have hit a tree or a stump, in short I would have been hurt. I needed to STOP!
It doesn’t matter how you got on the road of negative thoughts, it just matters that you get off and get off as quickly as possible.”
Second Key: In order to actually get off the road of negative thoughts, you have to slow them down before you can totally stop and replace them. It is almost impossible to shift negative thinking in an instant. If you try to do that you may find yourself in a endless inner battle of trying not to think at all, which you will lose at every time. It will take time!
How to Stop!
I stop them by talking out loud to myself. Not just any kind of talk, but talk that is in the direction that I want to turn my thinking toward. Self-talk that is almost always completely contrary to what I am currently thinking. I may quote a truth from the Bible or just say the opposite of what is being said in my mind. Sometimes I even have to lecture myself.
Why do I do this? I do this because I win the battle of my thoughts, not with other thoughts, but with spoken words. My mind can’t think when my voice is speaking, it has to listen. Great spoken words are the brakes to endless negative thinking.
Words override thoughts every time! Try it the next time your battling a thought that is taking you down the road of worry and doubt. Find a promise or scripture in God’s word and speak it out loud to yourself. While the worry may not go completely away, the endless thoughts that were feeding it will be hard to find while you are talking.
How to Turn!
I begin new positive thoughts by choosing which direction to go. Look at the picture above. Turning to the left represented my positive past: those memories and reflections of past wonderful things that God had blessed my life with. Turning to the right represented my hopeful future, or things that I could look forward to and even dream about as a child of God. It was my choice! I could go left or right, but in terms of turning my thoughts, both ways would give me better thoughts to think on then the ones I was battling.
I literally chose left and with that I began to shift my thinking to a time where I could remember some huge victories that God brought in my life. I also found myself thinking of a wonderful vacation that I had that same year with my family. Then, I actually found myself not struggling with the worry that I had dealt with earlier, I actually started to smile. A smile is nothing more that just a stream of good and wonderful thoughts that have found a way to sneak outside!
All of us will have to deal with problems and issues where we need to think about it and work through it. It is important that we see the difference between sorting through an issue for a solution and choosing to just worry. Learn the difference and when your thoughts are getting out of control, learn how to stop them and replace them by things that are better to think about.
I love what God has said in his word about our thoughts. One of my favorite scriptures is taken from Philippians 4: 8-9: It really sums everything up.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
If you are battling a negative thought life, I want you to know that you can do this! You can break the cycle with God’s help! Please feel free to message me or post a comment if you would like for me to pray for you. I look forward to hearing your comments and praying for you as you overcome and win the battle!
I will be doing a live Periscope event during the month of late March or early April on this very subject of how you overcome negative thinking. If you have periscope app on your computer or phone and can follow me for that event, I would love to know. Please email me a comment if you would like to know the date of that event and how to follow me. Please leave your email address so I can email you directly.