I’ve been thinking a lot about how our thoughts can affect our attitude, or behavior, and our relationships. I wanted to share with you how important it is to ask God to help us control our thoughts throughout the day, and I found this wonderful example of how we can do that.
It is from Coach Don at 365toChange.
It is a great illustration of how we can work on controlling our thoughts and exchanging our negative thoughts to positive ones.
Question! Have you recently had to battle negative or discouraging thoughts in your mind?
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’s 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.”
How good is that?! I am going to use many of these suggestions this week as I face my own negative thoughts. I am going to “self talk” out loud God’s truth so that my mind has to shut up and listen. :)
And I am going to remember all that God has done, and all that He will do in my future, and then smile. :)
I am also going to lessen the negative things that are going in my mind whether it be from the tv, music, or people. I have a choice of what goes in my mind, and I am going to choose what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy!
I pray you have a wonderful week, friends!