We all have bad thoughts. Some of us more than others. They can range from a long list of thoughts such as: depressing, condemning, lonely, unclean, comparative or even unworthy. Let me be clear, these are not from God. For some, the battle in the mind is constant and keeps you from focusing on what is truly important. For others, the thoughts are so strong that they have caused you to lose a sense of reality and become reckless in your ability to make good decisions. Yet for some, it’s more circumstantial and when bad things happen, bad thoughts are soon to follow. This is a continual battle we all have to face, and regardless of where you are, we can agree that thoughts are real and hard to subdue. How do we cope with these thoughts and somehow get them under control? I’d like to introduce three things that can help you as you deal with unhealthy thoughts.
The first thing you must do is recognize them. This may sound simple, but too often we have allowed negative, unhealthy thoughts to pervade our minds for so long that we no longer recognize them as negative. They quickly become normalized and we begin saying this is “how we think” or “how we are.” What we need to realize is unhealthy thoughts are ungodly thoughts. They do not align themselves with God’s word and His plan for our lives. Constant wrong thinking leads to unhealthy thought patterns, which leads to unhealthy behavior. Therefore it is imperative we recognize them for what they are and stop them immediately.
After you recognize the unhealthy thought, you must learn to quickly reject it. This is where your fight begins. II Corinthians 10:5 says we are to “…take every thought captive to obey Christ.” When you hear terms like “captive” in scripture, the situation is serious. We must learn to take very seriously the health of our minds and our thinking. We do not have the luxury of allowing ungodly thoughts to linger in our minds without consequence. If we allow unhealthy thoughts to remain unchecked, they will inevitably lead to unhealthy behaviors which will affect such things as meaningful relationships and compromise your own spiritual growth. Negative thoughts have the potential to steal your peace and cause you misery. Refuse to give them power over you, reject them with no mercy.
The last thing you must do to find true freedom, is replace unhealthy thoughts with God’s word. The way to replace an ungodly thought is to identify what God’s word says concerning that situation and meditate on that truth. Imagine something horrible happens to you like you get a flat tire. At this point you have options on how to process this information. Here is an unhealthy way to process this information, “My life is miserable, nothing good ever happens for me!” Here’s a way to replace that thought with God’s word, “II Thessalonians 3:3 says you ‘protect me from the evil one’. Lord even though I have a flat tire, thank you for keeping me safe!” Don’t allow unhealthy thoughts to linger in your mind and steal your contentment. God is always good, and a flat tire or any other mishap doesn’t change that reality. You must learn to replace unhealthy thoughts immediately.
Here’s the reality, we will be bombarded with unhealthy thoughts constantly. But each time we notice our minds wandering to a place where discouragement, lust, fear, anger or negativity reside; we have the power to choose to reject those unhealthy thoughts and replace them with God’s word. Proverbs 23:7 says it well, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” Your thinking determines your success in this life. If you think right, you can live right. This takes time and it takes practice, but I’m praying for you to become diligent in recognizing, rejecting and replacing unhealthy thoughts.