Dear Pastor Lily
How do I stop negative thinking? I’ve been struggling with my thoughts, they just seem to be on this awful loop. I think things like, “OMG, I’m so stupid, I can’t believe I just said that, someone please shoot me now”. Or ”Why did I bother to come here, no one likes me, I’m such a loser, I need to just leave”. The problem is that I know these are lies, but I can’t get them out of my head. I feel like there is this war going on inside of me and I’m losing the battle and that scares me. I wish I could just make it stop! Sometimes it gets really dark and I start to wonder why I’m even alive. I hate it. I can’t enjoy anything. Please help!
You can stop negative thinking, but it’s going to take a lot of work and prayer. The Bible tells us that we must take every thought captive.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5
That means you have the power and authority to overrule your thoughts. They are demonic and as a child of God, you have within you the ability to cast them out. However, I strongly recommend that you seek the help of a church that has a good deliverance ministry. Becuase even though you have the right to expel them, you might not have the strength now.
Using our God-given authority takes practice. It’s like any other muscle and if it’s not used consistently it can become week. Or in your case, it might be exhausted because this has been a daily battle and you’re feeling run down.
Don’t fight this battle alone.
There’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. Many people all around you are also fighting this battle, and God is looking for opportunities to heal and restore. He will use the church to help you, but He might also use the assistance of Doctors and medication as well if this is a chronic issue that has a biological component to it.
Many wonderful men and women of God have struggled with depression and even suicidal thoughts. It doesn’t mean that they’re not saved or that they don’t love God, or that God doesn’t love them. It’s simply evidence that we live in a broken world and Satan will take advantage of every opportunity to kill steal and destroy.
Sheila Walsh is a beautiful example of someone who is sharing her own story of coping with clinical depression while leading people to Christ. Her message is very inspiring and I would encourage you to watch it. I also want to give you 5 strategies you can use to stop the cycle of negative thinking.
5 strategies to stop negative thoughts
Science has shown that the more we think about something the harder it is to stop. We see examples of this all the time. If you’re falling in love with someone, you can’t stop thinking about them. Or if someone says something mean, you will repeat their words in your head over and over. Maybe you regret something you did and that memory keeps come back to you again and again. Therefore we must begin to actively tell our brains what they should think about.
Sometimes our minds are like a wandering puppy and it’s our job to train it to come back when called. Click To Tweet The Bible confirms that we have the power to choose our thoughts.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you”. – Philippians 4:8-9
Here are 5 of the best practical things you can do today to help you regain control of your mind and stop dwelling on negative thoughts.
1. Take your brain down memory lane.
This is one of my favorites methods for slowing down and redirecting my thoughts and I often use it when my brain is wound up and I’m trying to fall asleep at night. I begin to take a mental walk through my grandmother’s house. I haven’t been there in over 20 years but I try to recall as many details as possible. Starting at the back door I go up the little flight of carpeted stairs and walk into the kitchen. I notice the color of the tiles, the kitchen table where I use to color under as a little girl. My favorite cassette was kept in that drawer. There’s my grandmother, I can picture her making jello or a cake for later.
This exercise is one that I love because my grandmother’s house was a sanctuary for me when I was a child. That house is full of warm loving memories. It’s easy for me to take myself back to that place and spend hours going over the details.
Choose a place that symbolizes peace and love for you and spends sometime mentally walking around in it. Allow yourself to enjoy all the love and comfort you experience in that place once more.
2. Get in good company.
Sometimes you just need to get out and around people who will make you laugh. If you’re depressed and you’re stuck with a roommate that’s a grump, and your boss is a grouch and your coworker is constantly moping they can bring you down pretty quickly.
Make an effort to get around people who can laugh and encourage you. Schedule time with them on a regular basis. This is where church activities can be vital. If there are some friendly smiley people in your church ask them what programs or ministries they’re involved in, and offer to join or help. Being around optimistic people who know how to enjoy life can rub off on you and help you become more optimistic too.
3. Thrown them into the depths.
I’ve found this one to be really good on those days when you just feel blue. Go for a walk, and find a body of water; a pond, stream, lake etc. Choose a pleasant spot and find several small stones. Assign a negative thought to each of those rocks. You could even bring a marker with you and write the thoughts and words on each rock.
Then, one by one throw those rocks into the water. As they are sinking, pray that God would cover those thoughts with the Blood of Christ just like the water is covering the rocks. That they would be lost and forgotten.
4. Meditate on the word of God
Find scriptures that will encourage you and meditate on them. Each week I pick one scripture to meditate on. I choose a single verse that will encourage me and help me with whatever I am dealing that week. Then each morning I set a timer and sit up straight and repeat that verse over and over to myself. I focus on each word in the verse. I think about it as God’s promise to me.
By doing this I am training my brain to focus on the promises of God. I am renewing my mind and enjoying my daily bread. I pair this with prayer and reading one chapter from the Bible and it is a beautiful way to start my day.
And, if a situation comes up and I’m feeling frustrated I can go back to that verse. I will repeat it to myself instead of letting my mind obsesses on negative thoughts. This can be especially helpful in bad traffic, long grocery lines and when small children are crying.
5. Give thanks.
It’s hard to dwell on the negative when you’re appreciating your life and the blessings you’ve been given. Each night before I go to bed, I sit down and write out a few things that I am thankful for. It’s like a journal entry but I only focus on what I appreciate from the last 24 hours. Maybe it’s something my kids did or a kind gesture done by someone at church. Sometimes I’m just glad that it’s bedtime and I get to go to sleep.
I also think that this is an excellent family activity. Imagine having volumes of gratitude journals that were created by the whole family on a daily or weekly basis. That’s something that would be a treasure to your children when they are older. Keep a gold gel pen handy for those times when something miraculous happens. The more you stop to take note of the miracles all around you the more miracles will occur.
There you have it, 5 ways to stop negative thinking. Of course, I would encourage you to pray and be creative and come up with more things that you can do to put a pause on negative thoughts.
Let’s talk about this!
What have you done to stop negative thoughts in your life?
Share your suggestions and ideas in the comments below.
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