I Take Every Thought Captive
Lie: “This is just how it is.”
My friend Holden purchased a precious puppy with whom he fell madly in love. The fluffball napped in his lap, frolicked at his feet, and won his affection in a matter of weeks. But when Holden took the dog in for a routine procedure, his beloved pet passed away on the veterinarian’s table.
As I grieved with Holden, I imagined the death of my super-pup, Zoom. No dog lives forever, and I know that one day Zoom will pass on. Hearing my friend’s story affected my thoughts and morphed into a fixation. I convinced myself the grim reaper was coming for my puppy just as he had snatched my friend’s.
You’ve probably been caught in a mind spiral like this a time or two. A group of friends host a party, and you don’t make the guest list. Soon you’re imagining all the nasty things they were maybe, probably, definitely saying behind your back. Or a coworker outperforms you in a series of projects, and you become tormented by the idea that everyone sees you as a wash-up.
Psychologists call this “overthinking,” which describes the tendency to lose control of one’s thoughts and obsess over a situation with negative ruminations. Overthinking often springs from our deepest insecurities. These downward spirals can lead to anxiety, discouragement, even post-traumatic stress disorder. To numb the pain, many turn to binge-eating, binge drinking, binge-watching, binge-anything.
You ultimately become what you think.
You can choose to allow either life-giving or soul-sucking thoughts into your life. What you allow to bridle your mind will direct your day. No wonder God is so committed to drawing your attention back to him.
Pay attention to your inner dialogue. The simple act of recognizing negative thought spirals interrupts their progress. Next, redirect your mind. Replace those invalidating thoughts with Spirit- filled, life-giving ones. Whisper a prayer, a word of hope, a compliment, an exhale of gratitude. Recite a daily declaration, quote a scripture, sing a worship song. In doing so, you give your neural pathways the opportunity to chart a different course.
Whenever your thoughts spiral, work to identify the lie at the core of your negative thinking. Look up what Scripture says about it, denounce the lie, and declare the truth aloud with boldness. You’ll be astonished at how speaking these declarations aloud strengthens you. Remember: the neurons that fire together wire together, so you can reroute and redeem your thinking patterns.