Hello Reader! That’s right, you don’t have to think that thought. Or that other one that keeps coming around you don’t feel good about.
Pull a citizen’s arrest and put it behind bars.
Just because a thought pops into your head, you don’t have to let it stay there. Especially if it’s one of those thoughts that means to harm you in some way. We all have those thoughts that center around a theme of discouraging, distracting or depressing us. Each of us have unique thoughts that fall into these categories while many of us share similar thoughts. They might sound like, “what are you going to do about…”, “you probably want to do this instead…”, “you didn’t step up to the plate when this happened in your past so why even try now?”. Some of those thoughts sound weak at first but always have these themes of intention.
What’s so dangerous about thoughts with those themes? Well if you are plugging along in your day and THAT thought comes in, either immediately or slowly one or several of these things happen: your energy drains, you might feel distracted, or you might begin to even wonder “why bother”. They also typically lead you to feeling anxious, tired or cynical.
When any of these things happen you stop living with purpose and hope. These thoughts also stop you from offering compassion, kindness, and patience. That’s why they are so dangerous.
These thoughts that need to be locked away and have the key thrown away are only out to destroy your life, one thought at a time. A life of purpose happens one decision at a time and a life that gets distracted and drifts off course happens one thought at a time. Thoughts come before decisions of acting or speaking. Proverbs 21 talks about the wise person who tears down and overpowers strong things. You are a wise person, now overpower that dangerous thought with a super power.
Use these steps to arrest the thought
Set a standard – There is a set of standards for those who choose to have a mind focused on purpose, hope and loving others well. Proverbs 3:21 talks about guarded clear thinking and common sense; 13 talks about wise people thinking before acting; 15 shares the godly think before speaking. In Romans 8 we are encouraged to be thinking only of things that please the Holy Spirit. Then in Philippians we are exhorted to “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This is just after we are given a step-by-step of how to bring our anxieties to God. That standard is clear but not easy. We can’t do it on our own and that’s where a solid re-direct comes in to help you release the emotion with the thought.
Maintain a solid re-direct – When the thought comes in, your standard alarm goes off and tells you there is an intruder. Acknowledge the thought and the feelings it begins to elicit. You will need to experiment with a solid re-direct to determine what works best for you. Then tell yourself one of the following:
- Stop! I am not thinking that. Instead I will think about… because I know… (and use one of the possible options listed above).
- This is anxiety provoking but I will think about it at X o’clock. Until then I am focused on what is before me.
- I do feel concerned about this but I know that I have done what is needed and the people who are helping me are also doing what is needed.
- I feel the emotions rising with this thought but I know for sure that God is my Good Shepherd so I do not fear, worry or wonder.
- I hear you thought but we are not talking. You are not helpful.
And my personal favorite:
- God this thought came back again. I can’t get rid of it on my own. Help me with it. I choose to think about what you said in… (fill in blank with a verse that you feel good about and applies for you here with this thought) because I know you are trustworthy.
What would it look like if you didn’t allow certain thoughts to walk with you through you day? If you want to enjoy the abundant life you are designed by God’s grace to experience, then certain thoughts don’t get to join you on the journey.
You can challenge the invitation of any thought that doesn’t line up with the standards. Arrest that thought, put it behind the bars of God’s standards. Give Jesus the key and tell him the thought only get’s out if he says so. Sorry that was a bit cheesy, but I love the image of giving the Author of the universe power over thoughts that bully me.
What thought will you arrest today?
Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC-S is counselor, coach and creative who is passionate about people. She directs the Streams Counseling Center in Austin, Texas and co-leads the non-profit Renue.Me whose mission is to invest in the dreams of leaders in underprivileged communities around the world. Connect with her at www.lizlawrencelpc.com or www.renue.me
- Photo from author at Alcatraz island