Updated: Mar 5
Thoughts are powerful! They influence our actions far more than external circumstances ever could. Our thoughts have the power to propel us forward, but they also have the propensity to pull us back. They can prepare us to fulfill our purpose, or they can prevent us from doing so.
So why do we not pay closer attention to our patterns of thinking? Perhaps we are so accustomed to our way of thinking that we are convinced it is just the way we are wired. There is a merit of truth to that. For example, our natural inclination often falls on the side of negative thinking versus positive thinking. When faced with new and challenging situations most people will tend to think “I can’t do that” versus “I can”. That first response comes from a place of fear and it’s easier to assume an “I can’t” attitude versus an “I can” one. Or is that just me? I do not think so. I have heard too many people express this truth. But to always default to an “I can’t” position one would have to assume that we can have no control over our thoughts. I beg to differ. While we cannot control the thoughts that automatically come to our mind, we can control which thoughts we choose to dwell on. I like to explain it this way, while I can’t control the thoughts that initially come to my mind, I can decide not to park on that thought. I often say, “Ok, I’m not going to park here.” Let the thought pass on through, don’t issue it a parking permit.
I must thank a dear friend for helping me come to the realization that I can change the way I think. I was just a young teenager when a friend confronted me with a harsh realization, I had a tendency towards negative thinking and enjoyed throwing myself pity parties. That hurt and I didn’t want to believe it. But it was true! Can anyone relate? Things go wrong, circumstances disappoint, and suddenly the voice in our mind starts to play a reel that typically sounds like this, “Nothing ever goes right for me. No one understands me. I’m so stupid. Why can’t I get anything right? I must be cursed. Things are never going to work out.” Sound familiar?
Negative self-talk is destructive and initiates a downward spiral of additional negative thinking that paralyzes with intense fear. And it is all based on a lie, the lie that says we can’t control our thoughts. But the truth opposes and exposes the lie. We can control our thoughts. We get to choose which thoughts to “grow” and which to “let go.” We get to take captive any negative thought that sabotages our life’s purpose. We also get to create and cultivate positive thoughts to combat negative ones.
Ever since my teenage years, I have been learning to replace the old negative narrative with a positive one. I have certainly gotten better with it through the years, but I am still just a work in progress. As are we all. But this I know, as we practice positive self-talk we gradually begin to train our brain to see things from a new perspective. The results reap benefits for everyone.
I like to replace my negative narrative with principles of truth. When I start getting stuck on negative thoughts, I change the channel and tune in to a new storyline that includes these beautiful scriptures:
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Romans 12:2)
“Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about such things that are excellent and praiseworthy.” (Philippians 4:8)
“Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” (Philippians 4:13)
I also focus on positive encouraging quotes to reassure me and to help me load a new playlist in my mind. My new soundtrack sounds like this:
“Step into what’s next.”
“My feelings do not dictate my destiny.”
Transformation is not a one-and-done.”
I have made it a practice to write out encouraging scriptures and quotes on flashcards, and in journals, and I post them in significant places to remind myself to reject the lies and embrace the truth. I have even created screensavers and photos with quotes to have on my phone and computer. Always keep the positive present before you!
So, the important question to consider is this, do your thoughts help you or hurt you? Carefully answer that question and then determine what changes you might need to make to create a more positive playlist in your head that will propel you forward instead of paralyzing you. If you are looking for some practical ways to control your thoughts check out this article from the Mayo Clinic. Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk - Mayo Clinic
Meanwhile, wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine!