If you’re anything at all like me, you can tend to battle obsessive thoughts. I’ve heard it called monkey mind, mind on fire, or swirly panic. It’s when a thought (or more than one) fills your mind and you feel as if you can’t not think that thought, like the thought is in charge of you instead of vice versa. And typically, it’s not a good, happy, fun thought. It’s usually, you know, negative or sad or harsh words from your past or huge worries about the future.
I’m going to give a few simple – but not easy – steps to begin the hard work of controlling our thoughts, or as Scripture refers to it, taking our thoughts captive for Christ.
Step one: Choose a Scripture verse or a Scripture-based mantra. Either something along the general lines of Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you.” Or something more specific if you already know what you tend to dwell on…something that addresses your particular brand of obsessiveness, like, “I am precious and honored in your sight and you love me” (from Isaiah 43) for times when you’re being spoken to unkindly or rehearsing all the cruel words from your past.
Step two: Write that Scripture or mantra on several post-its and place them around your home where you’ll see them regularly.
Step three: Memorize that Scripture or mantra.
Okay, the groundwork has been laid. Think of this as picking up your spiritual and emotional armor. This phrase will be your shield.
Then, when the thought enters your mind…
Step one: Say outloud if you’re alone or silently if you’re not, “STOP.” Yes, it may feel silly or uncomfortable but it’s important.
Step two: Take some deep breaths.
Step three: Say outloud if you’re alone or silently if you’re not, your pre-memorized Scripture or mantra. Outloud is best if at all possible for a couple reasons. One, you will be saying it and hearing it, doubling its power. And two, since they say that our enemy can’t read our minds, saying Scripture outloud will make him aware that you mean business and states your beliefs clearly.
Step four: Repeat as necessary.
This will take practice and perseverance. We are literally rewiring our brains here, creating new neural pathways between synapses, digging new ruts, each time we replace lies with Truth, each time we stop an old habitual thought and replace it with a new one.
Here’s how I know you can do this though:
Let’s wrestle those monkeys to the ground and banish them, shall we? There is too much goodness and beauty in this world to focus on, and girl, you’ve got an abundant life to live and lots of good works to do! Eyes on Jesus!
If you’re feeling stuck and want to move forward, let’s work together.