What Are You Thinking?
How we think is critical!
One barrier that prevents us from experiencing freedom is negative thinking. W. Clement Stone wrote:
“Bondage is - subjection to external influences and internal negative thoughts and attitudes.”
It’s not easy, but I work hard to turn my negative thinking to a positive outlook. The messages I received (intentional and unintentional) as a child encouraged me to see the glass as half-empty, rather than full. You can read about it here.
“How we think” matters because our thinking shapes our life!
Solomon teaches: “Be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life” (Proverbs 4:23 (NCV).
Our thoughts and values determine the way we see ourselves and the world around us. Thoughts sown in the soil of pessimism negatively affect our emotions, feelings, mental and spiritual health, yielding a harvest of anxiety and spiritual disorders.
If you’re inclined to negative thinking, here are some things that help me:
1. Ask the question: What am I thinking?
When I’m deep in thought, my wife, Vicki, will ask me: What are you thinking? Her question causes me to stop and think about what I’m thinking.
Like a numbness that dulls my sensitivity, it’s easy for me to “drift” without being aware of what I’m “thinking.”
The mind is always active, creating various thoughts. We can’t stop them. However, we can learn how to think about what we’re thinking!
Without an intentional, conscious act on our part to identify and control our thoughts, they become an irritating loop, creating continual angst.
“What are you thinking,” is an essential question for each of us to ask ourselves — frequently!
2. Remember: Thoughts are just thoughts.
Not every thought I have is wholesome. Some of the things that go through my head shocking: “Where did that thought come from,” I wonder!
Virtuous thoughts are not the only musings that are in our brain. Impure, corrupt, and evil notions cross our minds as well.
If you have never had an un-wholesome or perverted impression, you can stop reading now! For the rest of us, it will be helpful to continue to read on.
Although we may have no control over what thoughts are generated, we do have jurisdiction as to what we choose to do with them!
Not every notion or impression is noble or accurate. And, not every thought deserves our time and energy.
We will never escape negative thoughts. They can be like an endless loop that plays over-and-over. However, we are not obliged to become negative thinkers!
3. Understand: Your mind is the devil’s playground.
My mother would often remind me: “Richard, your mind is the devil’s playground.” She was right.
Cartoons typically picture the devil as a red horned being with a long tail and pitchfork. Paul, the apostle, finds no humor in, nor does he take Satan’s opposition against us lightly. He (Paul) recognizes that we are in a war:
“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Our enemy’s desire is to tempt, deceive, and delude us. And, his strategy of warfare takes place in our mind. However, the apostle Paul also reminds us we have weapons to combat our enemy:
“… the weapons of our warfare are not merely human, but they have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments, and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ ” [Emphasis mine].
It’s up to each of us to take every thought and submit it to the purpose of Christ.
4. Choose thoughts worth entertaining!
Thoughts have no power to control us unless we permit them to do so! Just because a feeling presents itself, does not require me to give it attention.
So, how do we know which thoughts to entertain and which ones to reject? Paul writes:
“…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.” [Italics mine]
Letting go of negative thinking frees us to discover the quality of life God desires for us.
What negative thoughts dominate and control your life? How are you confronting negative thinking? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts.
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Eph 6:12.
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), 2 Co 10:4–5.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Php 4:8.