By: Julie Mitchell
Have you ever been told that you are negative? Well, I have When my husband, Jeff, informed me of this, I had to stop and think for a moment. I said to myself, “I don’t think anyone else would say that about me; if I am negative with him, maybe I have a right to be; why am I am so unsettled right now?” But that day I got a news flash to my brain: I am negative and I don’t want to be any more. If I am only being negative around him, that makes me negative and a nag. The next morning I decided to do something about it. After praying(I’m learning this involves a lot more listening than talking) and seeking truth in this area, I committed to making a change with this negative thinking and talk that I did around him. Now I am still a work in progress, but I can say through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of truth, that I am much better at taking those thoughts captive when they arise in my thinking (2 Corinthians 10:5). That morning I put a voice memo on my phone with positive prayers and statements that I listened to daily that helped put new thoughts in my brain, body, and life. After about a month, I felt a sense of accomplishment coming from changes in negative thinking and talk to positive ones, but even better…I have peace…which to me is priceless!
5 Steps to Overcoming Toxic Thinking
- Recognize your toxic thoughts. If you find yourself regularly beating yourself up for something you’ve done or not done, chances are very high that you have toxic thinking. Or maybe you are constantly focusing on other people’s faults and it drives you to frustration…there is probably toxic thinking behind that too. Emotions are not right or wrong, we have every right to feel something but it’s what we do with it that will effect our life. If you’ve been wronged, you don’t have to turn that emotion into a toxic one. It is possible to turn in a direction toward healthy responses no matter what. All healthy emotions/responses stem from LOVE but all toxic emotions/responses stem from FEAR. You can’t be in both worlds at the same time. It is important to remember what God says about ALL of us: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female (ALL of us…no one is left out!) He created them.” Genesis 1:27 We are called to love like God loves. We are wired for that. Matthew 5:48
- Take time to reflect on what is behind this toxic thinking. There is a driving force behind these toxic thoughts that will take directed effort to overcome it. The brain will follow behind what the mind is telling it, not the other way around. You can literally perform brain surgery…that thought can be removed by your efforts. It’s called neuroplasticity. This is disciplined thinking using your intellect with body and emotional awareness. Philippians 4:8 “Think on those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and worthy of praise.”
- Write it down. Once you’ve recognized the problem thinking, writing it down helps you process through to see it more clearly. When you let a toxic thought move from your head to paper, solutions are easier to recognize too. Proverbs 16:9 “The mind of man makes his plans but the Lord directs his steps.”
- Develop a plan. As you look at the issue before you, gently explore solutions to it allowing your mind to ponder. I believe asking the Holy Spirit for specific directions of how to move away from this way of thinking will bring lasting results. Next write down the solution that presented itself to you. Ephesians 4:21-24 “When you heard about Christ and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus, you were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
- Activate the plan. Talk is cheap. Doing is the key, isn’t it? Since you’ve got the plan, use it during the day. You don’t know when situations will arise during the day that cause you to move toward this toxic way of processing life, but when it does you will be able to actively deal with it. This will help you in the process of moving the toxic thought or reaction into a healthy one that can forever change your mind, body and spirit towards balanced wellness. Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
How would our life change if we did this daily? Our thoughts filter through our brain and then express themselves physically in our body, which in turn affect all the choices we make. Changing our thought life changes our life. We are given free will to choose anything because we are deeply loved by God, who gave us His very son Jesus to pay the price for our sinful ways that stem from toxic thinking. No matter what is happening in our life that is stressful or difficult, we are always given a way of escape. It begins with being aware of what thoughts are coming into our brain. I am a work in progress, but am so thankful for God’s mercies that are new every morning! It’s a new day, let’s be positive, rejoice and be glad in it!
Reference: Switch on Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf