What Do I Do? How to Fight the Spiral of Toxic Thinking
Science tells us that our minds have between 9,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day. Seventy percent of those thought are negative and 85 percent are repetitive from the previous day. Clearly, we have a problem. Our minds are spiraling over and over again in toxic thought patterns of fear, worry, shame, and cynicism. You name it. But I believe we can shift that. In fact, science tells us we can, and it aligns with what the Bible teaches on taking every thought captive.
Take for example the woman who once stood before me who was reeling with anxiety. Her teenage daughter was making some seriously poor decisions in life, and this mama’s heart was breaking into a thousand pieces. With tears in her eyes, she looked at me and asked, “Jennie, what do I do?”
What do I do?
I’ve heard countless women ask this question, women facing all sorts of challenges—cheating husbands and debilitating addictions and failed financial ventures and wayward kids and devastating diagnoses and . . . and . . . and . . .
Each time, after they explain what has been trying their patience and tempting their hearts and tripping them up, they ask that same question: “What do I do?”
What they’re wondering is what they should do to fix the situation. Or to fix their perspective. Or to keep pain and suffering at bay.
Or if none of those things are a possibility, they want me to tell them how in the world they keep moving forward without giving in to desperation and despair.
What do we do? We confront our thoughts. We tear down strongholds by the power of God. We figure out if we are believing something untrue or unreal about God or ourselves, and we go to battle there.
Psst. Let me tell you the greatest news: You are not God. You are not omniscient.
When we allow our thoughts to spin out of control with worry and fear, either consciously or unconsciously, we try to elbow our way into the all-knowing role that only God can play. We forget that it’s actually good news that He is in control and we are not. You and I may have many gifts and talents, but being God is not one of them.
Now, this is easier preached and harder lived, but that’s why we are going to stick together and steep in God’s Word. Change is difficult and may come slowly. After all, our fears arise from ingrained thoughts and entangled sins. But because we have been made new creations, we have the Spirit’s power to make the choice for truth.
Changing our minds is possible.
When you recognize the lie resting heavily on your shoulders, you can take off that suffocating coat and set it aside.
What fear-filled thought is Satan using to suffocate your faith?
Say its name.
- I’m afraid that I won’t be able to withstand whatever the future might hold.
I choose to believe God will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can endure and will always give me the strength to overcome temptation.
- I’m afraid that everyone will abandon me.
I choose to believe God has promised not to leave me, and He always keeps His promises.
- I’m afraid of losing everything and everyone I love.
I choose to believe God will sustain me in my brightest moments of victory and my darkest moments of suffering.
- I’m afraid of being found out.
I choose to believe God knows every thought before I think it and loves me.
- I’m afraid that I’m really not capable of doing this job.
I choose to believe God has given me everything I need to live a godly life.
- I’m afraid of being rejected.
I choose to believe God has accepted me as His child and will never leave me.
- I’m afraid of not living up to their expectations.
I choose to believe God wants me to seek His approval only and release the pressure to please people.
- I’m afraid of failing miserably for everyone to see.
I choose to believe God specializes in taking weakness and using it for His glory.
This is how we fight the spiral. We pull the thoughts out of our heads, and we steal all their power and then replace them with what is true!
Adapted from Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts. Copyright © 2020 by Jennie Allen. Used by permission of WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
This excerpt was featured in the November 29, 2020 edition of The Sunday Paper. The Sunday Paper publishes News and Views that Rise Above the Noise and Inspires Hearts and Minds. To get The Sunday Paper delivered to your inbox each Sunday morning for free, click here to subscribe.