Taking Control of Our Thoughts

In general, we tend to focus a great deal on our words. We (at least most people, at most times) try to be careful of what words we say to others. We sometimes even spend significant amounts of time grieving over words we said, that we wish we didn't. Most of the time, we worry about things we have said, but care very little about our thoughts.

I wonder why this is: why do we give so much regard to our words, but we don't execute the same amount of concern to our thoughts?

Our thoughts play an immeasurable role in our daily lives, yet we allow them to run around frantically, like wild beasts in the forest, with no destination.

“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” 
― Marcus AureliusMeditations
Whatever we choose to spend our time thinking about, intensely affects our attitudes, our actions, our words, and even our souls. What do you spend time thinking about? I'll give you a few examples of the negative thoughts consuming my mind lately: I'm not good enough. I'm not pretty enough. I'm going to be alone forever. I'm too fat. I'm a horrible friend. The world is a scary place. Even home isn't a safe place to be. 

Wow. No wonder I'm always sad, paranoid, and reclusive! The thing about thoughts, only you can see them. Nobody, aside from God, can peer into your deepest reflections. This truth tends to lead us into somehow accepting negative thoughts as ordinary and nothing to worry about. This simply is not true. Our thoughts influence every bit of our being and the Bible has a lot to say on the importance of controlling our thought life.

Perhaps the best known scripture referring to our thoughts is Philippians 4:8 -
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Colossians 3:2 -
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  
I want to focus on the popular Philippians 4:8 for a moment, to give a practical method for controlling our thoughts. When you find yourself in a troublesome situation and your mind turns to those oh-so-familiar negative thoughts, question the relevance of them. Is this thought true? Is it honorable? Is it right? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it reliable? If the answer to any of these is a resounding NO, then your thoughts need to turn.

I know this is not an easy concept to grasp. Especially when in our society, it's so alarmingly easy to harbor negative thoughts. We are constantly plagued with comparison, lust, hatred, and bad news. It takes no effort to take a positive attitude and cloud it up with negative thoughts of fear, paranoia, and self doubt. But if we make an effort to turn our thoughts to those that are true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely, I believe we can change not only our minds and our words, but our attitudes as well.

Your attitude is how others perceive you and also how you perceive others. Attitude plays such a major role in how your life prospers.

Looking back at my list of thoughts, none of them matched ANY of the criteria in Philippians 4:8. When I find myself trying to embrace these negative thoughts, I'm going to turn to what the Bible tells us and direct my attention to things above.

Yes, I'm alone now. But God has a plan for this season of my life and I should be seeking direction in prayer instead of wallowing in doubt and self pity. Sure, I'm not Angelina Jolie, but God designed me exactly as I am and I am beautiful in my own ways. Yes, the world is a dark and scary place but how can I, in my own life, be a light in it? Truth is, I've not been a great friend in the past, but I can turn that around now. It's never too late to reach out to other people and it is possible to mend broken friendships. 

These are just a few examples of molding our thoughts from total negativity into something positive and productive, but I think pretty much all our thoughts can be turned into something good.

“One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live... surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.

"Where you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow.” 
― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden

What thoughts do you need to conform in your own life and mind?

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