I used to believe that I had no control over my thoughts. Instead, negative thoughts were like a steam engine barreling toward me, as I lay helplessly tied to the train tracks. When negative thoughts hit, I was paralyzed, and could only try to self medicate or to cower in fear and hope the thoughts would leave on their own accord.
However, you can, and should control your thoughts. We as human beings are not helpless prisoners to our minds.
This is a controversial statement in the 21st Century, but, Not everything you feel or think is true.
For example, my belief that I was ugly and needed to lose 20% of my body weight was a lie, and a very unhealthy one at that.
Replacing lies I believed with truth was crucial in my process of healing.
As petty as it sounds, belief that I needed to lose 20 pounds and starve myself to be valuable and ensure I was loved and never hurt again by a guy, belief that I needed to get perfect grades to have purpose and identity, and belief that I would always approach life timidly and fearfully, were all beliefs that controlled my actions. They needed to be removed.
The root of many of my beliefs was fear. I was afraid of people – afraid of being hurt. If I could look perfect and act perfectly then, I assumed, people would never hurt me by rejecting me or being disappointed in me.
But, these were lies!
Thankfully, I no longer believe these lies. I was able, by the grace and strength of God, and the help of others, to replace them with truth.
How did I do this…? I’m glad you asked!
To get rid of these lies, I had to recognize them, get rid of them by replacing them with truth. Not only have I seen this work in my own life, but I have also seen it work in the lives of other people.
Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Recognize the lies that you are believing. This can be incredibly challenging, because most of us don’t know ourselves as well as we think. We can also get good at lying to ourselves. The best first step is to ask God to reveal the unhealthy thoughts and lies that you believe.
Additionally, having a community of loving trustworthy people to walk alongside you is key. Reach out to people at church, or to family members and friends. Going to a counselor can also be helpful.
However, be mindful of what kind of counselor you go to. Make sure they are one that will help and encourage you, and not place a label on you. The role of a counselor is not to give answers and to diagnose so much as it is to listen and mirror back to the patient what the patient is saying so that he or she can better understand him or herself.
People who listen are great mirrors to reflect what they see in each other.
Furthermore, encouragement from community is crucial in fighting through the hard struggle of changing thinking patterns.
At one of my lowest points, I laid on the floor of my room feeling paralyzed by fear and depression. God prompted to call my small group leader from church, and it took all of my courage and strength to pick up the phone and dial her number.
She immediately began praying for me over the phone and then spent 30 minutes praying scripture over me. When she hung up, I felt so at peace, and I was able to rest.
In our struggles, we need people to speak the truth to us and fight for us when we cannot fight for ourselves.
- “How to Detox Your Brain” four-part presentation by Dr. Caroline Leaf
- “Knowing Who I Am in Christ” by Joyce Meyer
- Renewing the Mind resource by Equipping Ministries International
- Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind by Joyce Meyer
- Identity in Christ Scriptures to replace lies with truth