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Tackling Negative Thoughts: Where do I even begin?

First, let me start off by saying that I am smack in the middle of my own journey of tackling and rewiring my thoughts. It’s something that I continue to work on daily with God’s help. The purpose of this blog post is to serve as a reminder that our words matter. Did you know that we have what we say? You may be thinking, “Just like that???” Yes!! But it makes sense that our words are so powerful. God himself spoke the world we see into existence through his words. And we’re made in his image. So He gave us that same power of words. Did you know that we are currently living in the fruit of our words from the past? Our words and thoughts create our reality.


In working on my self-awareness, I’ve had to admit that my greatest issues stem from the words that I think, say, and speak over myself. Is this your truth too? Can you tie your current struggles to something you have said, thought, or done? If not you, maybe you are experiencing the product of someone else’s words or thoughts? I would like to share a few things that have been helping me to shift the words that I say. Our words are only an affirmation of our inner thoughts. There's a reason the book of Proverbs in the Bible puts so much emphasis on our words.


One thing that I have come to realize is that negative thoughts will come. And they will try to take root. Why? We're human and we have a real enemy out there. But the question is what will we do with those negative thoughts when they come? I am slowly understanding that the volume of negative thoughts we have is directly related to the answer to that question. Therapy has shown me that we have two choices. We can either accept the negative thoughts as true and let them continue to roll in and weigh us down or we can recognize them as lies and fight them with God’s truth.


One tool that is helping me is learning the art of “the pause.” An example of a negative thought maybe, “I will always struggle with this.” Sis, when thoughts like that pop up into your mind, talk back to it immediately. DO NOT LET IT LINGER. My therapist told me something that I’ll never forget, “When you don’t talk back to those negative thoughts, you let it take root. You’ve got to talk back out loud because our mind can’t do two things at once. When you speak, your mind has to focus on that. ” Speak the negative thought out loud. Write it down. The key is being honest with yourself and how you feel. God can only start to heal what we reveal. So the next time your mind runs wild with negative thoughts, pause in that exact moment and speak each of them out one by one.


The next thing I am learning is that we have to acknowledge and deal with the root. Nothing we say comes out of the blue. Everything has a root. If you can’t tell, I am a huge proponent of therapy/counseling because of how much it has helped me so far. The reason why I believe therapy is a beautiful thing is because it helps to get to the roots of our issues. Why is this important? Well, if we don’t tackle the root of the negative thoughts, they will only come back around. The same thoughts will keep popping up. We have to heal the trauma at the root. It’s all a part of the healing process. And sis, healing is not easy. It’s actually a lot of work. But learning the “why” behind it all is SO worth it. Think of it as a “jump-start” to your healing.


Finally, I’m learning that we can’t just stop negative thoughts, we have to replace the thought or words with a truth that God said. YOU. GOT. TO. TALK. BACK. TO. IT. I admit that it's not easy to stop thinking negative thinking especially if it has become second nature. We have to unlearn the wrong things before we can learn the right things. The first step is switching out the negative thoughts with the positive thoughts. What we don’t replace, we leave space. If we leave empty space, it can be easy to fill it with another negative thought. Sis, the only way for us to uproot a lie is to start with the truth. God's truth has to be the compass that brings us back. Don’t even let the whole thought get out before interrupting it. This prevents those negative seeds from being planted and later rehearsed in our minds.


Sis, let me reiterate that changing our words and thoughts is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. Here is a solid piece of advice that I came across, “Once you are aware that you are having those negative thoughts or words, give yourself the grace to understand that you will need to keep interrupting yourself and your thoughts to stop it altogether. “ Becoming self-aware is everything. One exercise that has been helping me is writing down the negative thoughts I’ve believed in one column, the "evidence" to support the negative thought in another column, and then God’s truth on a third column. It’s something about thinking through each of these that can set the record straight. I immediately feel a shift when I do this, even if I just do the exercise in my head.


I keep thinking of the quote, “your mind is a battlefield.” It is SO SO SO TRUE. When we become our biggest enemy, our real enemy can just sit back and watch us self-sabotage. He doesn’t have to do much but watch us destroy our own dreams and future by simply not believing in ourselves. We get in our own way. That’s been my story. Has this been your story too? I’ll tell you I know how it feels. It can be incredibly frustrating to be your own worst enemy.



“Oftentimes, we can be an enemy to our own destiny. There are moments when we are the primary suspect in the homicide of our destiny.”—-Sarah Jakes Roberts.


Sis, let’s not be an enemy of our own destiny. Here are some practical ways that you and I can commit to switching our thought life up:


1. Avoid labeling yourself. For example, I used to say “I am an overthinker.” Well, it was no surprise that because I labeled myself as that, I behaved like one. Instead, I carefully reword myself by saying, “I am in the process of becoming less anxious about the decisions that I make.” Sis, watch what you say about yourself because you just might become it.


2. Immediately challenge your negative thoughts. Think of this as retraining your mind. I’ve always heard the verse Romans 12:2 which talks about renewing and transforming our minds. But I am now learning what that means practically. It’s asking yourself, “Is what I’m saying really the truth? Do I really have evidence to support what I'm thinking?" The greatest thing we can do is to ask ourselves, “But what does God say?”


3. Make it a habit to say things that agree with God. I call these faith statements that are centered around what God says. (Some examples, “I am loved by God.” “I am enough.” “I am seen by God.” When what we say about ourselves is rooted in God, it can never be disputed, even on our worse days.


4. Work on your traumas and triggers. The goal of this point is to not overanalyze everything you do but to focus on pausing and recognizing the root of what we say aka. our traumas and triggers. Ask yourself these two questions, “Why did I say it? Is this showing me an area I still need to heal in?"


I'll give an example of a thought I've mentioned several times in my blogs. But this time, I'll show you how I work through it---


A consistent negative thought in my head was “I don’t feel good enough.” Well, that was a true feeling but that statement negates God’s affirming love for me. God thought that I was good enough to die for. (And he feels the SAME WAY about you.) When I doubt myself, my ability, and the plans God has for me---I work on remembering and believing these two statements. God is love. God is good. I always go back to these two foundational truths whenever I don't feel "enough."


....


Sis, I hope this post has encouraged you to start tackling those negative thoughts. I want you to know that you are not alone and you are not abnormal for having negative thoughts. I can honestly say that I am STILL a work in progress on this topic. I have not "arrived" in this area but I have improved. And I just wanted to share some things that have been helping me along the way. Lastly, please please please give yourself time AND grace to rewire your thoughts. Sis, if negative thoughts have been your pattern for years, it makes sense that it will take time to uproot them and let what God says become second nature to you. I promise with His help, you will slowly but surely see a difference.


I’m praying for the transformation of your thoughts.


Hang in there!


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