Have you ever been taunted by toxic thoughts? I have.
“You are not liked.”
“Who are you to think you could do that?”
“Why did you say that? Everyone thinks you’re annoying.”
“Your kids just illustrated every inadequacy you have as a parent.”
“You are invisible.”
Why do we let such destructive words fall hard on our souls? Toxic thoughts are so dangerous because they leave no room for truth to flourish. And in the absence of truth, lies reign.
One day I was discussing something with my husband and I said, “I know you think I’m being annoying and overly protective about this but …”
He stopped me and said, “How do you know that’s what I’m thinking? Please don’t hold me liable for saying things that are really only thoughts in your mind.”
Wow. He’s so right. He hadn’t said those things. I was assuming he was thinking them and operating as if those toxic thoughts were reality.
I think we girls do this way too often. People aren’t thinking about us and assessing us nearly as much as we think they are.
As Christians, we should hold our thoughts to a higher standard. How dare these runaway thoughts be allowed to simply parade about as if they are true and manipulate us into feeling insecure, inadequate and misunderstood! Oh how much trouble we invite into our lives based on assumptions. But God’s Word instructs us:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:6-9, NIV).
This is probably a passage you’ve read before. But, have you thought of applying it to your every thought — especially the toxic ones?
The mind feasts on what it focuses on. What consumes our thinking will be the making or breaking of our identity.
That’s why we need to think on, ponder and park our minds on constructive thoughts — not destructive thoughts. Thoughts that build up, not tear down. Thoughts that breathe life, not drain the life from us. Thoughts that lead to goodness, not anxiety.
So, here are three questions we’d do well to ask ourselves when thoughts are dragging us down.
- Did someone actually say this or am I assuming they are thinking it?
If they actually said it, deal with it then. If I’m assuming it, that’s unfair to them and unnecessarily damaging to me. Instead of staying anxious, I need to seek truth by seeking God and asking Him for peace.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
- Have I been actively engaging with truth lately?
The more we read God’s truths and let truth fill our mind, the less time we’ll spend contemplating untruths.
Thinking runaway, worrisome thoughts invites anxiety. Thinking thoughts of truth wraps my mind in peace and helps me rise above my circumstances.
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
- Are certain situations or friendships feeding my insecurities?
If so, maybe I need to take a break from these for a season.
I need to seek friendships that are characterized by truth, honor and love.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
I know this is tough stuff. I know these issues can be more complicated than three simple questions. But it’s a good place to start holding our thoughts accountable.
After all, how we think is often how we live. May we think upon and live out truth — and only truth today.
Fill your mind with the truths that with Jesus you are forever accepted, forever held completely loved and always invited in with Lysa’s new book, Uninvited. Purchase your copy here.