Taming My Negative Thoughts

The more we try not to think of something, the more we do. The best way to avoid negative thoughts is to fill our minds with God's truths.

Taming My Negative Thoughts

July 16, 2020

We’d been dreading it for weeks. We put it off for days. But in preparation for our retirement and future move across the country, tackling the garage became a priority. 

For most people, garages are places to park their cars. But desert sand makes basements impossible. So for people living in the desert, garages become much needed storage space.

So we resolutely combed through our boxes, crates and shelves. Deciding what to keep and what to give away can be challenging at times. I often feel conflicted. While I can be sentimental, I also hate clutter. So invariably sentimentality screams, “Keep!”, while practicality bellows “Purge!”

As my husband and I worked through this process, I realized I often have the same battle with my thoughts. Unwelcome, negative thoughts easily invade my peace and threaten my confidence. Before I knew Jesus, I regularly practiced negative self-talk. So these thoughts felt familiar and comfortable. My flesh cried out, “Keep!”, but my spirit demanded, “Purge!”

Years ago, a mentor shared with me the pink elephant principle. She told me, “Don’t think of a pink elephant.” 

Immediately, I saw a pink elephant in my mind. Until she said that, a pink elephant would never have entered my thoughts. Satan successfully employs this tactic. The more we try to not think about something, the more we do.

The Apostle Paul shared with us the perfect way to overcome this struggle:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)

Rather than trying to avoid or eliminate negative thoughts, Paul encourages us to actively focus our thinking on a list of positive attributes. 

The Greek word translated as think, logizomai, conveys a deeper meaning than simple reflection. It means to carefully consider or to reason to the point of making a logical conclusion. The New American Standard Bible translates this word as “dwells”. 

When I immerse myself in the thought categories outlined by Paul, I no longer have room for negative thoughts. The best defense truly is a strong offense.

How do I know what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or praiseworthy? The best place to start is with the Bible:

The unfolding of your words gives light
    it gives understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130 NIV)

I’ve heard it said our culture has lost the art of meditation. We live in a busy and noisy world. Social media and technology can be great tools, but they can also be great distractions. 

Lately I pulled away from social media and took time each day to quietly meditate, concentrating on the grace we experience through Jesus. As I trained my mind to focus on spiritual truths, peace and joy enveloped my spirit. 

By embracing His truths, we can evict the world’s lies.

My journey will soon be heading into uncharted territory. Life changes in the form of retirement and a cross-country move promise both adventure and challenges. As I continue down the road, I pray to make time to meditate on God’s truths. Wherever your journey takes you, I pray you can do the same.

Taming My Negative Thoughts

July 16, 2020

The more we try not to think of something, the more we do. The best way to avoid negative thoughts is to fill our minds with God's truths.

We’d been dreading it for weeks. We put it off for days. But in preparation for our retirement and future move across the country, tackling the garage became a priority. 

For most people, garages are places to park their cars. But desert sand makes basements impossible. So for people living in the desert, garages become much needed storage space.

So we resolutely combed through our boxes, crates and shelves. Deciding what to keep and what to give away can be challenging at times. I often feel conflicted. While I can be sentimental, I also hate clutter. So invariably sentimentality screams, “Keep!”, while practicality bellows “Purge!”

As my husband and I worked through this process, I realized I often have the same battle with my thoughts. Unwelcome, negative thoughts easily invade my peace and threaten my confidence. Before I knew Jesus, I regularly practiced negative self-talk. So these thoughts felt familiar and comfortable. My flesh cried out, “Keep!”, but my spirit demanded, “Purge!”

Years ago, a mentor shared with me the pink elephant principle. She told me, “Don’t think of a pink elephant.” 

Immediately, I saw a pink elephant in my mind. Until she said that, a pink elephant would never have entered my thoughts. Satan successfully employs this tactic. The more we try to not think about something, the more we do.

The Apostle Paul shared with us the perfect way to overcome this struggle:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8 ESV)

Rather than trying to avoid or eliminate negative thoughts, Paul encourages us to actively focus our thinking on a list of positive attributes. 

The Greek word translated as think, logizomai, conveys a deeper meaning than simple reflection. It means to carefully consider or to reason to the point of making a logical conclusion. The New American Standard Bible translates this word as “dwells”. 

When I immerse myself in the thought categories outlined by Paul, I no longer have room for negative thoughts. The best defense truly is a strong offense.

How do I know what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or praiseworthy? The best place to start is with the Bible:

The unfolding of your words gives light
    it gives understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130 NIV)

I’ve heard it said our culture has lost the art of meditation. We live in a busy and noisy world. Social media and technology can be great tools, but they can also be great distractions. 

Lately I pulled away from social media and took time each day to quietly meditate, concentrating on the grace we experience through Jesus. As I trained my mind to focus on spiritual truths, peace and joy enveloped my spirit. 

By embracing His truths, we can evict the world’s lies.

My journey will soon be heading into uncharted territory. Life changes in the form of retirement and a cross-country move promise both adventure and challenges. As I continue down the road, I pray to make time to meditate on God’s truths. Wherever your journey takes you, I pray you can do the same.

4 Comments

  1. Charla on July 19, 2020 at 1:31 PM

    So true! I learned the same principal except it was not a pink elephant 🙂 I gravitate toward times when God uses words such as dwell or abide, and you brought out a beautiful truth for all of us to employ. I can’t believe your retirement and move is already here! Praying your next chapter is a sweet beginning in Christ.

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on July 19, 2020 at 1:59 PM

      Thank you Charla. I always appreciate your encouragement!💕

    • Beth on July 21, 2020 at 5:41 PM

      As always you have just the right words for me at just the right time. My job furlough has been wearing on me, this reminder to focus on the positive is just what I needed tonight. Thank you Shirley!😊💗

      • Shirley Desmond Jackson on July 23, 2020 at 12:48 PM

        Thank you Beth! I’m sorry you have to deal with a job furlough. I will definitely keep you in prayer. As always, I deeply appreciate your words of encouragement.💕

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