You may be trying hard to have more faith but still feel like you’re in a losing battle. Perhaps you grapple with guilt over not having enough faith in God, but you can’t seem to get out of your own head.
The problem may not be your faith, it may be your thoughts.
After all, Proverbs 4:23 reminds us to be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life, and that includes your level of faith.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
A client I was working with just this past month was going through a challenge. It was a challenge that could impact her physically and financially in a life-changing way. She asked me to pray for her. We prayed for victory and for healing. Then I encouraged her to stand in faith that God heard her prayer and would answer.
Within moments of praying, no sooner did the words, “Thank you Kris, I just don’t understand…” and the she went on to rehash everything she was battling with.
Please don’t misunderstand, I am not minimizing her pain and struggle. But in those moments she had the opportunity to rise in faith or retreat in to her thoughts. Her mind immediately went to her thoughts.
She ‘thought’ about a minor thing that she felt God left out.
She ‘thought’ God might change His mind.
This was a perfect opportunity to grow her faith to grow, but instead she ‘thought’ about what else could go wrong.
We’ve all experienced destructive thoughts. Perhaps you were scrolling on social media and you saw a friend being blessed in a way that you’d been praying for. The next thing you know, your thoughts turned envious, or angry, or perhaps some self-doubting thoughts crept in.
This may surprise you, but you are not responsible for the thoughts that come into your mind. You’re only responsible for what you do with them.
You might think that you can treat a habit of rehashing negative or toxic thoughts like any other bad habit and just stop doing it—like smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. Of course, the quitting process isn’t easy by any means, but the action you need to take is to stop doing those things altogether. You can’t say, “Oh, I’ll just have a drink at parties,” because that would trigger a downward spiral.
But weaning yourself off a bad thinking habit is more like what you do when you have a food addiction. Since you can’t quit eating, you have to learn which foods are right for you and which trigger your addictive behavior. You also need a plan for how to overcome your cravings for those bad-for-you foods.
The same is true for your thoughts. You can’t just stop thinking; it’s impossible. You have to learn which thoughts are troublesome, determine where they come from (check out “Where do Toxic Thoughts come from” and identify the things that trigger them.
The first step in taking control of your thoughts is to identify the feelings you frequently struggle with. Thoughts and feelings feed off of one another. I can have a thought that I should end my life but I won’t take action on it unless I have continual feelings of hopelessness and low self-worth.
A thought doesn’t automatically produce a feeling, but it will exacerbate an existing feeling. So in order to control your thoughts, you’ve got to deal with the feelings.
To do that, ask yourself:
- What feelings do I struggle with frequently? Is it worry, jealousy, fear, low self-worth, or something else?
- Where does it come from? Is it God (doubtful if it’s negative). Is it Satan? Is it because of something that happened in your past? (To answer this last question, try to recall the first time or most impactful time you’ve felt this way. That may begin to reveal the time when the seed was planted.)
The enemy knows that you can’t stop thinking. That’s why the easiest way to pull you down is to attack your thoughts. He also knows that your thoughts trigger the feelings and when that sequence of events is launched, it’s game over….victory Satan! But you don’t have to live under his attack. Nor do you have to be a slave to your feelings.
By dealing with the underlying feelings you can create a new thought pattern.
If you knew that God was for you (Romans 8:31) and that your blessings were on the way (Philippians 4:19), do you think you’d struggle with jealousy? Probably not.
If you knew that God was your protector (Isaiah 41:10) and vindicator (Romans 12:19), do you think you would get triggered by thoughts of someone getting one over on you? Most likely not.
That’s why it’s crucial to deal with the underlying feelings so that you can redirect your thoughts when they start to fail you.
I want to encourage you to dive in to the scriptures and see what God says about your struggles. Then train your brain to trust God’s thoughts over yours.
Want to know if your thoughts are failing you? Take the FREE “How Toxic Are My Thoughts?” Quiz
Are you tired of your emotions controlling you? Are you ready to replace over reactions with healthier ways of responding? Check out our new online course ReThink. ReThink will help you to control your thoughts and transform your life.