Have you ever stopped to think about what you’re thinking about? If not, I challenge you to check in with yourself periodically today and do a spot-check. What am I thinking about at this exact moment?
My guess is that it falls into one of three categories: Hurry, Worry or Jury.
Hurry is that do-list constantly running through our heads. As soon as I finish this I need to go do that. And I can’t forget to send out that birthday card. Oh and I better pick up a gallon of milk while I’m at it.
Worry is the whipped up mountain of fret that we build in our minds based on what-ifs. What if a school shooting happens in my town? What if my husband loses his job? What if my friend is hurt by what I said or didn’t say?
Jury is the constant judgement we are doling out. We appoint ourselves as the judge and jury toward ourselves and others. We decide in our minds whether that skirt is too short or whether those parents are doing a good job of raising their kids. Jury often turns into anger because we “judge” that someone has let us down or failed to meet our expectations. Often that “someone” is ourself.
It was a pretty scary deal when I started thinking about what I was thinking about. I didn’t like what I found. Seven years ago, I had everything I had ever wanted, a nice house, healthy kids, a doting husband and yet it all felt like a burden. Life was passionless and pointless. Something to be endured and something I self-medicated with alcohol, food, nicotine, gossip, and spending.
My mind used to have a tendency to sit in a dark, negative, and judgmental place. It wasn’t until I began intentionally monitoring my thoughts that I realized I could change them.
Did you know you don’t have to think every thought that comes into your brain? It’s true! Let’s try something. First, imagine yourself on a beach… get yourself nice and comfortable. Listen to the ocean waves and feel the warmth radiating on your skin.
Now think of five things you need to buy when you go to the grocery store. Are you still on the beach? Nope. Your mind can only think of one thing at a time.
We have the ability to control our thoughts by rejecting the negative ones and replacing them with something more positive.
When I began taking my thoughts captive, it started by simply being aware that the thoughts I was having were harmful. Once I realized I was stuck in the hurry, worry, jury, I could do something about it.
When a negative thought came, I would literally say to myself, “I reject that thought.”
But just saying those words wasn’t enough to move me away from the negativity. That’s why I kept a little piece of paper in my pocket.
I would grab the little quote I had written out and spend 15 seconds working on memorizing it. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
That was the first quote I memorized. It’s from Galatians 5:22-23. I wanted to add those values into my life, so I figured I better get them set in my brain. After that, I memorized Philippians 4:8, “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.”
A funny thing happened when I began rejecting and replacing my thoughts. I got happier. I got more grateful. And eventually I got healthier in mind, spirit and body.
So… I hope you’ll spend a little time today thinking about what you’re thinking about. If it’s all good, awesome! But if you find yourself in the hurry, worry, or jury like I did, I encourage you to go online, find a quote or list or something that adds value to your life and commit it to memory.
New joy is there for the taking, if we’re willing to reach out and grab it. Isn’t that something worth thinking about?