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Take control of your thought life

90-96% of our thoughts are repetitive and generally negative, says writer Richard Rohr, citing psychological studies. We recycle our thoughts, allowing old tapes to play in our minds over and over again. The oldest tapes are those from our childhood: “You’ll never amount to anything,” says the f…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

90-96% of our thoughts are repetitive and generally negative, says writer Richard Rohr, citing psychological studies. We recycle our thoughts, allowing old tapes to play in our minds over and over again.

The oldest tapes are those from our childhood: “You’ll never amount to anything,” says the father. And that prophecy gets recorded and replayed for a lifetime.

We experience hurt and conclude, “Life will always be hard and disappointing,” and that tape plays whenever a new opportunity pops up. And as life progresses, we become captive of these thoughts, forever boxed in and defined by the repetitive loops in our head.

In effect, we don’t have thoughts, they have us! We were created in the very image of God with access through faith to his throne room and a life of miracles, but we are shackled by thoughts.

The Bible tells us to turn the tables, to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5). We need to stand outside ourselves and observe the thoughts as they play across the screen of our mind. When it is one of these looped, negative tapes from the past, we need to spot it and call it out. “Aha! That is not my thought. I refuse to think that particular thought again. I bring that thought under the authority of Jesus.”

The Bible talks about the renewing of our minds. It isn’t automatic. It needs our aggressive, even angry attention to push the “stop button” in our minds and keep the tapes from playing again.

Comments (5)

  • This is sooo true and worth its weight in gold. This is a daily process as well as a life long one. I have come to treasure 2 Cor 10:5. The enemy will hold nothing back from ones mind. I love to speak out the word of God to back up positive thinking too. Man I love this stuff!!!!

  • This is something that my eyes were opened to last summer, when I had all day to work and let my thoughts wander. I realized that this was a dangerous opportunity to dwell on sinful images that have engraved themselves into my psyche. Some days were quite a battle, because no matter how hard I tried to rebuke such thoughts, they would only come up again. I’ve been experiencing the same kind of temptation recently. How do we practically do this? Do you agree with what Rick Warren says about such invisible sins, that sometimes distracting oneself is the best thing to do? It seems that when we dwell on “I am not going to do X” we often /do/ X, because we’ve been thinking about it so much. I don’t want to think about X, but how do I do that? Do I battle those thoughts as soon as they come into the mind? Do I try to force them out with Scripture and other godly things? Do I distract myself?

  • Jeff, great questions. In short, being present to God’s presence is the challenge before us. Contemplative prayer is the tool that helps get us there. You make a good point, we don’t “cleave” to God just by “leaving” sin. It’s a question of being discipled in Kingdom living – being Spirit-led, making decisions in consultation with the Holy Spirit.

    In general, this is not something we do by ourself – we need someone to disciple us in it.

  • Such a true message and challenging to overcome. I’m in Bible college now studying counseling and more and more I learn that Christian counseling is listening for the lies of the enemy that people are repeating to themselves, whatever the original source has been, and replacing them with the truth of God’s word. This message presents yet another truth, we aren’t stuck with these debilitating thoughts, we can overcome!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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