My name is Robin Bright…I am a recovered alcoholic and addict. I am in early recovery.
I have 128 days clean and sober.
Today is Sunday. It’s a day like any other day. Today is a choice. The minute I woke up my brain started working like a secretary flipping through a filing cabinet. Almost without any ounce of participation on my part, the movie screen in my mind started rolling.
It’s calculating and attempting to set my mindset for the day. My thoughts, still somewhat blurry from sleep, start the negative spin:
You woke up alone…You’re alone.
There’s no one to drive you to church…You’re alone.
You feel a little depressed about that, right? Maybe you should cry. Or go back to sleep.
You don’t even have a good idea for the article you’re supposed to write for that doctor client of yours.
You’ll probably lose him.
You’ll probably lose your business.
You may even end up homeless.
I wish I could fire this imaginary secretary who seems to want to pull up every negative possibility in my life and play each scenario out into some terrible failure. But I can’t. These negative thoughts will always dangle there, like bait for me to latch onto. They will always be an option.
Change the Channel
If I were sitting in a movie theater watching these same scenes, I’d walk out. If I were watching TV and these stories were playing out, I’d change the channel. I have come to realize, through my contact with my Creator, and through trial and terrible error, that I can change the channel in my mind at any time I choose. It’s just a decision. There’s a simple truth here:
What you feed, grows. What you starve, dies.
I’ve learned this with almost every one of my plants (poor guys) so I am completely positive of the end result.
Instead of wallowing for another ten minutes in my bed, I get up. I take the dog out. I feed her. I feed my fish. I make my bed. Still feeling a little off, I jump on my bike and go for a morning ride. Sometimes I feel like I can outrun my own thoughts (or outride them)…and today I did. While I rode my bike, I could hear my heart, I could feel the wind and the sun on my skin. After a while I felt my leg muscles straining and I realized something huge:
I am 100% in charge of what goes on in my head.
If there is a movie playing and I don’t like it, I can purposely turn my attention toward something else. For me, I try to live in constant contact with God. It’s like a continual state of awareness of His presence in my life. Yes, sometimes even God feels far away to me, but I have found that feelings are temporary. They will pass. I can’t gauge the truth by a momentary feeling.
The truth is that God is always with me. —Psalm 16:8
He will never leave me or forsake me. —Deuteronomy 31:6
He has only good things planned for me. —Jeremiah 29:11
The Bible tells us that God will do a lot of things for us. He will protect us. He will bless us, prosper us, guide us, strengthen us, and more…But when the Bible talks about our thought life, He actually puts US in charge. The Word tells US to take every thought captive. I love that terminology. I picture a big field with just a bunch of banchees running around wild. These are our thoughts. God says, “No. Don’t leave it like that. You kick those negative thoughts out! Take them captive!” How do we do that? By refusing to think them. Thinking is the same as meditating. If I sit and think, think, think a thought….that is exactly the food that gives it strength. I’m feeding it with more thoughts and soon, guess what? My thoughts will produce words. My words will produce actions. My actions will set the course of my life.
King Solomon (a Bible guy) said, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” This means your thought life controls the rest of your life.
If you tell me what you think, I’ll tell you who you are and the life you live. What you think is what you are. You can’t get around that. The thought life controls you. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” —Proverbs 23:7
And it all starts with that first movie you allow to play in your head.
But how do you actually DO THIS? How do you regulate your thoughts, exactly. Well, that depends on the nature of the thought. Here are a couple of examples:
The basic negative doom: “You’re all alone. You’re going to die. You’re probably sick right now…bla, bla, bla”
This thought can be fought off just by ignoring it and thanking God for your blessings, your health, etc. They are outright lies or ‘feel sorry for myself’ kind of thoughts. Just shoo them away with gratitude. You’re alive. You have a beautiful future and a purpose.
They’re against me: “These people don’t like you. She looked at you sideways. He’s out to get you.”
Sooooo annoying, right? These thoughts can play out into full feature films if we’re not careful. In a span of ten minutes we can imagine we’ve lost our job, we’re out in the street and people are wiping their feet on us on their way to bigger and better things. To fight this, I always reel myself in by reminding myself two things. Number one, it’s none of my business what other people think about me. And number two, as long as my heart is right between me and God and I know I’m doing my very best, I push it away. After all, ultimately I report to God. He is my provider. So, even if I did lose my job or all my friends, He’d give me new ones. He’s cool like that.
Lost in the chaos: “There’s so much fighting and chaos where I am right now, I feel overwhelmed.”
While I’m sitting here dealing with my temporary isolation, I realize I should be grateful. Here I sit on my back porch just typing away drinking my coffee, thinking about God and watching my dog sniff the screen, and the floor, and the wind. It’s not really isolation. It’s peace. There were plenty of times when I felt the weight of chaos around me. If you’re in the middle of negative people right now, just get away. Walk away. Find yourself a place of solace. I like the shower. I talk to God there and I always hear Him very clearly. Breath in His peace and ask Him for strength for your day.
Fill Your Tank
Lastly, I gotta say, most of the time we are our own worst enemy. We run around with empty tanks and we wonder why the slightest thing can throw us into a frenzy. It’s because you’re empty. E-M-P-T-Y.
If you are NOT going to think about the negative thoughts, you’re going to have to replace them with something. I mean, you can’t just turn off your brain. Remember, we tried to do this in active addiction. It turned out badly.
Master Your Thought Life
“Be not conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” —Romans 12:22
Don’t be conformed. This means, don’t go with the negative flow of the world. Free yourself from that. Free your mind from the status-quo of how everyone else thinks. Instead, be transformed. I like that. Transformed means changed. How do we change? By renewing our mind. How do we renew our mind? By feeding it good things like, the Word, prayer, time just talking to God, etc. My bike ride today renewed my mind. I was alone, out in creation. I talked to God. Talking to God always makes me hungry for more of God. I came home, I looked up Scriptures. I put more Word in my brain. I also wrote this article.
So, back to the title.
Why do I feel like giving up? Because my tank is empty. And I will ALWAYS feel like giving up when my tank is empty.
This is a simple problem with a simple solution.
Fill up on the Word. Fill up by talking to God. Fill up by listening to encouraging teachings you can find online (Youtube has a ton of them). Even if you don’t know what you’re doing at first, that’s okay. Just know that as you feed your mind and spirit with good, positive food, your mental state will start to transform.
Oh sure, you still may wake up like I did this morning and have to fight it off for ten minutes or so, but so what? Ultimately, you win. Ten minutes of resisting negative thoughts is much better than ten days or ten years. Some people live their whole lives in negativity and they can’t even see it. They’re asleep. Be thankful for being spiritually awake today!
I know I am!
Happy Sunday. xo
Editorial Note: If you’re looking for positive Bible teaching online, you may want to try Francis Chan, Andrew Wommack, or Joseph Prince.