How to let go of Negative Thoughts
No one knows exactly how many thoughts we have each day, but it's more than you'd expect: experts say it's up there in the tens of thousands. Ninety-five percent of them are repetitive and eighty percent are negative. That's a ton of wasted mental bandwidth every single day! It's like getting stuck in the twitter feed you love to hate all.day.long.
That's why this verse jumped out at me this morning: "give me an undivided mind to fear your name" Psalm 86:11. Most translations use "heart" instead of "mind," which is probably why it struck me in the CSB. The same word is used elsewhere to mean "a clear conscience" or "reflection."
Is an undivided mind possible?
God says so. But it doesn't come easily.
"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). This age will keep your mind beeping and buzzing with the latest of everything: news, alerts, texts... there is no end to the noise. One of the Lenten practices I'm taking on this year is to have a real Sabbath. More on that on the podcast this Monday but a key piece will be turning my phone off for 24 hours. Off. Not on silent. My mind can't be renewed when it's being pulled in too many directions. We all know the devices are the biggest challenge on that front.
"Take every thought captive" (2 Corinthians 10:5). After getting rid of some of the background noise, it's easier to put an end to those repeating, negative thoughts that clamor for our attention. When I find myself letting the loop start up again, I take it captive. Most of what plagues us are simply lies of the evil one. Name them as such and replace them with the truth of God.
"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). An undivided mind requires stillness once in a while. One way to think of being still is to just stop trying so hard. Relax. Breathe. Enjoy the ordinary, beautiful moments that point directly to a good and loving God. Before I get to my Bible in the morning I just sit with my coffee in the quiet darkness, doing nothing. I do the best I can to clear my mind and get it in an undivided state. Doing nothing actually takes some pretty serious effort. But it helps to get me centered and still.
These simple steps can silence the negative, repeating loop we get stuck in and replace it with the goodness of God.