I'm going to share with you one of the keys that God gave me awhile ago. It's a key that stops toxic thinking, and it can bring lasting transformation. Are you ready? You can't afford to think this way.
That's it! Sounds simple, but this statement has changed my life. I'm a person who loves logic. I need things to make sense, I like puzzle pieces to fit and I can't sleep until my t's are crossed and my i's are dotted. I struggled a lot with toxic thinking in the past because it made sense. It was logical, experience based conclusions that dominated my thinking, but it was toxic. That's the thing about the enemy - yes he's the father of lies, but he doesn't lie like a 3 year old. He lies like someone with thousands of years of experience in bringing death and destruction.
When the Holy Spirit gave me this phrase, at first I thought it wouldn't work for me, because I always had a good reason for my toxic thought. He showed me that even though I was able to back it up with reason and logic didn't mean it was right. He showed me that the cost of toxic thinking was too great, was more than I was willing to pay. And now, with a bit of practice, I'm winning the battle against the kind of thoughts that would send me in a spiral of stress and anxiety. Holy Spirit will shout at me when I have a negative thought, you can't afford to think this way! And I choose to let it go, I choose a different perspective, I choose to act in love.
The way that God designed our brains is incredibly beautiful, and it seems that scientists are learning more every day, more about how our brains work and more about how Scripture is scientifically true. Dr Caroline Leaf has some great books and resources about this - I'd highly recommend this one if you're interested in reading more. One of the things she talks about is neuroplasticity, the way that our brains physically change with our thinking. Science is saying, yes, you can actually be transformed by the renewing of your mind. And the way you renew your mind, physically, is by choosing love instead of fear. That's what it all comes down to.
When you encounter something throughout your day that triggers a negative thought, it's because that is your past experience. You've been hurt before, and within milliseconds your brain chooses between love and fear, because it is identifying signals that are coming in. A circumstance, an argument, an email, maybe even a smell. When we react in fear it leads to toxic habits, the things we do that we wish we could stop but feel like we have no control over. Physically, in your brain when you agree with a toxic thought, when you choose fear over love, the negative memory actually grows in size and becomes easier and quicker to choose the next time. That's why it feels so impossible to change if you are struggling with a negative habit or toxic thinking.
But here's the beautiful thing, we can use this neuroplasticity of our brains to our advantage. The same is true of the inverse - the more we choose love over fear, the more we choose positive thoughts over toxic ones, the easier it gets. The positive thoughts grow physically in your brain and become easier to follow. When you begin to be transformed by this renewal, the toxic thoughts lose their grip on you. You begin to see the possibilities instead of the limitations. You are able to take captive the thoughts that lead to death and destruction, and you're able to react differently to challenges throughout your day. The things that used to take you out no longer have any ground.
Sometimes there are thought patterns we have that we don't recognize as toxic. They seem harmless, they may even seem helpful or logical. A good test is to say "if I multiply this thought by 10, does it look more like fear or love"? Allow Holy Spirit to use this to flag any toxic thoughts in disguise. Recognize that following fear will cost you too much. It will cost you your freedom, your peace, and your hope. Following fear costs you relationships and opportunities. You can't afford to think this way.
A verse that God gave me to go with this key was Phillipians 4:8. I'm sure you know it - whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. This is part of Paul's instructions for how to battle anxiety, for how to receive the peace that passes understanding. The word "whatever" is in this verse so many times, it makes you wonder what was intended. It turns out this "whatever" is more than what we would attribute to it today. This whatever is meant to convey a total abundance. Paul isn't saying think good thoughts, he is saying think every good thought. He's saying it's possible to eliminate fearful and toxic thinking from our lives. We're supposed to think all the good things! We never have to run out of good thoughts, more is always available to us through the transformation of our minds, through partnering with the Holy Spirit.
What are the toxic thoughts that you have given ground to? What are they costing you?
Confess them to the Holy Spirit now and ask Him to remind you the next time they pop up, to remind you of the cost. Change is possible, Beloved. Choose love.