by: Staci Stallings
A friend and I have recently been talking about turning your thoughts from negative to positive. So many of us fall into the trap of thinking whatever happens to come into our head. And most often these “random” thoughts are in one of two categories: busyness thoughts or negative thoughts.
Busyness Thoughts sound like this: “Oh, I have to get to work by 7:30 this morning…. I can’t forget that file. Where did I put that file? Wonder what they are serving for lunch today. Maybe I should bring my lunch. No. I’ll just swing by McDonalds on my way to pay that bill that’s due by 5…” And the commentary just goes on and on, usually revving up to a pace that would make a Nascar driver fear for his life.
Negative Thoughts go something like: “I don’t know WHY Jenny can’t pick up her shoes when she comes in the door. Every time I have to pick up her shoes. What am I, the maid? I’m late again. Well, what’s new? Always late for something. And look at this mess. I am so sick of this mess, I’m about to scream. I’m tired, and now I’m left here, trying to do the laundry and cook supper. This is so old! When did I sign up for this…”
You get the picture.
Now if you’ve been following my writing–especially the nonfiction stuff–you know that I was raised on positive thinking. My parents had every Zig Ziglar tape out there, and I knew most of them by heart.
What I have learned since really beginning my relationship with God when I was 34 is that without God at the center of it, positive thinking doesn’t work all that great because it’s simply YOU trying to battle the busyness thoughts and the negative thoughts on your own consistently and permanently!
Anyone as tired as I am when I say that?!
Well, as my friend and I were talking, I said that your thoughts are like riding a horse. Stay with me here, this is good. Your thoughts are the horse. You are the rider.
Now if you know ANYTHING about riding a horse, you know that without good instruction, you could wind up about anywhere if you just let the horse go where it so chooses.
In fact, my sister when she was about 10, had a horse that threw its bit. The bit is the part of the bridle that fits in the horse’s mouth. When you pull the bridle right or left, the bit puts pressure on the horse’s mouth and the horse will turn the way you want to go to make the uncomfortable feeling go away. It’s a very simple system really. Except that she had a bullheaded horse that had learned to throw the bit.
The second the bit was out of its mouth, she lost control and went for the ride of her life–holding on because she couldn’t control it!
Now, just for a second, I want to share something else that’s going to sound like it’s out of left field, but it’s really not.
The other day I heard about a fascinating study they have done on the brain. The scientists were able to pinpoint the area of the brain that carries out decisions. However, there is no part of the brain that “lights up” in any of the scans to show them what part MAKES the decisions.
In the New Age/meditation realm, the first chakra is actually pictured ABOVE the head, meaning that it is not the brain that is doing the “thinking” at all. It’s “something else.”
To me, this is our soul, our “higher self,” the part of us that lives on even when the body dies.
So it is THAT part that is making the decisions, and it is our brain that is the “horse” which is carrying out those decisions.
But here’s the fascinating part. Most of us let our brain, our “horse” do whatever it wants to do! We don’t “guide” it. We don’t “direct” it. We just follow along with whatever it happens to come up with, and then we wonder why our lives are a mess.
Here’s a new thing to try: Start being the one guiding and directing your thoughts! “Take every thought captive.” “As a man thinketh, so does he live.” That’s what these mean!
Think of your thoughts not as random or out of your control. Rather, think of them as a horse that YOU put the bit in its mouth, and YOU (and God) guide.
When you start hearing busyness thoughts, take a moment to breathe, slow your thoughts down. This is not a track race to see whose thoughts can go the fastest. Spiraling or zooming thoughts is a sign that the horse is controlling YOU, not the other way around.
When you start hearing negative thoughts, realize that you have the ability to stop those, to pull them up short, and to turn them to something more productive. So if your horse starts, “I’m such a failure. I never get anything right…” Pull that up and say, “I’m not perfect, but that’s okay. God didn’t make me to be perfect. He made me to love me. NOW, what in this situation can I do to make it a LITTLE better?”
Learn to ask good questions like: What is God wanting me to learn here? How can I make this a little better? What CAN I do?
And most of all, give all the negative thoughts and the busyness thoughts to God. “God, I need help to quiet my thoughts and breathe. Please help me.”
The other fascinating thing is that my friend had recently read something by the Reverend Billy Graham, who after all of these years being with Christ and preaching the Good News, STILL has to consciously guide his thoughts away from fear into faith, away from selfishness into love, away from freak-out into control.
Further, this is a personal thing. No one else can do it for you. In fact, reading the stories of both Billy Graham’s daughter and Zig Ziglar’s daughter, you realize that just because their parents had learned to be successful and positive, didn’t mean they naturally were. It wasn’t until they got their own horse under control and learned to do this for themselves that life became more peaceful and doable.
So practice training your horse. If it’s too fast, slow it down. If it turns a direction you don’t want to go, learn to guide it in a better direction. Most of all… God will help! Let Him!