I fully admit, I stole this title from Jennie Allen. I’m currently studying through her incredible book Get Out of Your Head with a couple friends, and providentially ended up parked on chapters 10 (Delighting in God) and 11 (Cynical Thinking) for several weeks.
It’s funny when things like that happen. They seem coincidental, but in hindsight, I know it was completely on purpose. God’s sneaky like that.
The entire book is about toxic thinking and how — to put it simply — we can choosenot to go there. Scripture tells us to “take every thought captive,” (2 Corinthians 10:5) but man is that hard.
Or is it just me?
Just today, an individual lashed out at me over something that really had nothing at all to do with me. Instead of ignoring the pettiness, I let it tick me right off. Before I knew it, I’d spent several hours of my life stewing over this stupid thing — and even contemplated making a major life change because of it.
What a complete waste of time! Especially when I know the best solution is to pray for the individual, and let. it. go.
I do it all the time, though, and I bet I’m not alone. I’ll get aggravated over something my husband does, or politics, my weight, or the idiot who nearly ran me off the road because he was on his phone…anything, really. And before I know it, I’ve let my mind turn a non-issue with my husband, for example, into “he doesn’t love me anymore.”
And that, ladies and gents, is crazy. Certifiable, even.
But that’s how powerful the mind is. Jennie does a fantastic job talking about the science of the brain, and how we quite literally can retrain our brain to avoid toxic thinking. Clearly I’m still a work in progress, but at least I caught myself in the middle of that downward spiral today!
“Learning to capture our thoughts matters. Because how we think shapes how we live.” — Jennie Allen
I won’t unpack the book here — I’d rather you read it. But the underlying message is, when I feel an emotion (“the byproduct of the way we think”), I have a thought. From that thought comes a behavior — and therein lies the choice. I can choose to respond with grace (I’m not very good at this yet), or open my big mouth, and potentially adversely affect my relationships.
All because of an emotion I chose to let get the best of me.
Worth it? No way.
I’ll let God’s word and Jennie’s sum it up for us:
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2
“What we believe and what we think about matters, and the enemy knows it. And he is determined to get in your head and distract you from doing good and to sink you so deep that you feel helpless, overwhelmed, shut down, and incapable of rising to make a difference for the kingdom of God.”
I have a choice…you have a choice…that’s my parting thought today.
Let’s choose to give grace — to ourselves and others.
*Crossposted on Substack*