Today is a wonderful guest post from Brandy McDonald, a friend and wise mother of two. Brandy is sharing about toxic thoughts; Thoughts are real. What you think about on a daily basis affects and shapes your reality. Your thought life also affects your emotional and physical well-being. There are good thoughts and there are toxic thoughts.
One of the leading experts on this subject is Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist. I love her research. She does an excellent job of explaining how our mind controls our brain.
According to Dr. Leaf, “75-95% of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. Fear, all on its own, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones.“
This astounds me. What Dr. Leaf is talking about is real and I have first hand experience on the havoc and debilitating affects that anxiety and panic can have on your mental and physical well-being. After participating in one of her programs (more on that later) I was shocked at how my physical and emotional well-being changed dramatically by renewing my mind on a daily basis.
Here are some examples of Toxic Thoughts that Dr. Leaf outlines on her website:
1 How many “could-have”, “would-have”, “should-have” statements have you made today?
2 How many “if onlys” were part of your inner vocabulary today?
3 How many times have you replayed in your head a conversation or situation that pained you, or one that hasn’t even occurred yet?
4 How many scenarios have you created of the unpredictable future?
5 How much is speculation taking out of your day?
6 How passive is your mind?
7 How honest are you with yourself?
8 Are you at cross-purposes with yourself – going through the motions, but not really committed to the goal, saying one thing but meaning another?
9 How distorted is your thinking? Are you forming a personal identity around for example, a disease? Do you speak about “my arthritis”, “my multiple sclerosis”, “my heart problem”?
10 Do you ever make comments like “nothing ever goes right for me”; “everything I touch fails”; “I always mess up”?
If we are honest with ourselves, these types of thoughts flow through our minds every day.
I love how Romans 12:2 reminds us “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good pleasing and perfect will.”
I think it’s fair to say that the thinking pattern of this world is fear, anxiousness, worry and the list goes on. As a mother, I can find all kinds of things to be afraid of or worry about. When I put my mental energy into worry and anxiety my energy and joy are depleted before lunch time. But Scripture reminds us there is a better pattern of thinking. I do not have to be plagued by fear and worry and have it dictate how I live and feel.That’s a tough road.I know,I’ve lived it.
The first step to avoid toxic thoughts is awareness. Do a mental scan and become aware of what is circulating in your mind, particularly be aware of the negative thoughts that seem to continually “pop” up in your mind. If it pops up more than once, address it. Don’t just let that thought linger in your mind.
The next step is to replace that negative thought with the truth. Write that truth or affirmation down, say it out loud, and then replay that truth in your mind every time the toxic thought comes up in your mind.
Creating healthy thoughts and thought patterns takes practice. It’s something that requires daily attention and we must be intentional about it.
I personally needed a step by step course of action to help me get rid of my anxious thoughts, so I chose Dr. Caroline Leaf’s 21 Day Brain Detox program (only 7 minutes a day). I honestly could not believe how much better I felt just after a week of her program. Her online program includes a short video and then 5 steps for you to do each day for 21 days. It was amazing to me how much better I felt mentally and physically by addressing my unhealthy thought patterns.
I have learned that what I think about is my choice. Some days it is a real challenge to get my thoughts going in the right direction. Some days I never quite make it out of the mental pit but, I’m working on it.
I’ll leave you with Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”