When Toxic Thoughts Take Over

by Cynthia Cavanaugh @CavCynthia

I am typically not your jump out of bed and greet the morning with a smile kind of person. I am what you might call a slow wake: a put my feet on the ground and get my tea before talking kind of individual. I’ve tried all sorts of things to change that disposition, but my hard wiring works against me. Having children has helped. I have learned that it is only possible to greet them with half a brain if I force myself to get up earlier than them.

Because I am not a morning person, it is a very bad idea to try get my mindset going in the right direction. That can make or break the tone for the day and impact my relationships.  It’s all too easy to allow leftover negative thoughts from the day before to impact a new day. No matter how I try to control them, they continue to plague me.

Lately, I have been working on how to get rid of those persistent negative thoughts. Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of Who Switched Off My Brain. advises, “Whatever you think about grows. Don’t focus on what you are going through but what you are going to.” I’ve been relearning a valuable truth: when I continue dwelling on the wrong thing, that focus will grow into bad behaviors and turn into toxic words.

So what can we do when toxic thoughts persist?

There is a reason that the Romans says “…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” (Romans 12:2 NIV). In other words, we can change how we think by renewing our thoughts.

When those negative thoughts come calling, we can decide to surrender them to Jesus. A great way to symbolize that decision is to write them down, then tear up the paper on which they are written. Then find a verse in the Bible to specifically counteract what you are struggling not to think, and when they threaten to sneak back, say that Scripture right out loud. The Word of God has the power to stop those nasty thoughts in their tracks.

If we aren’t careful, those toxic thoughts can…

  • Rob our joy – the toxicity can block our seeing the little things in life that can make us smile
  • Poison relationships – those poisonous thoughts can turn into small barbs of unkindness to others
  • Kill productivity – focusing on the negative can block our creativity and stop us from moving forward
  • Allow despair to reign – obsessing over situations that we can’t control keeps us from trusting in God. The enemy is all about disappointment and hopelessness.

I have experienced all of the above when I’ve chewed and chewed on toxic thoughts. It’s a habit that I am working to break with God’s help. There is too much at stake, not just for us, but for those lives we influence.

Will you join me? Let’s make a strategic plan to make sure we reclaim this ground in our mind for good!

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ… 2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB

Reclaiming joy when toxic thoughts take over – @CavCynthia on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

cynthia cavanaughAbout the author: Cynthia Cavanaugh is the author of five books, including Anchored, and is a speaker, life coach, and leadership professor at Trinity Western University. She knows nothing about coffee and is a self-proclaimed tea addict who loves connecting with women helping them to flourish. 

Join the conversation: What kinds of negative thoughts plague you?


4 thoughts on “When Toxic Thoughts Take Over

  1. That’s an easy question for me to answer: that I will not ever publish another book (I’m getting older…am I running out of time?). Life has kept me from seriously writing, but I’m still able to get a pitch out now and then. No bites. But I keep reminding myself that God miraculously got me published the first time (with Thomas Nelson, no less!!) and can do it again…if it is HIS will. So I keep giving it all back to Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Those are good thoughts, Cynthia. I’ve battled with negative thoughts a lot, too. I live in a part of the country where women and not accepted as leaders. It really hampers my ministry and efforts to reach children for Jesus. If I focused on that, I’d sink! Whenever I start to feel defeated, I remember WHO I am serving – and GOD is an equal opportunity employer! He will enable me to do what he has asked. If I keep that in mind, I do better. Sheri

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that I disappointed God by breaking my promise to become a doctor and that he is mad at me forever and I’ll never find him again, I fear that the people against me will always be stronger, that my life will never be good again, that God will never intervene again in my favor.

    I fear God doesn’t love me anymore because I can’t feel his presence in my life anymore. and so on, too many bad thoughts.


  4. Thanks Cynthia – with all the world chaos right now I feel we are called to be brave and fearless, especially where the children are concerned. I have been continually reminded that once Joseph got through his many tests in the pit and the prison – he never went back! Also, at the Last Supper Jesus told his disciples that he would not be saying much as he went through the crucifixion, which I continually remind myself when I want to grumble. It helps so much to remember we are Daughters of the King and all we need will be provided for in ways that are so much higher than our own understanding! Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

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