Have you ever found yourself lost in a spiral of negative thoughts, wondering if there’s a way out? Are you living in the shadow of fear, cynicism, or loneliness? Join us, as we dive into Jenny Allen’s enlightening book, “Get Out of Your Head”, and uncover a Christian perspective on controlling our thoughts and emotions.
In this episode, we explore the power of our thoughts and how they impact our emotions, behaviors, and decisions. We draw from Jenny Allen’s book, which masterfully intertwines the neuroscience of thought patterns with Christian beliefs.
By serving God and others, being grateful in all circumstances, and finding the good in others, we can point towards the joy we have now and the joy that is to come.
What you’ll learn:
- Tools to combat toxic thought patterns, using wisdom from Jennie Allen’s book
- How to trust Jesus over our own abilities
- How to overcome challenges of negative thought spirals
- Ways to confront fears, embrace community, overcome cynicism, and cultivate gratitude
Featured on the Show:
- Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen
Click HERE to watch this video to learn The 3 Things to Avoid When Reading Self-Help Books
Listen to the Full Episode:
Welcome to the Mom On Purpose Podcast. I’m Lara Johnson and I’m here to teach you how to get out of your funk, be in a better mood, and play more with your kids. Manage your home better. Get your to-do list done and live your life on purpose with my proven method. This is possible for you, and I’ll show you how.
You’re not alone anymore. We’re in this together.
All right, welcome everyone to the Book Club, the Mom On Purpose Book Club, formerly known as the Busy Moms Book Club. I wanted to rebrand it, make sure it matches with the podcast and all the other things, because that’s what we’re doing. We’re living on purpose. This month we are doing it’s called Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen. I love the cover. I think it’s just beautiful. Anything with bright, pretty colors like that.
We were just talking a second ago how, when I go through and I find books, some of them are recommendations from people and then I read reviews on them. I don’t always know a lot about the authors, and I don’t know a lot about the books. When I picked this up, the beginning said stopping the spiral of toxic thoughts.
Nothing alludes to the fact that it’s a Christian book, unless you actually know the author. There’s really no way that you would know that, but it’s a very Christian book. It was really cool for me to take the neuroscience, where we talk about thought patterns a lot in my coaching, and bring it together with Christian beliefs, which is also what I do in a lot of my coaching.
It was cool to see someone else do the same thing and the scriptures that she brings in and all of the things that she talks about. I really liked her philosophy around it. I think you’re going to really enjoy this book as we dive into it.
Just to start, Jennie Allen again is the author. She is the creator of something, and I did get it wrong in the email. That’s a funny story. My husband actually sent the reminder email because I forgot to before my appointment. I’m sitting in the waiting room for my appointment and my poor husband. I’m texting him telling him how to send the reminder email. I had written everything out in the Notes app of my phone and then sent it to him. He mistaken it.
But Jennie Allen, she’s the creator of IF: Gathering. I think in the email he just wrote Gathering because he was a little stressed out. He didn’t know what IF: Gathering was, which is cute.
IF: Gathering, which is a very large Christian conference for women, Jennie Allen is the one that created this. I believe they travel around. I’ve heard it just in the social media space. I’ve never attended one, but that’s her background, as well as just her life experience and all of the people that she meets within her ministry, within this conference, this ministry that she’s created. When she is talking, she does understand a lot of the neuroscience stuff, but she does bring in all of her Christian beliefs and that’s where you get the two beautifully married together.
She starts out with a very interesting story. She starts out with this thought based on the scripture I’m trying to see if I have it. I have the scripture underlined but I don’t think I have the reference. Hopefully we’ll find it as we go. The Bible records Paul’s bold declaration that we are to take every thought captive to obey Christ. She says take every thought captive. Is that possible? Have you even tried? That’s the basis for the book that we are to take every thought captive to obey Christ.
I really liked that because within the work that I do within the life coaching, we are looking at our thoughts a lot. She goes on to describe how our thoughts are creating our emotions, which then causing us to act and behave in certain ways.
To actually hear it as a command or a recommendation from Paul in the Bible was a very different experience to think about that as I entered. What she taught us about thoughts in the book that’s just my invitation to you at the beginning of this is that we can take every thought captive to really allow ourselves to look at that.
She then goes on to talk about the pattern that we see within our brain We’ve talked about this before in Book Club where we have some kind of thought which then leads us to some kind of emotion which then causes us to behave or dictate our decisions or our behaviors, which then leads us to some kind of consequence, some kind of outcome in our lives.
She uses this just as the basis of what we’re going to be talking about with our thoughts, which we already spent a lot of time talking about in the Book Club and on the podcast and all of that. She just goes on to say our emotions are a byproduct of the way that we think.
She said so much, and she has a lot of references. I didn’t pull up the references for this, but when you do read the book, if you choose to read it, I would recommend going through and looking at the references and going and reading those articles and seeing where all of the science and the statistics come from.
She said according to researchers, the vast majority of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of a toxic thought life. She says what if I told you that one beautiful, powerful thought could shift this chaotic spiral of toxic thoughts in your life for the better?
What she then goes on to say is, when we’re looking at our toxic thoughts and part of the way our human mind works, she really invites us to consider this as a spiritual battle. She says the greatest spiritual battle of our generation is being fought between our ears, meaning our brain, and the way that our brain works. I really appreciated that.
She mentioned that when we’re looking at this, there are two things that are happening. When we are looking at thoughts, there’s Satan and there is Christ. When we are leaning more and observing our thoughts and working with Christ in our thought work, we are able to become more spiritually connected to our purpose, to the Savior, to His Spirit, whereas when we are stuck in our toxic thought spirals, that’s actually coming from the adversary himself.
I’ve always really believed that, but to see an author really laying it out for us was very fascinating. As she continues to share some of her experiences, I wanted just to outline that from the very beginning that when we’re talking about this this is what she’s talking about the spiritual battle between our ears is our thoughts in our brain and we’re feeling the spiritual battle between good versus evil, which is again such an interesting way to think about it.
She goes on to say that within our thoughts there are some lies that we believe. I thought this was so fascinating, the way she outlined this. She said her friend who is a licensed therapist said that there’s three lies that we believe. She said almost any thoughts, any toxic thoughts, can all come back to one of these three things that we are helpless, that we are worthless and that we are unlovable.
Okay, so that’s kind of the way she’s shaping it, but she said what’s really interesting is that when we get stuck in these cycles, it’s also changing the way that we view God, when we believe we’re helpless, worthless or unlovable.
She says every lie we buy into about ourselves is rooted in what we believe about God, and I was like hold up, that’s really deep. Okay, so I’m going to read it one more time. Every lie we buy into about ourselves is rooted in what we believe about God. Then she goes on to explain it. Let’s say I tend to feel worthless and invisible.
And let’s say I read Ephesians and learn that God, because he deeply loves me, chooses me and adopts me. Even if I don’t overtly deny the validity of that premise, I still doubt that it’s true for me. And so, when we’re looking at this on, like we are worthless, but we are also children of God, we’re believing that we’re worthless, then, therefore, we are not believing the power of being a child of God.
That is the like, the validity or the doubt that it’s true for me, and so, as I started thinking about that as we go through the book, that was a very different way to look at the lies and the toxic thoughts as being a reflection of our beliefs about God and who we are on a very spiritual level. So, I think it’s important to recognize that at this point.
This is where she starts talking about the spiritual, what’s the word? Like the attacks, the spiritual attacks that are coming on each of us, and so she talks about her experience she’s called it like her 18-month experience where she started down a very deep spiral where the toxic thinking was starting to produce an alternative reality for her.
And when she talks about this okay, sorry, Ashley says, yes, I love this, claiming and seeing our identity as everything. So much gold here, thank you. Yes, I completely agree, Ashley. And when we’re really able to see this as like the lies that we believe and how it’s affecting our faith, I guess that was like a really fun way for me to be diving into this book.
So, she goes on to say that the danger of toxic thinking is that it produces an alternate reality, one in which distorted reasoning actually seems to make sense. I don’t know if you’ve ever been stuck in a toxic and toxic thinking or some kind of thought spiral, but yeah, all of a sudden, you’re thinking things that seem reasonable.
But if you were in any other situation or if it was a friend saying the same thing to you, you would recognize how distorted it is. And every single one of us are experiencing that when we start getting into these alternate realities for herself. So, she said, over time she started going into this spiral where she started living this distortion where she started believing these lies about herself.
And then, when she started getting there, then she started doubting, like if God was even there and if he was even aware. And it went down and down and down and it was a very long, drawn out process for her.
And she said she finally opened up to a friend and looked at her friend and kind of like, laid everything out on the table and her friend looked at her. She said, Jennie, this is the enemy. She said none of this is from God. This awfulness you’ve been experiencing, this isn’t who you are.
And she said it was interesting how those words had pierced the inner chaos and penetrated her mind. And she said that’s where things like started changing for her, to where she was really starting to see like her vision was restored. And I will say it, and I appreciate that she puts this in here this is on page 33.
She puts this in here as an important note and it seemed like a very just odd thing, like a step away, and sometimes there’s like side stories. But I really, as I started reading that important note, I was grateful that she did put that in there, because what she’s saying is, although we are speaking a lot about thoughts and our ability to control thoughts and the spiritual battle that’s happening right now and being able to control our thoughts and connect with Christ.
She said please also know that there are people regularly fighting on a chemical level with this, where it’s not just controlling your thoughts, that sometimes there is additional help that might be needed to address the chemical breakdown that might be happening.
And she said, you know she’s mentioned it a couple times in the book where her husband has really struggled with depression, and she’s just said there are seasons when we need help in the form of counseling and medicine. She said so being able to recognize that there is thought work, but also that there are other forms of help can be also very beneficial and essential force on people.
So, I was glad that she kind of took a sidestep, put that in and is now going back to the book.
Okay, so let’s continue on where she talks about being able to interrupt the spirals that are happening within our own thoughts. So, she talks about how we are under attack, you know, going back to the good versus evil, and I just wanted to share the story because it was really powerful and really crazy all at the same time.
But it’s important to understand, like, where she’s coming from when she is talking about this attack. So, she goes up. You know she’s speaking at this event and she’s in her hometown and she is sharing all about how there is good and bad in the world and that they’re Satan is trying to grab hold of us and that we need to stand strong and really being able to like, speak from the heart and recognizing that there is like an enemy out there that is trying to attack us and get a grip on our minds.
So, she said she’s as she’s presenting, she goes out into the auditorium. She said she’s always very careful. Now that she’s speaking at larger events, she’s very cautious about her safety.
And she said at this point there was only her and one other like really nice looking woman there and all of a sudden this nice woman, like looking woman, comes over to her and she’s just looks at her and she said suddenly her warm smile disappeared and her eyes narrowed as if she focused intently on me.
She says we’re coming for you and an urgent whisper; you need to quit talking about us, we’re coming for you. She said her comments were so out of context that I couldn’t sort out what she meant. She said ma’am. I said I’m confused. What are you talking about? With chilling, certainly certainty, she said you know exactly what I’m coming about. She says I’m sorry. I said, still seeking clarity.
She repeated quit speaking of us. She said I don’t know what you’re talking about. I said Again. She said you know exactly what I’m talking about. But I didn’t. And then I did, she said.
I took several steps backward, turned toward the auditorium, and approached one of the security guards. Let them know that this woman just made a threat against me. Can you please keep an eye on her? She then goes up and continue speaking about what she is talking about. She said suddenly. It was almost like she said, figuring the security personnel would take care of the distraction, I launched back into my talk. This was just a crazy woman making empty threats. I would go home and forget all about it.
She said, then the devil overplayed his hand while the woman was screaming bloody murder in the foyer. I guess they were trying to take her out. The power went out. I’m talking about all the lights, the entire sound system, the giant screens behind me, everything. We were silent there in the dark, and she said that they have tons of backup systems like this has never happened at this, this church, and it was heavily staffed, but while all the lights were out, she said that they continue to hear all of the screaming and they all just sat listening to it Like, oh yeah, that’s terrifying.
But she goes on to say she said the experience could have been terrifying, but instead it had a different outcome. Initially it made me wild with faith and I really appreciated that, because, as she goes into talking about everything, this is where she’s talking about.
It is literally a good versus evil attack, and that’s a very real situation where she had a very real experience with the dark side, with some woman who is not feeling the spirit of Christ will just say I never to judge another person, but based on what she says she’s shared in the book, that’s what I will say. But what she then goes on to say is that it’s so important, it is so important for us to lean on Jesus Christ and on and on God as we’re working through our thought patterns so that we are able to be doing the like, working towards our purpose, working towards being good in the world.
So, she goes on to then talk about how do we, like she had mentioned, how do we take a thought captive? And when we’re talking about taking a captive thought, she’s talking about like breaking a spiral.
And the way I think about like a thought spiral, it just feels very much like this in my body, where it’s like a tornado, okay, where you kind of get stuck and you’re just churning, churning, churning. She said there is one thought that can successfully interrupt every negative thought pattern. It’s this I have a choice.
And I think it’s so important when we are stuck in these thought spirals where it doesn’t feel like we can ever get out, everything’s out of our control, and this is not to say that when we say I have a choice, like we are in full control, but she uses this as a basis for building other healthy thoughts that will lead us back to Christ. And it all starts with that. I have a choice. She said that.
She said the people who stand out to me are the ones who have chosen to trust Jesus more than trusting their ability to make everything work out fine. And I will say that I am very guilty of this. To where, because I’m a very independent and a very strong person, I feel like I’m very mentally strong, I’m equipped with a lot of incredible tools within my coaching business, that I do my best to make sure that everybody and everything works out fine.
But the difference here and this is where I appreciated, she pointed this out is that I can have a choice to trust Jesus over trusting my own abilities, and I was grateful for just that very small shift that she presents to us. So, then she goes on to say that when we are taking our thoughts captive, what we are allowing to do is to look beyond the flesh and set our mind on the spirit, which is life and peace, as it talks about in Romans, chapter eight, verse five.
She said if I could truly have a mind that dwells on the spirit that I, my life would be full of peace. And so that’s where she kind of starts out every single day. These are the shifts that we, she invites us to start making. So, this was again going to the footnote. So, it would be good to look up all of this research. So, I’m just going to quote her, and you can look up the research on your own, because I always want to make sure they’re from reputable sources.
She said we have many thoughts per day. She said there are positive and negative thoughts, but she said that the statistic is a full 70% are negative thoughts. That’s a lot If you think about like I’ve read lots of things, like you can have hundreds of thousands. I’ve read 30 to 60,000 to 100,000 thoughts in a day. I don’t actually know how they quantify that, but regardless of you know 70% of those as negative thoughts. So, she goes on to say we need a new normal.
So, one of the things that I liked that she presents to us is we can start mapping our mental story. Somebody gives me an activity. I always get excited because I’m such a visual person. So, what she gives us an invitation is to write in the center of a blank page the primary feeling or emotion you’re experiencing right now.
So, the example she gives is overwhelmed. She said you might write anxious, peaceful, angry, sad, whatever it is. And from there she says now draw a big circle around that word, scatter around the large circle everything you can think of contributing to that feeling or emotion. So, she gives us the feeling of overwhelmed and she gives us the examples of work, faith, friends, health, body.
For me, if I’m looking at overwhelmed. I would probably say like kids needs would be one. I would say house management would be another one. I would say physical health would be one for me, and then I would say the other one. That kind of thought of what else is like causing me to feel really overwhelmed. I would probably just say like relationships. I would say like I would say marriage, friendships, all of that.
All good things, of course, like I love my friendships, I love my marriage, but it doesn’t mean that having a lot of stuff going on at the same time doesn’t cause me to feel overwhelmed. Okay, so take those and circle those Again. This is where we’re starting to break the toxic thought spirals that we’re mapping our mental story.
But from there she’s a key visual on she said list how the factors have been contributing to the emotion that you’re experiencing. So, it would be like date nights, like needing to find a babysitter. It might be like going out with friends and needing to find a baby. All of that is very overwhelming to me. The household management also, for me, includes the yards and it’s like picking up leaves right now, because they’ve all started dropping and we have tons of trees. Physical health might be like finding the time to exercise and I’m like I’m crazy right now. I’m crazy right now.
One of the things I’m working on is learning how to eat meat. I really don’t like chicken and, you know, in order to like, improve my physical health, I need to work on my protein. I know there’s lots of ways, but overall, my family will eat, and learning how to cook chicken and learning how to eat it. So, for me, that’s something that also that also causes me overwhelmed. You know, with my kid’s needs, there’s lots there, okay, so I want you to kind of map this out for yourself and whatever that thing is, she said the next thing, step two, is to talk to God about it.
She said take a moment to with ever whatever you wrote down, to pray about it and talk through each of the things that you’ve written with God and to ask him about things and to show you where you are, have lives that you’re believing or things that you can improve on. So, she said then step three is to look for patterns and common themes in your circle.
Are you worrying about things that you cannot control? Are you angry about how you’ve been wronged? Are you obsessed with what you don’t have? And so, she then says you know, as we’re looking at this mental story map, what you are doing is taking it to God and allowing him to guide you in your thought, work in the areas that you can improve and strengthen and use him as your guide instead of just trusting yourself to walk through that process. So, she goes on to say if we want to stop our patterns of toxic thinking, we must notice what’s happening and take action, countering any lies we believe about God with the truth that interrupts the downward spiral. And if we do that, we’re going to need some help, which then she invites us to think about, like the mind of Christ.
What I like about what she talks about with the mind of Christ. She says we need a complete transformation. Our minds exchange for the mind of Christ. She said our efforts won’t take us across the finish line without forcing a shift inside of us. She said self-help can offer only a better version of yourself, but Christ is after a whole new you, and we do it because we want to live a new creation kind of life, a life that truly matters, a life in Christ that God has promised.
So, the next section that she introduces is how we actually do that, and she gives us steps. But before we do that, I want to really emphasize what she just said here. She said self-help can offer that better version of yourself and as someone that like we do this every month we are reading a lot of self-help books we’re all looking for that better version.
I think about it differently. I just taught a Sunday school class to teenagers about this how, like, we take off the old man and put on the new, where we become a whole new version of us. I really appreciate the visual in Moana. You guys know it’s like one of, I think, one of the most incredible movies that have ever been made, one that every single time I watch I’m blown away. So, there’s this part at the very end that I was showing my Sunday school class to like reiterate this new version in Christ. And it’s the very end where take on the I still haven’t seen that. Okay, on say, that is your homework for this one.
I’m like, especially after this, what I’m about to tell you. I hope I don’t spoil it. I probably will spoil it if you haven’t seen it. It is such a beautiful metaphor to becoming all new. There is a part where Moana comes head-to-head with the lava monster and there’s something very specific that she does that allows the lava monster to become a whole new version of herself. And that’s all I’m going to say about that, since you haven’t seen it. But when I see that, I can’t help but think about Jesus Christ doing that same thing for us, where we are able to literally crumble, like pieces of us are able to crumble and we’re able to become a new me. And when we are going into this next section of the book, I want you just to keep that kind of in the back of your mind is like, this whole new version of you, because Christ is putting that, like you were, you were using Christ as the catalyst for that change. All right, so that’s a lot. That’s really deep, but we’re going to go into what she invites us.
Now, remember, in order to stop a toxic thought spiral, she says it’s I have a choice. So, she said, in order to enter a battle and in order to take these thoughts captive, we need to be creating some battle lines. Now, when we have these battle lines drawn, it’s important to recognize a very distinct mind shift.
Okay, she said most people believe that the battle is underway. The good news is, she said, because Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, he has already won the battle. The victory has already been won. She says it’s already yours, it’s already mine. She says what’s left is for us to claim that victory. If God is in us and is for us, then you and I can choose to fight from a place of victory. We can stand confident that God will prevail.
And I think that’s the important mindset shift that she’s inviting us. It’s not that the outcome is unknown, it’s that the battle has already been won. So, even though challenges come up, even though life circumstances are really hard and it’s hard to navigate, that we can stand firm in the belief that the victory is already ours because Jesus Christ died for us. He is the one that allows this to be possible so that we can stand here as we’re doing our thought work.
And I appreciated that mindset shift because I do think we talk about this battle a lot in the Christian culture, this good versus evil, and there is always kind of a mindset of like we don’t really know what’s going to happen. But we do. We do know what’s going to happen. The battle has already been won. So, as we draw that she then starts presenting I think she says, seven steps total of how we are going to work through the battle from this place of it’s already been won. So, when she’s presenting these steps to us, she breaks it into two parts.
The first is, I would say, the tool, and then the second is like the mindset shift. So, we’ll just say mindset. So, the first tool that she gives us is to hold space or silence, and then the mindset shift again, like I have a choice.
The mindset shift is I choose to be still with God. Now, the first time I learned this, we had a leader in church when I was a teenager and he invited us to be still with God. And I remember feeling really hesitant to that because when I’m getting ready, I’m listening to music, and I recognized I filled my brain with so much noise and he invited us to try turning the noise off and see what happens if you can feel the spirit speak to you on certain things.
And I remember taking that invitation. I was really grateful for that invitation and at this point in my life there have been times where I have to come back to this holding space for silent and being still with God because there is so much noise of raising a family, there is so much noise of adulthood, but there is also added noise that I put in, of searching for things on Amazon or listening to a podcast.
I love podcasts, but there was a time where I stepped away listening to all of them except my own, and so at this point, this is where, when we choose to be still with God, this is allowing us to step outside of our toxic thought patterns and reconnect with God.
Anse says yes, I was just telling my daughter that she’s being overstimulated and needs to learn to sit in the classroom of silence. Yes, like, what a beautiful, even just a beautiful metaphor that, like silence can be the classroom, and I know you’re speaking about that in a very different situation, but I just love thinking about the words on that too that I find, when I am silent, there is a very different classroom that’s taking place.
It’s one that is very I’m very in tune with God, not always, but it’s a practice and that’s what she invites us. So, she goes on to say that we have to escape into busyness, and she outlines three fears that are found here, and I liked these fears, because so often we talk about fear of failure. We talk about fear of letting people being like letting people down, and I feel like I’ve worked on those.
But the fears that she presented I was like, oh yeah, I can definitely see. That’s my fear of sitting in silence.
So, one of them was the fear of being put to work. Now, when we are feeling maxed out and we are oftentimes we are afraid to come to God in fear that he’s going to give us more to do. Definitely had this thought before and I’m like, oh, what if I pray? Like where do you need me? He might tell me I’m not sure I want to do anything more, but also, it’s a perfect opportunity to see okay, well, maybe there are things that I can put to work, but I can also pray. What are the things that I can remove and then do the hard work of creating boundaries around those things.
So, she said the fear of being put to work, sitting alone with God has a way of bringing action items that we try so hard to avoid on the surface of our conscious. She said sometimes it can be like needing to forgive someone that’s wronged you, reaching out to a person you hurt. There’s a lot of things that can do a million different things.
So, the next one is the fear of being asked to change. I will say that I have been more comfortable with needing to change and inviting that change into my life. I think what is more difficult in this now is the invitation to change around my worries. I have been feeling an increased amount of stress in my body based on some of the worries that I have, and I’m feeling God like inviting me to change and like giving those worries back to him and remembering that he is there alongside of me. I’m not like going until I’m exhausted and then he steps in, and so for me, there is a fear of that.
I’m like, okay, I’m being asked to trust more, and that’s scary. So, whatever it is like, maybe it is hard for you to think about changing right now. Maybe that is your fear. And then the third one.
She says the fear that you’re all alone in the world, and I think this is what I think about this right now, in the phase that I’m at, where I would love to be alone. Right, I’ve got kids like there’s always somebody here and it sounds really nice, but that’s not the kind of alone that she’s talking about. The alone that she’s talking about is like if I were to reach out to God and he doesn’t respond.
Suddenly you are alone in your struggles and that can feel really scary to approach God, not knowing what his response will be and when he will show up. So that’s the kind of all alone that she is talking about.
She said one of the other fears that kind of lies underneath the surface is that I cannot face God as I am. She said the truth is that God, who is the creator and sovereign over the universe, and God who conquered sin and death, is the same God who wants to be with you in your pain, doubt, shame and other circumstances. God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance, not keep you away from it.
So, when we’re going back and being able to think about holding space for silence coming into God this is what the invitation is that we have to address these fears in order to come unto him and be able to fight the good fight with him. So, then the other thing she said is like really being able to think about God. And she said there she was talking with someone and this friend, she’s a senior in college. And she said Jennie, I know I’m supposed to be thinking about God instead of all this chaos and clutter.
One question, what do you think about whenever you think about God? And she said she kind of stood back and was stunned by the question. She said, well, I’ve never thought about that. What do I think about when I think about God? And so, she said that’s kind of the gap that so many of us experience is that we don’t actually know how to think about God. Like, what do we actually think about is kind of vague. So, she gives us options. You know a way to kind of work through this formula, if you will, on how can I think about God.
She says it’s really easy to say I’m upset because I got passed over for a promotion, I’m angry because she was rude, you know those kinds of things. Those are the toxic thoughts. But if we are being still with God, she says the formula is the negative emotion plus the reason and then changing it to so I will, and then the choice that you’re making.
So, an example I am upset, negative emotion and I was passed over. That was the reason for the upset. So, I will choose to remember that God has not forgotten me. I will, and the choice that you make I’m angry emotion, and she was rude. There’s the reason and I will choose to meditate on God’s kindness towards me.
So, she lists a bunch of these examples and that’s where I would give yourself permission to go through those examples as well, because I think it’s so good to really give yourself validation for your humanness and what you’re experiencing and still make choices to be still with God. Ok, so I want to spend a little bit more time on that one because I think it was so beneficial. But let’s move on to the next one lifelines, she says. So that is the tool, and then the mindset is I choose to be known.
She said we are built to be seen and loved and there is a temptation for all of us to go at it alone. I do like that she brought up. She said God himself exists in a community. I’ve never thought about this. She talks about the Father, son and the Holy Spirit Three persons, one God, perfect community. Since God himself lives in community, he formed us to need community too.
She said the idea of living in community is yet one more instruction we tend to regard as a suggestion. Well, that doesn’t hit home. I don’t know what does, and there have been times where, because of my own experience, I have created very large barriers around people and kept people out of distance, and that has probably been my largest area of growth is allowing myself to lower my walls in order to let people in, and I’m really grateful that God has really worked with me on that to create a very secure community base.
And so, when we’re looking at how do we stop the toxic thought spirals, how do we turn more towards Christ, we’re developing a community as our lifelines. They are not a suggestion, and to really allow that we are hardwired for that is not a suggestion. It is an absolute need for our spiritual and physical selves.
Let’s see, she said, if we want to approach life fully in the way that Jesus himself modeled, then we will do life together instead of choosing to do it alone. And I thought about that even with the scriptures, where we think about Christ went to his disciples and started building community one by one, and it took time. And so, I think sometimes we have to allow ourselves time in order to bring our community together. So, there’s a couple things that she invites us to do.
She said, when we’re building out our lifelines, when we’re choosing to be known. We’re also choosing healthy people. That is a big one, I can tell you. I have built communities of unhealthy people in the past and none of us were good to each other.
So, notice that she’s a notice. I didn’t say perfect people, but whole people, healthy people, the people that see your strengths and weaknesses and are willing to also show their strengths and weaknesses. She goes on to say just ask, are you willing to ask for help? This is another huge one I’ve really struggled with over the last few years on being willing to ask for help.
In my mind, sometimes it’s easier to ask for physical help than it is to act, for when I’m struggling emotionally or mentally help, and so that’s something else, allowing yourself to be known. And then the other thing is to say yes, recognizing that there are times, even when you’re exhausted, that it’s OK to say yes, because sometimes those yeses can actually be very fulfilling, telling you there’s so many good things, all right.
So, then she goes on to number three. She says unafraid, and I’m just going to write I’m not going to write the mindset, because you’ll be able to look those up in the book. The mindset shift is I choose to surrender my fears to God. She says God is enough for me.
He chooses the least qualified, so he gets the glory. I don’t have to measure up, and I appreciate that, because so often it’s hard for us to see in our own distorted reality what is true. And then we’ll start comparing ourselves to other people to see how we’re measuring up and what we need to improve on. But the point is never to be at the top, to always measure up. The point is to be with Christ, because we will never be enough without Him.
And so, where she talks about here is she says it’s important to really get down to what is true. She says what gets us into the most trouble isn’t even real fear. She says we worry about things that may never happen. In fact, research shows that 97% of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind. Punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions Isn’t that, right? And then, honestly, he says he doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called. Oh my gosh. Yes, I love that, and I’ll just outline this. So, if you have the book, go to page 115.
She gives us an outline, and I’m just going to show it to you briefly, where you can walk through this on your own where you can grab a thought. What is it? You can diagnose the thought, is it true? And then I love this part Take it to God, what does God say about it? And then make a choice Am I going to believe God?
And I think that’s really beneficial for all of us to kind of walk that through. I think, especially in the self-help mindset world, that within coaching that I already live in, we really take time to think about is this true. But we’re taking it, that next step. I’m like taking it to God, like what does he say about it? And do I want to believe God is kind of that next step there. Ok, so then the next one. She says a beautiful interruption. She says I choose to delight in God.
So here she talks about cynicism and being able to understand that cynicism can happen. And we have talked in the past, like on the podcast, about pessimism, like the gifts of pessimism. I want to just shift away from it, not just think pessimistic mind meaning like a realist, but like cynicism. And she gives us a definition. Let me see if I can.
Cynicism is always driven by fear of the future or anger regarding the past. And then there’s like this foreboding joy. She says you’ll know that, like, cynicism is there as if, like you get annoyed when other people are optimistic, when someone’s nice to you and you wonder what that person wants, if you’re always guarded when you meet someone new, if you’re quick to notice people’s flaws or think they’re taking advantage of you.
She goes on to say that cynicism is destroying our ability to delight in the world around us and fully engage with others. And she invites us to look for the delight, to look for the awe of the world around us, and I appreciate that. Especially here in fall in Utah, I find that feeling in awe is very easy for me, but I forget that I can do that in other times of the year I would say spring was probably my other easier one but definitely in like the depths of winter it’s hard sometimes to feel that awe.
She said cynicism erodes our ability to see God. Rightly, cynicism is interpreting the world and God based on hurt you’ve experienced and the wounds that still like aping open. It forces you to look horizontally at people rather than vertically. So, I spent a lot of time journaling in this area and that’s where I would invite you to like really break down your walls and start looking for the beauty all around you as a way to stop the toxic spiral that Satan is inviting you towards.
So, we’ve got just like one more minute. I think I could spend a whole other time just on this, but I’m just going to outline these really quick.
So, five is the least important meaning. I choose to serve God and others and giving ourselves a chance to serve from a place of gratitude and joy, and not just when we have time. So, she talks a lot about humility here and allowing ourselves not to be the center of the universe but finding the lasting joy in serving other people. The next one is not overcome. She says I choose to be grateful. Sorry, this is the one where she goes more in depth into gratitude. She says no matter what comes up, we are upheld securely by God’s righteous right hand.
She says that when we are in victimhood, it’s another enemy of our mind that keeps us fixated on something other than God, believing the lie that we are at the mercy of our circumstances. So, she invites us to really spend time leaning on God and trusting and changing, like altering, our brain to find the gratitude of things.
So, like the shift that she provides for us is I am a victim to my circumstances versus my circumstances provide opportunities to experience the goodness of God, and that can be really hard when you feel like you have some really hard circumstances that are happening. But to step back and to see where can I see God’s hand, even in the hard things, she says we have to see God’s good purposes. We have to focus our gaze beyond our immediate situation and to put our thoughts on God eternally.
She says we don’t have to like our circumstances, but we can choose to look for the unexpected gifts that they might bring. So, if you feel like you’re in some really hard things right now, that’s where I would invite you to go through and write down some of those hard things. It’s okay not to like them but look for the unexpected gifts that may be there hidden a little bit, just waiting for you to find.
The last one that she gives us is to run your race, she said. I choose to seek for the good of others, and one of the things that she invites well, okay. So, here’s one thing that she said. My husband always says the definition of leadership is taking initiative for the good of others, and I appreciated that because when we’re able to really step outside of ourselves, to surrender to our circumstances, to be obedient to God, like we’re focused more on running our own race and we’re not having to focus on everything she wants.
But there is one thing that I like that she says. She says and then we’ll finalize with this she says negative thought patterns are first, I need to get rid of sin, she said.
Second, I need to run my race. No, this is negative thought patterns and I’ll explain it. And then, third, finally, see Jesus. So, she said that the reason why this is a negative thought pattern is that what we’re doing is putting Jesus at the very end of this, and she said what’s that doesn’t actually happen. That’s not real.
She said what if Jesus is here simultaneously, helping us get rid of our sin and running our race? It’s all happening at the same time. It’s not that we have to perfect ourselves before we can go and serve other people and fulfill our purpose, that we are fulfilling our purpose getting rid of sin at the same time with Jesus, and so that’s the biggest shift that she invites us to make is that we are able to start using all of those things simultaneously, which is what will stop the toxic thought patterns and allow us to always be looking towards the Savior in all that we do, in our mind, in our physical life, in the way that we feel.
And the last thing she said we are set free to serve, so our lives will point all people to the joy we have now and the joy that is to come, speaking very much about, like the Savior, and the peace and the joy that is found when we are constantly turning towards Him. So, there you have it. I hope you are able to get out of your head as we are turning more towards the Savior, Jesus Christ, and using Him as our guide through healing our toxic thought patterns.
All right, so anybody is welcome to stay on. If you have anything that you want to say, you can go over to the comments. I’m going to turn the recording off and then we’ll talk about the book for next month.
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