Because of the pandemic, we’ve all been alone with our thoughts for longer than we probably ever have before. As a result, many of us have realized just how many toxic thoughts we battle on a daily basis. Thankfully, Pastor Craig’s new book, Winning the War in Your Mind, will help us overhaul those toxic thought spirals with God’s truth. But we wondered … what if we could talk with him about it? We were blown away by what he shared. Listen to the full conversation here, but read below for our favorite part.
Question: Let’s say we have a thought like: I’m going to fail at this. Then we read Philippians 4:8, reminding us to fix our thoughts on what’s true, right, good, and praiseworthy. We try to do that, but then immediately we feel stressed again. We feel like we failed at renewing our minds. How do we get out of that cycle?
Pastor Craig: It’s a war. It’s a battle. You’re a spiritual person in a physical body. And what happens to your body? Sometimes it gets tired. Sometimes we get hangry, and all those things impact our thought life.
And what happens is when we think a thought, it’s easier to think it again—it’s just pure science. This is creating a neural pathway in our brain.
And so, if you keep thinking, I’m not good enough, I’m not going to measure up, your brain gets really good at thinking that. And the moment you start to try to think a different thought, it feels awkward.
I’ll give you a really random example. I just turned 53. When I was 52, I finally started taking jujitsu, which is really funny because I waited until I was old to do it. I had been wanting to do it for 15 years or so. And I always thought I was too old, or I didn’t have the time, or whatever. And I got to the place where a leadership coach told me, “Hey, why don’t you push yourself?”
When I go roll out with people who have a black belt, all I think about is surviving for now because it is so foreign to me. I’m a pretty decent athlete. I’m in pretty decent shape. And what happens there is so technical and so different that it takes so much effort. My mind has to focus so much to get my body to do it. I’ve now done it for about six months, and it’s getting a little bit easier. I’m getting a little bit better. That’s exactly what it’s like.
If you play the piano for the first time, you’re going to clunk at first. Over time, you’ll clunk a little less. And then one day, you’ll make some music. If you’re going in the kitchen, you might try to learn to cook something and burn it. But then you don’t burn it as much the next time. And that’s how it’s going to be with your mind.
The deeper the groove, the more time it’s going to take, and that’s why you renew your mind with truth. It’s not a one-time event. The gravitational pull back toward what’s comfortable will be stronger than you can imagine.
And so, whatever that thought is for you, you’ve got to recognize it and then find a truth to replace it. Then you’ve got to think it, say it, write it, text it, email it. Think it again, say it out loud, sing it, say it with your friends. Think it in the morning, think it at lunch, think it in the evening—over and over and over again. Just say the truth, whatever it is you want to be true about your mind.
Say it, think it, confess it, even when you don’t feel it, and then do it some more. It’s almost like you’re faking it. For example, if I’m really, really hungry right now because I haven’t eaten in seven hours, it’s like me saying, “I’m not hungry. I’m not hungry. I’m not hungry at all. I don’t like food. I don’t want that food you’re eating.”
You feel like you’re lying because it’s so foreign to your mind. But what you’re doing is declaring a truth your mind has not yet believed. That’s why it feels like lying. And so you declare the truth over and over and over again until you believe it.
So, this is letting God through His Word tell you: You have what it takes. You’re not pathetic. You’re worth something. Your life is valuable. You can overcome. You can be different. You can be free. You’re not stuck in this addiction forever. You don’t have to live in the shame of your past. Your God in you is enough.
Whatever it is, it’s that truth that’s different than the toxic thoughts you believe right now. So, it doesn’t feel true, but it is, and you say it over and over and over again. There’ll be days when you feel like you didn’t make any progress, but the fact that you worked on it was progress. Period.
P.S. Find out more about Pastor Craig’s new book here.