3 Steps to Becoming the Boss of Your Thoughts

You’re never going to get over this.

You can’t keep up. People just continue to lap you in life.

He’s got everything he wants. All he has to do is snap his fingers.

It is so easy for her! She doesn’t have to deal with the baggage that I endure.

I’m tired of pretending. I don’t even know who I am anymore.

It goes on and on.

The door to the mind and heart is most definitely a revolving door. Like the turnstile of a busy hotel or downtown office building, thoughts come and go constantly. At any age or stage in life, you can be bombarded with thoughts of anxiety, fear, doubt or even despair.

This battle of the mind can be especially hard on single men and women. And we all know too well the ambiguity that can plague the texting and social media scene: Does she like me? What did he mean by that? I think there is something more going on here. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over her. I can’t get him out of my mind. Will I ever find the right person?

But the battle for control over our thoughts can be fought — and it can be won. The first step in trying to be the boss of your thoughts is to recognize these thoughts for what they are: just thoughts.

Step 1: Capture

As in so many areas in life, awareness is key. As thoughts come and go, we usually let them run wild and wreak havoc until the pain they cause is so excruciating that we’re ultimately left with a mess in our minds and hearts.

But we have to be aware of what we let into both our heart and mind. Thoughts can be good, or bad, or neutral — and they will lead us down certain paths and in different directions. The trick is to get into the habit of actively capturing (in other words, consciously recognizing) those thoughts that take us off course, especially the ones that lead us to despair.

Step 2: Study

The next step is to take that captured thought and study it.

Ask yourself: Is it true? Does it fit with what you know about God and His calling in your life? Does it make you anxious, or does it bring you peace?

There is a spiritual battle going on in the world, and there is an enemy who tries to feed you lies. The devil is real; we don’t like to talk about him or even admit he is real, but that is playing right into his hands. By studying and observing a particular thought, we can better recognize whether it is from God, our true and loving Father, or from the father of lies.

Step 3: Send

You’ve probably heard the verse from Scripture: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).

“These things” St. Paul mentions are from God. If your thoughts are the opposite, or if they are damaging to you or to others, then those thoughts are probably not from God.

Remember to look for the lie. Look for the lie about yourself, about others, about your situation, about your future.

If the thought is from God, actively embrace it. If the thought is not from God, actively reject it and surrender it to our Lord saying, “Jesus, I offer this thought to You. It is a lie; I won’t let it settle in my mind. I send it out of my life.”

You can do this in moments of doubt, worry, temptation, impatience, anger — you name it. Wrestling with your thoughts, fears and emotions is part of being human. We are all in this together.

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us sort out our thoughts — to capturestudy, and send them where they need to go. And let’s make the commitment to be there for one another in this battle of the mind and heart. We can help each other or hurt each other, build up or tear down — and it can all begin with capturing a single thought, instead of being held captive by it.

Sarah Swafford
Sarah Swafford
Sarah Swafford is the founder of Emotional Virtue Ministries. She speaks internationally on a variety of topics including faith, relationships, and interior confidence. Engaging audiences of all ages, Sarah shares her message at school assemblies, retreats, rallies, parishes, and conferences around the world including FOCUS and Steubenville Conferences in the United States and Canada. She is the author of Emotional Virtue: A Guide to Drama-Free Relationships and cohost of EWTN’s At the Heart of Relationships. Sarah is a contributor to Chosen as well as What We Believe: The Beauty of the Catholic Faith, both published by Ascension Press. She resides in Atchison, Kansas with her wonderful husband, Dr. Andrew Swafford, and their children: Thomas, Fulton, Cate, Kolbe, and John Paul. You can find more information about Sarah and Emotional Virtue Ministries at www.theswaffords.com.

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