Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny. – Unknown
It’s true that as recently as a year ago, I didn’t really ever think much about the occasional negative thought that circulated through my head like the downward spiral of water through a toilet after its flushed.
But upon further reflection, I began to realize that those thoughts were precisely just that – waste that needed to go down the pipes with the other stuff my body just couldn’t use.
And when I started to pay attention to my thoughts, really notice where they went, I was astonished.
I wasn’t as positive and “look-on-the-bright-side”-ish as I believed myself to be.
The above quote has always been one of my favorites and as I was re-reading it, it occurred to me that the very essence of our being starts with our own thoughts.
Our thoughts become words which become actions which become habit which become character which become destiny.
Now, I’m not sure about that destiny part but I like the stuff before because I see the power in it – it’s true that my own stinkin’ thinkin’ has been the nasty culprit behind some not-so-pretty words I’ve spoken and those words have indeed led to some not-so-pretty actions.
However, when that stinkin’ thinkin’ started to become a habit, I sat up straighter in my chair and began to pay a little more attention.
As a mother of young children and the wife to a man who works a rather demanding job of long hours, I realized that my own stinkin’ thinkin’ was impacting four other lives in my home. And I’m pretty sure our dog and cat are affected, too.
Is this what I want to be known for? Is this how I want my children to remember me? Exasperated and tired and the clanging gong that is constantly telling them to put their shoes in their shoe box? Do I want them to remember my laughter or my sighs of weariness?
What message do I send my daughter about motherhood?
The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine about this very thing. “Can we really change our thoughts?,” she asked. “Isn’t that just who we are?”
My answer, of course, is yes. We can change our thoughts.
But, like anything worth getting, it’s going to take some work.
And the first place to start is recognizing where that stinkin’ thinkin’ takes root.
Before we explore these roots, let’s look at the biggest force who loves to steal, kill, and destroy: the enemy.
That sneakly little bastardo (said with a Spanish accent to disguise the mild profanity) preys on our thoughts because he’s no dummy. He knows the power of them. Especially in women.
If he can invade the thoughts of a woman, we life-givers can turn into death-givers. Nothing makes him happier.
So here are four reasons our thoughts might stink:
1. You were raised in a stinkin’ thinkin’ home: As your schemas were being molded like a ball of Play-Doh, negativity was the norm. You believed everyone thought this way and no one in your family noticed what their thoughts were capable of doing. Oftentimes, this is a generational sin that, like the Energizer bunny, just keeps going and going and going…Until someone is brave enough to step-in and stop it.
2. You’ve experienced trauma that has changed the chemical make-up of your brain. It’s true this happens – I won’t go into the studies here but suffice it to say, many researchers have found that trauma forever alters the brain. Maybe life hasn’t been so easy on you. Maybe you were betrayed or neglected or abused. Maybe you made poor choices that led to a downward spiral. Regardless, that trauma can be the perfect catalyst for the enemy to have a victory over your hardship so again, he attacks your thoughts.
3. Your roots are not in Christ. Maybe you don’t know Him yet. Maybe He has always seemed judgmental and intolerant to you and you’ve dismissed Him (which, might I add, is not Him. That’s man-made religion but that’s for another post) Instead, you place your identity in the hands of things that can easily be taken-away and, therefore, you are insecure and stand on a slippery slope of uncertainty. You’ve tried to fill that hole with things. With people. With your job. It works for a while but eventually, it’s back to the same.
4. You’re insecure. This is a partner to number three. If we aren’t solid in our foundation, we allow comparison (the ultimate joy-stealer) to creep in. This brings upon envy and jealousy and when we are jealous, the ugliest of our ugly’s are revealed.
There are other culprits, yes, but these are the “Fearless Four”. From now until Wednesday, I challenge us to either 1) write down each negative thought and try to trace back the root (did I think this because I’ve not gotten enough rest and I’m tired? Did I think this because I’m secretly jealous of her?) OR 2) think through it in your mind if you aren’t a writer. I would love to hear about what you discover on Wednesday.
What about you – what are your stinkin’ thinkin’ culprits?
that’s me – #1 & #4 here. I grew up around 2 women (mom & Gram who complained about a lot of things. Work on Monday, other family members, the way things were completed). Definitely a horrible habit to pick up. Not that I complain — but I’m more critical than I’d like to be.
praying for you and me as we journey through this arms linked together! And looking for the good rather than the bad in it all.
I hear you on that one, too, friend. One of my biggest thorns is my tendency to be critical. :( So thankful to journey with you on so much this year, girl!
I am definitly associating with #1. My family chats a lot and we would discuss everything. So we didn’t even realize it because it was “just conversation”. Now I try to be more careful. So glad to be working on this with others!
Yes, Kristi, isn’t it amazing when we really pay attention to what we think and say? Just being more aware is a step in the right direction. Thanks for reading and commenting!
Habits. So easy to make, so hard to break! There is nothing so humbling…and revealing! As seeing my not so great habits reflected in my children. They do pick up so much more than we think. I see them in my adult children and cringe. I am so thankful for His ever offered forgiveness and pray that they can overcome my weaknesses :0(. Prayed for you and yours just now! Thanks for sharing.
First of all, thank you for praying for my family, Donna! This is always such an honor to me when I hear this so again, I humbly thank you.
Secondly, yes. I cringe at some of the things I hear my kids say that I KNOW are from me. But grace. So thankful for it. He’s got them covered, too. Thankfully.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Donna!
Just shared this on FB! I think your reasons are awesome and cannot wait for this series!
I need to do this so much. Like you, I think I am all positive-thinking, but I know in my heart I am very, very critical, especially of myself. This is one exercise that is going to hurt!
You and me both, girl! Thanks for reading and commenting, sweet friend!
Ugh. I hate thinking the way that I do…and I just had this sort of convo with myself not to long ago! I find myself not being grateful, despite a myriad of reasons why I should shout my praises. Over the past year, I have seen so many things- good and bad- that remind me how blessed I am…and for some reason I always revert to my old funk. Glad I am not the only one struggling with this!
Megan, I really think it’s the society we live in. Not to deflect responsibility but it’s difficult sometimes to remember that we are so blessed when we are constantly hearing that we need “more” and should do “this” to look younger and we should “live” here.
Perspective is what I ask Him for each day.
I hate my refrigerator but I have one.
We don’t have a basement, but in a third world country, the president would live in our home.
My children are whiny and I can’t wait to get them into bed at night but they’re healthy and happy.
I need a big shot of this daily, girl.
Thanks for reading and commenting, Megan!
I have no excuse at all- none of the 4 reasons apply to me and yet I do sometimes have negative thoughts! The enemy is always prowling about and looking for our weak spots!! Patsy from HeARTworks and papemelroti
I remember well the day I “heard” my three year old mimicking me as she played dollies- and my heart felt sick. The voice was impatient, demanding, and graceless. I realized that I was passing on an exasperated spirit without wanting to. Since that day, I’ve sought change from the inside out. Gratitude has been my number one agent of change. So glad Jesus loves us too much to leave us in that stinkin’ thinkin’ pit once we beg for help. Love your post- thanks for stopping by the Overflow so I could find you here :)
Oh, girl. I’ve been convicted in the same way – I heard my own daughter being short and curt and COMPLETELY grace-less with her brothers because she’s a bit maternal with them and guess what? She learns how to be a mother by watching well…HER mother. Oops. Love that grace and mercy thing though…Great to “meet” you, Alicia! Thanks for reading and commenting!
just what this girl needed to read today. I am working on taking my thoughts captive before acting on them with my mouth. You know, when my 16 year old had a brain injury last year, (it’s been a year now) there are things about his mind that are different, sometimes it’s hard for me to ‘accept’ the change because it makes me feel like I don’t know him anymore. This is where I have to as a mother take my thoughts and shutup, go to the Father with them before I act on what I’m thinking! Great post Natalie!
Marlece, first of all, I didn’t realize your son had an accident. I apologize for this slipping by me. Secondly, I love the verse about holding every thought captive. Such a visual for me – we literally need to “catch” them!
Good to “see” you again, sister. I’ve missed your encouraging spirit!
What a fabulous post. I’ve struggled with this most of my adult life due to #1. I married a wonderful, Godly man who comes from the other side of the coin. I’m so thankful for his influence over the’stinkin’ thinkin’ that has been the salve to setting me free. So nice to meet you through SDG.
Thanks, Shelly! Don’t you love how God uses our spouses like this? I have a hubs who calls me to the mat on my stuff and while I don’t always like it, he’s forced me to grow more than any other in-the-flesh person!
Thanks for reading and commenting, Shelly!
First, I just love the phrase “stinkin’ thinkin’. It gets to the point and makes us think.
I can relate to all your points, Natalie. Each and every one of them. If I could take #3 a step further and add that even today I’ve had thoughts that aren’t rooted in Christ. I am saved by His grace and mercy, but sometimes (more than I’d like to admit) my thoughts are from the enemy himself who wants to derail me. I know you’re tracking with me because we’ve discussed this at length. Anyway….
Thank you also for your sweet and encouraging comments at Jen’s today. I really appreciate your support and encouragement along this journey. Love you :)
YES. AMEN. YES AGAIN.
You always have it, sister. Love you, too, girl.
Loved this one–wrote a similar piece for P31 called “What’s Cooking in YOUR Thought Life” (http://media.wix.com/ugd//9a7e57_8ec9fff6e60f113f339a7a5ce907a000.pdf)
I will look forward to your next several posts, because, even though I wrote about it, it doesn’t mean I’ve overcome my own stinkin’ thinkin’. “No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Hi, I followed a link here, probably from Facebook, because this is something that is near and dear to my heart so I couldn’t resist reading another post about it. I think you did an excellent job with this topic. For myself, I think that I have in the past struggled with all four of the reasons that you listed here; I continue to struggle with some things even today but God is still the one that touches human hearts and brings cleansing and renewal. That cleansing and renewal can’t but spill into our thought lives as well. It has just been the most incredible journey that my God has taken me on. :)
Oh, I do a post on Mondays where I share posts that I read the previous week that I particularly enjoyed; I hope that you won’t mind that I include a link to this one.
I’ve stumbled here searching for a change, I’ve asked God’s grace, something I never have believed I deserved, to enter me and am beginning to feel I am worth it. This is so true! I have all four! So I know I have my work cut out for me. I know that with God’s help I can do this. I am a first time mother and don’t want my daughter to grow up in the negative environment I did. This is my motivation.
Good morning. I stumbled across your blog when I was googling verses for my daughter who is 14 and left for school in a huff because I had to work and she had to go to school early. She was bogged down in how her life “shouldn’t” be this way. I struggle with her often. Perhaps it’s the age, perhaps I am unequipped to deal with her, I don’t know. However and I looked for bible verses to help me I found your blog. And I looked around. I saw you were married to an addict- I am a recovering alcoholic. I like so much this “stinkin thinkin” part and the strangest thing is you started it on the day I finally got sober, My birthday.. August 6th. I coincidence? I do not think so. I do not believe in them. I’m sure God sent me here. I don’t know why, but I’m going to stay and look around some more. Thank you :-)
Welcome, Melynda! I call those “God-instances” instead of coincidences! Congratulations on our sobriety! Keep going. It’s so worth it. You gave yourself, and everyone who loves you, the best birthday present you could have given!
I’m currently writing a book about Christian female friendships but the Stinkin’ Thinkin’ Makeover will be the next one. In the meantime, feel free to walk through the series. I would love to hear your thoughts!
Wonderful to meet you here, Melynda! Thank you for visiting!
I know 14 is hard. I still apologize to my mother for when I was 12-17 years old.