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?