Seven ways to break from obsessional thoughts
I learned a valuable lesson one day: never spit when you’ve got a two-year old on your shoulders.
I don’t want to shock the ladies in my audience but men spit, scratch and burp when their mothers and their wives aren’t around to tell them to stop. It is a guy thing. (Sometimes their younger daughters spit and burp along with them, but, only when mama’s not there.If you want to get into the doghouse, sir, just encourage your little girl to burp when mama is there).
One day I went for a walk, carrying one of my grandkids on my shoulders, I think it was my sweet Briana, when she was about two. Somewhere during the walk I spit. Then I heard a noise above me as the little one tried to work up her saliva to imitate me.
I’m aware that spitting is a habit you have to develop to do it well, and when I heard that noise I had a good idea where the spit would land! “No sweetheart! No … uh. Yuk!”
Even Stranger Sounds
As much as I hate to hear menacing sounds like that over my head, there are strange sounds that sometimes come from inside my head that bother me even more. We talked a couple of weeks ago about how to get rid of a thought that just won’t let go (You remember the horseflies, don’t you?) What do you do when you can’t stop thinking about something that makes you mad, or scared, or lustful, or frustrated or—well, the list is long.
I asked your response to this question and many of you came back with some great ideas. I put them on my website so you could read them in their entirety (https://davidscoffeestains.com/talk-back).
How do we defeat thoughts that become obsessions, which dominate us? Here are some ideas; some come from me, some were your responses.
1. Go get some sleep. Body, soul and spirit are intimately weaved together. Sometimes a mind problem is a body problem or a spiritual problem. One reader said that when she can’t sleep because of obsessive thoughts, she gets up and makes herself a cup of hot chocolate with honey. Not a bad idea, even if it doesn’t chase the thoughts.
2. Go somewhere. Do something else. Find something to think about other than the thing (or person) that’s bugging you. Get a hobby.
3. God’s Word, singing, prayer. Use your spiritual weapons. This is often a spiritual battle and you can’t win it without using the arms that God provided you. Put His Word in your mind and heart by reading the Bible. Fill your mouth with praise and prayer. Sing. I know your singing sounds awful, but God doesn’t mind and maybe you’ll sing so badly that the devil will cover his ears and run away (I just made that last part up. Did you notice?) Singing your praise from a sincere heart is powerful. Speaking your faith based on God’s Word can be earth-shaking. Right-hearted praying changes what needs to be changed.
4. One reader says, “My way to deal with negative ideas is to try to find a POSITIVE to take its place.” If you try to empty your head, something will come back to fill it (for most people. For some of us “empty-headedness” is a perpetual state). Be positive on purpose.
5. Talk about it with the person that’s causing the pain if you can, if it’s the time and if you can really do it in love. Speak with respect. Keep your voice calm and don’t attack. Just share how you feel. And try to identify your part of the problem, because we almost always contribute to these frustrating situations. It’s easier to lay all the blame elsewhere than it is to change what we can.
6. It’s a fight! Keep after it. It may hurt. If you get popped on the noggin, get up and give it back (to the devil, not the person next to you). One of my old bosses used to say, “You’re going to make it. You won’t look like much when you get there but you’re going to make it.” That was basically his life theme. His mother was raising her children alone and she finally had to call for the orphanage to come get this child because she just couldn’t do it anymore. When they tried to take little Charles he set up such a sad wail that his mother told them to leave him. “We’re going to make it, ” she said. She did and he did all his life. And you’ll get through this, too, it you don’t quit and you fight back.
7. The power of God. Sometimes (everytime?), we simply need God to reach down and cut us lose from these obsessive ideas and passions that bind us. A French friend, Didier, shared this with me:
“There was a time when I was working (he’s retired) when the things which had happened during the day or the days before would come back to me in dreams, but greatly exaggerated. They were real nightmares which woke me up. One day I realized that these dreams were attacks of the enemy to try to hurt me and destabilize me.
“Once I woke up in the middle of a nightmare and I cried out to God. My peace slowly came back and I was able to sleep again. Since then, I present my night to the Lord before I go to sleep so that He’ll give the peace and rest I need.
“But, when this was happening I realized (or the Lord showed me by his grace) that I must walk and act more in his presence during the day, than I was doing. From then on I made fewer errors and I had fewer problems.
“The Lord also showed me that I should act better towards those who were around me. I understood that he was chiding me for the way I was being and acting. Since then my walk with the Lord has become a real blessing and my nights … full of His peace.
You don’t have to be a prisoner of your thoughts. You can break loose. Cry out, “Lord, help me!”
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:4, 5, NIV)
“God prospers me not to raise my standard of living but to raise my standard of giving.”. Randy Alcorn