I have a friend who is mostly miserable. At least his mood or temperament is one of low-grade discontent. I must be careful when I am around him lest he infect me. I like him–I really do, but I want to shout, “Enough already, let’s hear some cheer!”
I have watched him, trying to figure out where all this negativism is coming from. His life is good, not wonderful in some areas, but he has good things going on in his life. That is the case with most of us, just life happening. So where is the root of this discontent?
I believe the problem is that he lets his thought life run rampant like a rebellious child with no discipline. He will tell me about a problem, and how it is effecting him. I will counter with possible ways to look at the situation or to improve it. The next sentence from him is, “But that wouldn’t work,” as he proceeds to tell me why it wouldn’t work. After such exchanges for several hours, I want to pull my hair out (or his). I can feel my temperature rising, and must control myself to stay compassionate and “unhooked.”
Is it possible to control our thoughts, and if so, how? First, I think a person must become aware of their content.
Is this a valid concern, or am I reacting in fear: (My car won’t start.) “I always have to drive these clunkers. I’ll never get anything decent.” or “It might just be the battery cables. I can check that out easily enough.”
Is it realistic? “I know this won’t work. It can’t be done.” or “I’ve found in the past that I could accomplish those tasks in spite of disbelief in my skills.” or “Maybe I can get help from someone who knows how (and watch how they do it.)”
What’s behind the thought attitude? Some people actually believe they were predestined to be failures. “I’m not worthy, and will never amount to much. I just accept that fact as part of who I am.” or “I was created special and unique. I am a child of God and He don’t make junk.” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…”
Is there an unresolved issue eating at me? Some people lash out in anger or rebellion. “I’m tired of everyone expecting too much from me. I don’t have to conform to expectations.” “I want to do it my way.” or “Let’s get this job done. How can I help?” (If my friend would take this latter attitude, I would fall over in joy.)
Second, where do our thought come from? Most of them come from our reasoning. Some are reactions or habits we learned in childhood that just pop up unbidden. And some of you will be shocked that many thoughts come from Satan. Oh, he’s sneaky. He uses first person grammar to trick us into believing it was our thought. Some people believe the mind is a closed unit accessible only to us, but studies in telepathy and spirituality show us differently. But that’s another blog. As a person grows to know themselves, the word of God, and the slime of Satan, they can rightly place a thought in its proper category. Just remember the four questions in their negative context above are grounded in lies attacking our very souls. And we know who the author of lies is and his purpose to destroy us, if possible.
I have become very sensitive to my thoughts and to comments of those around me. I am brought up short at how often they allow discontent and anger to direct their words. And I know Satan uses them to attack me where he can no longer directly do so. It makes me angry that my loved ones would so unknowingly ambush me. (I also wonder what it’s like to live with that unhappiness in their minds.) And then I remember the strongest voice of all in my head, “You are loved. You are My child, beautifully and wonderfully made, and I want the best for you. Come walk with Me…you will enjoy the journey.” And I forgive as I have been forgiven.
Yes, it’s possible to change one’s thoughts. Just catch them, look them over, and put the truth to them. It will be slow at first, but the rewards will rapidly multiple for oneself and those around us.