I’ve been struggling with an overactive mind recently. Well, recently isn’t totally accurate because honestly, it’s been a lifelong struggle. But some times are worse than others and recently it’s been more of a battle.
Take for instance, flu season. About a month ago, I read a couple of horrible stories of children dying from the flu and I started feeling myself stress out about the what-ifs with my own family. I could feel myself going into overdrive to protect them from the flu. We were washing hands like crazy, putting hand sanitizer on when we got in the car, taking every vitamin I could think of, trying to get to bed early…you name it, I was on it.
And then one day, I noticed my oldest was acting uncharacteristically lethargic. And the panic began to rise in my mind. Oh my gosh, she has the flu. And then my next thought: What if she doesn’t recover from this? I hopped on the crazy train faster than I realized what was happening. The train left the building and my thoughts careened down the tracks to Irrational Land.
As my daughter’s fever spiked to 103, I realized I had a choice. I could be on-edge every day praying she would recover, or I could choose to grab these thoughts that were stealing my joy and redirect them.
I wouldn’t say I did an amazing job of guarding my thoughts during my girls’ week-long sickness but now that we made it through the virus and my girls are back to school, I’ve had some time to think about it.
I’ve traveled to Irrational Land many times in my life, and even more times as a mother. (Case in point: http://textingthetruth.com/2017/03/finding-peace-in-panic/) I can take a seemingly innocent situation and go to the worst-scenario amazingly fast. Some days I’m much better at catching my thoughts than others.
But what I am learning is I have to interrupt my thoughts before they start heading down the tracks. I’m learning that talking to myself harshly about my crazy thoughts never works. Instead, I’m trying to gently talk to myself like I would talk to my daughter when she is struggling.
Instead of saying to myself, “You are so crazy. Stop having such dumb thoughts,” I’m trying to be a lot more gentle. Something like, “I know it’s scary that she has the flu and you can’t control what will happen. What can you do right now?”
I’m learning to be gentle with myself and interrupt my fear-filled thoughts with truth. I take great comfort that David did this in the Bible too. In Psalm 42, he says, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me therefore I will remember you…” (Psalm 42:5,6) and he goes on to remember the ways God has met him in the past.
When I am struggling with anxious thoughts, interrupting them, and remembering the way God has provided for me in the past helps me slow the worry train down.
Anna and Laura talked about their anxious-thought-cycle in our Monday post as well. (Link in profile.) It was so good for me to read it again and remind myself of so much good truth about what to do when the thought train starts chugging along.
I’d love to hear from you. What helps you when your worry thoughts start to take over?
What if today instead of letting our irrational thoughts steal our joy, we turn our thoughts back to God and put our hope in Him just like Psalms 42 says?
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