Managing the Thought Life                          [Main Story]
n 2 Corinthians 10:5, it says we are “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (KJV).

“Casting down” is a vigorous action. We must learn to put down, dismantle, and disempower our “imaginations,” our distorted, ungodly thoughts. Only then will better thoughts be able to take root. Thought control can actually alter the structure of the brain, building new synaptic pathways and fortifying the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex. So smile, your brain is changing!

Here’s one helpful method: F.A.R., or Find, Argue, and Replace.

Find your distorted thoughts. Often these are unconscious, but as you calmly self-observe, you should be able to identify them (a skilled therapist can help with this). They may be “I’ll miss the deadline, lose my job, and live in poverty the rest of my life!” or, “Social interactions should always be smooth and easy. The fact that I feel shy means I’m a loser.” Don’t prematurely correct your thoughts or deny them. Just mine them out and write them down.

Argue with yourself. Not in a neurotic way, but in a constructive way. You’re holding yourself accountable for how your own thoughts affect you. You’re pointing out to yourself your own imbalances. Don’t skip this step by jumping in with premature correction. Tell yourself what you’re doing by thinking distorted thoughts. Say, for instance, “To assume that disaster and poverty will come is making a catastrophe out of a small mistake,” or, “To say you’re a loser because you feel some shyness is casting yourself in an overly negative light.”

Replace the lies with truth. This is not mere positive thinking, replacing negative thoughts with positive, as in, “It will be all right.” It’s more precise and more effective than that. Lies can be positive, negative, or both, and truth is often a mix of positive and negative. Truth, as mentioned, includes the gray areas and the nuances of the situation. Most distorted thinking is exaggerated. Truth is more precise. For instance, truth might say, “I could miss the deadline, but I’ll try not to. If I do, there will be consequences, and that will be a hassle, but I’ll probably be able to deal with them eventually,” or, “All social interactions involve a degree of awkwardness. My shy temperament makes me a little more sensitive to it, but that sensitivity can be a good thing, too.”

Use these steps regularly and eventually they will become second nature! Now go enjoy your newly structured brain and help others learn to tell themselves the truth.

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