Don’t Think About It!
Have you ever been told not to think about something? Or, maybe, you’ve told yourself to stop thinking about something.
You may have done this exercise as a party game or in corporate training. “Picture an elephant.” ………… “Now stop thinking about the elephant.”
How did that work for you?
Probably not well, unless…
The Bible Tells Us How to Stop
Remember a time you were stuck in some unwanted thought. How long were you trapped? What enabled you to focus on something else?
It doesn’t work just to try to stop.
In fact, if you focus on trying to stop thinking about something in particular, you are more likely to keep remembering it.
What does work is to substitute a different thought.
Put Off. Put On.
Let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:12)
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. (Romans 13:14)
Lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:22–24)
Don’t Do It!
This principle also works for behavior. Do you want to stop doing something? Find a godly substitute and do that instead.
I wanted to stop being so angry at certain behaviors in my company I thought were outrageous. One day I read a story about how to tell a true southerner: “A true Southerner knows you don’t scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 mph on the freeway. You just say, ‘Bless her heart’ and go your own way.” I laughed, but immediately saw how to apply this to my situation. So, when I saw or heard something that made my angry, I deliberately said: “Bless her/his heart.” The thought made me laugh and provoked me to bless and not curse. (When Storms Come: Will You Be Ready? page 214.)
Apply this to yourself
What do you want to stop thinking about? What do you want to stop doing?
Plan a substitute thought or a substitute action.
Think the godly substitute.
Perform the godly substitute.
This is how to not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
Practice! Press on!
This post describes HOW to stop thinking or doing something, but is the intellectual “how.” Conceptually, this is not difficult. However, we still must learn HOW to apply this to our lives, reliably and well. Actually employing this learning takes our best effort in the power of God. We are to “labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Colossians 1:29)
Let’s press on!