05 May Get a Checkup by Andrea Graff
As a writer and an artist, the majority of my time is spent thinking creatively, which is basically letting my mind run wild. This works well when I’m in the office or in a songwriting session, but when it comes to everyday life, it can be a bit of a problem. In talking to my friends, I’ve found I’m not the only one who struggles with this. The truth is that it’s hard to control your thoughts… to discipline your mind to think about what you’re thinking about.
Growing up, when I would allow fear or worry to take over, my mom would just smile and say, “Ange, it’s time for a checkup from the neck up.” That cheesy line used to make me so upset. I’d think, This is serious! It is not something to laugh about! But, I knew she was right. And so, I would do my “check up.” Here’s what that means: I would stop and trace my negative feelings back to one thought. And that one thought usually was something I had imagined or made into something bigger than it was. Then, I’d interrupt that thought with something I’d speak.
Let me give you an example. The other day, I felt frustrated and it was putting me in a bad mood. So I did my check up. I remembered that earlier that day, someone I didn’t even know had commented something hurtful on a post of mine. They had no idea what they were talking about. They didn’t even know me. But I let my mind run wild with it.
“No one is going to like what I do.”
“Everyone thinks I am doing the wrong thing.”
“I always work so hard for no reason.”
(By the way— key words that prove these aren’t healthy thoughts: no one, everyone and always.) Once I recognized my thoughts, I was able to replace them. I said out loud as I was driving,
“I have a purpose that no one can get in the way of.”
“God has given me gifts to match that.”
“Not everyone will understand, but they don’t have to.”
I’m not kidding, y’all. I immediately feel better every time. Thoughts matter. Sure, I’m still learning how to tame mine. It’s an every day battle. But as I do, I find that my life becomes much more enjoyable.
Philippians 4:8 says, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
When we start thinking about what’s true, there’s no room for false. When we think about what’s noble, there’s no space for impurity. When we think about what’s right, there’s no room for what’s wrong. Get it? We can literally make ourselves believe anything. It’s why we see so many people struggling with eating disorders, self-harm and thoughts of suicide. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can make ourselves believe good things about ourselves, our lives and our futures.
Today, let’s make an effort to think about what we’re thinking about. Because its our thoughts that direct our words, our words that direct our actions, and our actions that decide our life.