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Less stress, better productivity and overall better health are just a few of the life- enriching consequences of effectively managing our thoughts.

But is it really that easy? I can be a somewhat  impulsive person, thus making it very challenging to take my thoughts captive and think before I react.

There are so many people out there who are forced to make decisions based on their circumstances, and I can’t help but wonder if it is always easy. What are the things or circumstances that you are currently facing because you can’t get your thoughts focused?

My parents got divorced 20 years ago and I can clearly remember the emotions I went through, mostly anger and hurt, asking myself “How could they do this to me?”

12 years ago Jimmy and I also went through very deep and troubled waters in our marriage and I just felt so cheated. Other people’s decisions and choices played such a huge role in my own life. How I felt, what impact they had on my thoughts, what I needed to do to deal with my emotions, all a result of them. All I wanted to do in my anger was vent and defend myself. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that this was not what I signed up for. All these overflowing emotions of anger and hurt in my head, because I was deprived of the life I deserved. This was something that had the power to control my whole being.

I would like to share some pointers with you about how to manage your thoughts and get out of the downward spiral of emotions.

My mentor Jannie Botha explained it so well. Our thoughts are like a mine shaft, and we should use the analogy to change our thought patterns. I remember how unfair it felt that I should be the one to change because of other people’s choices. Jannie likened it to moving to London from South Africa. You can’t think and live in the rand mentality when everything around you is valued in pounds. You must change! Well, that is easier said than done, isn’t it?

Let’s take a step back:

Management vs Control:

It is: “I am who I am, I was born like this and even though I feel it’s unfair, it is what it is” versus “ I am going to give myself space and grace to think about this, get all the facts on the table and then wrap my thoughts around this.”

Balance vs Emotions and Thoughts:

Make the decision and then the emotions will follow. Every day should be a new decision to make the right choices, and that should dictate your thoughts and emotions.

YOUR reality and  truth vs THE reality and truth:

Your emotions and thoughts are real and they are fair in the moment and maybe for a day or two after, but then you should ask yourself if it is YOUR truth vs THE truth. Write it down, and look at it on paper as this should give you some perspective before you react.

Here are some guidelines to effectively manage your thoughts.

  1. Practise Self-Awareness: self-awareness involves being present in the moment and observing your thoughts without judgment. This can help you gain a better understanding of your thought patterns and reduce the impact of negative thoughts.
  • Identify your TRIGGERS: Certain situations, people, or events can trigger negative thoughts. Try to identify these and avoid them if possible or develop strategies to deal with them effectively.
  • Challenge negative thoughts: When negative thoughts arise, challenge them with positive affirmations or evidence to the contrary. It can help you reframe your thoughts and view things in a more positive light.
  • Write it down: Diary entries can be a useful tool to manage your thoughts. By writing down your thoughts and feelings you can gain perspective, process emotions, and identify patterns in your thinking.
  • Exercise relaxation techniques: Activities that help you relax and reduce stress, such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises or listening to calming music can be very beneficial to the process.
  • Seek professional help: If you are struggling to manage your thoughts, it may be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional who can provide guidance and support.

I hope this helps us all to change our thoughts and manage them more effectively. The AMPC’s version of Romans 12:2 sums it up so beautifully:

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), {fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs}, but be transformed (changed) by the {entire} renewal of your mind {by its new ideals and its new attitude}, so that you may prove {for yourself what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect {in His sight for you}.

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