Taking Thoughts Captive

I think a lot.

Like, if there was an olympic sport for overthinking, the organisers would have to create a new type of medal for me, because Gold would not be appreciative enough of my abilities when I come first. Lol. In fact, When I win whatever medal they give me, I would be the flag hoisted up high (because that podium no fit do me) while a personalized national anthem would be played for me (and I would flap dramatically in the wind like a flag) because the olympic officials would marvel at how good I am at overthinking…honestly, I marvel at my imagination sometimes too.

SO while I have found that my overthinking could be a blessing in a way, in the sense that my crazy imagination can run wild and keep me company on days where I do not particularly crave human company (on such days, I laugh out loud at some of the things I think, so much that I am sure my neighbours think I am crazy) and also serves as a filter through which I can pass ideas, plans and decisions, I have found that it could be a huge problem because, well, no one wants their thoughts to run too fast that they cannot control them or keep them up at night. Plus, no one wants to remain stagnant because they are constantly over-analyzing, overthinking and not taking any action.

Overthinking and Over-analyzing

If you are like me and you suffer from overthinkingporosis, then you know that while sometimes, you could take pride in your ability to analyse situations to the point where you take the right decisions, you could also be subject to analysis paralysis where you find yourself analysing situations, decisions and plans to the point where you are stagnant and cannot make a move.

For me, I am learning to have a find a healthy balance with my thoughts and in analysing situations so that I do not find myself in a rut where I can neither go forward or backward. I am therefore attempting to take risks, take decisions, try new things out to see how they go first instead of overthinking and analysing.

“Do not let perfect be the enemy of good. Do not let good be the enemy of done.”

ANTs

The thing with overthinking is that when you think alot, you are automatically more subject to an infestation of negative thoughts in your mind than the average thinker. These Automated Negative Thoughts (or ANTs as they are often called) always have a way of silently creeping up and invading your mind to the point where all that you think and are consumed by are negative thoughts.

“ANTs are cynical, gloomy, and complaining thoughts that just seem to keep coming all by themselves.
ANTs can cause people to be depressed and fatalistic, which have a profound impact on their lives. “I know I won’t pass that test on Tuesday.” This kind of thinking makes for a self-fulfilling prophecy: if they’ve already convinced themselves they won’t pass, they won’t study very hard and they won’t pass the test.

This type of thinking severely limits a person’s ability to enjoy his or her life because how one thinks on a moment-to-moment basis plays a large role in how one feels and how one conducts one’s affairs. If you are depressed all the time, you don’t expect good things to happen so you don’t try very hard to make them happen. The internal distress from melancholy thinking can make you behave in ways that alienate others, thus causing you to isolate yourself further.

On the other hand, positive thoughts and a positive attitude will help you radiate a sense of well being, making it easier for others to connect with you. Positive thoughts will also help you be more effective in your life. So, as you can see, what goes on in your mind all day long can determine whether your behavior is self-defeating or self-promoting.”

~Daniel G. Amen, MD

To get rid of these ANTs when they creep up, the first step is to identify that they are negative thoughts and that they are false. Once you have done that, you can then replace them with positive ones, the truth. The danger, however, is where you find yourself believing these negative thoughts as the truth. But, they are not true!

Some of the most common “species” of ANTs are:

  1. “Always” thinking: thinking in words like always, never, no one, every one, every time, everything. You get something wrong one time and then you go “I always fail” or “I always get it wrong” or “No one loves me” or “Everyone hates me”.
  2. Focusing on the negative: only seeing the bad in a situation.
  3. Thinking with your feelings: believing negative feelings without ever questioning them.
  4. Guilt beatings: thinking in words like “should, must, ought or have to.”
  5. Labeling: attaching a negative label to yourself or to someone else like “stupid”, “dumb” and “failure”
  6. Personalization: innocuous events are taken to have personal meaning.
  7. Mind reading (RED ANT): believing that you know what another person is thinking, even though they haven’t told you.
  8. Fortune telling (RED ANT): predicting the worst possible outcome to a situation.
  9. Blame (RED ANT): blaming someone else for your own problems

The RED ANTS ( as the name implies) are like those ants that, when they bite, go so deep you feel it in your soul, that you begin to question your purpose in life while trying not to cry like a baby. But, these are all negative thoughts that can ruin you from the inside out if you allow yourself to continuously dwell on them.

BUT…you can regulate these thoughts. You can replace them with positive thoughts and you can get rid of them altogether! Trust me, I will be the first to admit that this is not the easiest thing in the world. In fact, it’s hard. In fact, it’s super hard, especially if you are like me and sometimes, your thoughts run too fast and before you know it, you’re already entrenched in negative thoughts. BUT it is possible to take these thoughts captive.

“You can train your thoughts to be positive and hopeful or you can just allow them to be negative and upset you. Once you learn about your thoughts, you can chose to think good thoughts and feel good or you can choose to think bad thoughts and feel lousy. That’s right, it’s up to you! You can learn how to change your thoughts and you can learn to change the way you feel.

Briefly, some ways I currently am learning to take my thoughts captive, especially negative thoughts that try to creep up are:

Repetition/Affirmations: This means consciously repeating positive words to yourself to replace the negative thoughts even though you do not feel like saying them or even if at that particular moment, you do not believe it. I have tried it and it works. Even when I am moody, I tell myself “I am happy. I am loved. I am special” I keep repeating same. In crisis situations, I go “I am calm, I am calm” and over time, you find that it sticks and.. this has been proven by science, your brain releases chemicals that make you believe these words and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

So when a negative thought pops up, I try (and I have been tryyyinnnngggg…it is tough, but I made a decision to at least, try) to counter it with a positive one. I set it up against the truth; against God’s truth. And sometimes, I ask myself “this thing I am saying about myself, is it true?” “Is this what God thinks about me?” “Does God really see me as a failure, or as dumb, or as stupid?”

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 New International Version (NIV)

When faced with seemingly difficult tasks, I remind myself of previous tasks that I have overcome. I tell myself “I can do it” , “I can do it” even though I am shaking on the inside from fear or my heart is beating wildly. I tell myself “I can do all things”. Granted, sometimes, it is easier said than done, but hey, how would you know unless you tried? You say it over and over again until you believe it.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”

~Phil 4:13


One way to learn how to change your thoughts is to notice them when they are negative and talk back to them. If you can correct negative thoughts, you take away their power over you. When you just think a negative thought without challenging it, your mind believes it and your body reacts to it.”

~Daniel G. Amen, MD

Practicing gratitude: By doing this, you remind your self daily and with each moment of all your blessings; things you have that you take for granted, yet people would give anything to have. You remind yourself of the ways that God has come through for you in tough situations. You practice gratitude and you list out the things you are thankful for and you find that you feel better about what lies ahead.

Go easy on yourself : I talk about this a lot on my Instagram because I know that I am quite hard on myself. No, full disclosure, I can be really really hard on myself. I have been told by some very few people close to me and I am now consciously making an effort to go easy on myself and give myself some credit.

If you are your own worst critic, remember to relax and go easy on yourself. You did not come this far by accident, so you must be doing something right. And if you’re reading this thinking “But I haven’t even come far and have nothing going good for me right now” then re-read the point above.

Only the living can complain about how bad things are going.

Just go for it

If you are currently plagued with analysis paralysis and/or overthinking a decision you are about to take and have stalled for the longest moment, hesitate no longer! Just go for it! you can do it! You know those negative thoughts you are currently having about failure right now? The negative what-ifs? They would most likely not come to pass. BUT HOW WOULD YOU KNOW UNLESS YOU GO FOR IT?

I do not know who needed to read this today, but remember that once you start replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts, you will start having positive results. If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.

Change your thoughts, change your world.

“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.”― Marcus Aurelius

14 thoughts on “Taking Thoughts Captive

  1. This post from the first word to the last is apt and meet my need in good degree. Really our thoughts determines our reflections and approach to life at different times. The writer in an objective and solemn manner shared within the lines practical experience of the effects of overthinking. It’s a good piece, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great piece rachy.. i think my own super powers have to be over worrying about any and everything and sometimes not accomplishing anything at the end of the day. It’s truly hard having to let go of negative thoughts especially when like me, you do an exam and you’ve failed twice and it’s like “wow I thought I had it that last time”. However I’m trying to take it easy on myself rather than regard myself as dumb and all that.. I’m consciously giving myself credit and watching what I proclaim to myself. Thank you for this and I hope to imbibe everything you said. (Sorry my comment is long)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Yemi! I am super encouraged that you’re consciously giving yourself credit and watching what you proclaim to yourself because it is so so important, We are what we think. You are amazing. Keep believing that.

      Like

  3. Relatable and that’s rather sad in the first instance. It’s encouraging in the second instance in that it proffers solutions.

    Hopefully, the suggested solutions would be applied without overthinking. It can be a tough rut to get out of.

    Great piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow!!! I always didn’t make out time to read ur blog post, but girl!! Today that I did, it’s safe to say I now see things even more differently about life in general, no wonder the bible said ” we should RESIST the DEVIL and he will in turn FLEE!!”, That’s ANT squashed in one sentence. No wonder the bible said that ” out of ignorance my people perish”……. Really we all need to UNLEARN the things we were TAUGHT so we can LEARN the thing we WERENT TAUGHT. Rechy!! may the almighty add more fire to ur already burning fire becos u might not know who ur posts will inspire to aspire to do better. I’m glad I’ve eaten from the same plate with u and I’m glad to call you my FRIEND. Bless u!

    Liked by 1 person

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