5 Ways to Find Victory Over Anxious Thoughts and Mental Strongholds

womanlookingdownAnxiousman

*Note: Read to the end for two bonus tips.

Have you ever been incredibly happy about something—enjoying a moment, a victory, something as simple as a beautiful day—when an awful or painful thought pops through your head? And, instead of pausing and discarding such thought, you follow it, letting it lead you deeper and deeper into a dark cave until you have fallen down a rabbit hole into obsessive thoughts, fears, or panic?

And then that day or even the next few days are marred by swirling thoughts, distraction, and angst?

anxiety

I HAVE. And way too many times.

While this is common in those with anxiety, it’s something all of us are susceptible to, yet not all of us realize we can do something about it.

Disclaimer: God is legit training me in this area, so I am not claiming to know all the answers nor to have found complete victory, BUT I am determined to start walking out—moment by moment and choice by choice—freedom in my thought life.

  “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

Here are some things I have learned and am learning as God is training me to find true victory in my mind.

       “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

            —Romans 5:3–4

1. One thought at a time. One moment at a time. In recovery circles, people stand up and receive a chip when they’ve reached a certain amount of days of sobriety/freedom over a hurt, habit, or hang-up. And when asked how they got that far, many say that it was and is one choice at a time, one moment at a time, one day at a time. This is the same with a stronghold in the mind—each time we learn to take a thought captive and replace it with Truth, we are strengthening and fortifying our mind to make the next right choice.

2. Know your areas of weakness.

      “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

—1 Peter 5:8

Where are your areas of weakness? What are your insecurities and fears? Temptations? Know that when you’re hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT) or even sailing along thinking life couldn’t get any better, this is typically when the enemy strikes with an icky, painful thought that is tailored to your weakness. This is commonly termed an “enemy dart.”

3. Recognize the enemy dart. Because I know my areas of weakness and am determined to find victory in the strongholds of my mind, I am getting better at recognizing when a thought is of the enemy. But recognizing it is only one thing, because you can recognize it and still choose to entertain it, following it down the rabbit hole, OR you can do the next step and—

FieryDart

4. Replace it with Truth. After Jesus had been in the wilderness fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, THAT is when the enemy came to tempt him. And what did Jesus use to defeat the temptations and drive the devil away? The Word of God. So why wouldn’t we do the same? But this is honestly where I’ve been stuck and where I need to move TO. I am able to recognize the dark thought, the dart, but far more often than not, I just let the thought take me to a darker, more chaotic place in my mind instead of recognizing it and then rising up on the inside and speaking God’s word over the enemy dart, demolishing the stronghold and taking the thought captive to the obedience of Christ—stopping the dart in its tracks with the power of the Word of God.

Ephesians 6:17 says that the word of God is the sword of the Spirit.

BibleasSword
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

5. Pause and ask God to bring His Truth into a situation. The enemy wants nothing more than to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus wants us to have abundant life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). The other day, I found myself in one of those dark, chaotic thought places after having recognized an enemy dart but choosing to entertain it and follow it. After a night of restless sleep, I decided to make some coffee, ignore my messy apartment, and instead step outside and read my morning devotion. For at least a week now, I have been doing this at the start of each day, and this particular morning, I knew I needed to hear God’s perspective on the matter. I even cried out at one point in the middle of the night for God to calm my anxious mind and bring His perspective. Well, mercies are new in the morning, and as I sat there sipping on my hazelnut coffee and reading my Jesus Calling devotional, one verse leapt off the page, one worthy of quoting again here:

      “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

So I just sat there for a while, sipping my coffee, looking out at the fresh morning, listening to the birds sing, just letting the verse seep into my mind. And in the freshness of the morning, I felt God giving me His peace and the chance to try again. I felt Him encouraging me that if I trust Him and just take one step at a time, one choice at a time, I will find victory.

CoffeeandChair

I will admit that part of what keeps me in bondage is my struggle to pray aloud. I’ve always found it hard to not only pray aloud but even read aloud when it is just me, alone. But I know that if I can channel my inner warrior girl, my inner girl ready to find freedom and take some names, then I will find the courage and the strength to pray aloud when it’s feasible to do so. Because, quite honestly, most of the time enemy darts come when we’re alone. (Though he’s also the king of strife, so it can happen when we’re with someone with love. In that case, we can, at the very least, pause and pray for God to enter into the situation. Sometimes, you can even stop and ask the person you’re with if you can pray about the situation instead of reacting or fighting.)

But if anyone wants to say a prayer that I gain the courage to pray aloud—and soon—I will be so thankful!!!

I believe that in Christ, complete and total victory is possible.

And I pray this for you and for me!!!

Victory
Photo by Japheth on Unsplash

Here are two extras that don’t replace the method above, but they are helpful when your mind is swirling or if you’re in one of those places of overthinking or anxiety:

  • Get around good people, and get out of your head. Sometimes, you just need to get out of the house and go have some relaxation or fun with some good people. Go play some tennis or take a walk or rock out to some music—something that gets yourself out of your mind that is in loop mode.
  • Start thinking of the blessings in your life, of the “simple” things. It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the problems and worries of life, both personal and in the world. There’s a lot of bad happening, a lot of things in the natural to be worried about. BUT, there are also things like warm sunshine and purring cats or happy puppies and hazelnut coffee (or pumpkin-spice coffee!) and soft sweaters and driving around listening to your favorite songs—and chocolate. There is still so much good out there, and the enemy wants to steal our joy. But God says:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.”

—Philippians 4:8

I am not going to give up on finding freedom in my mind, even if it is a moment-by-moment taking “captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” WE WILL find healing and restoration of our minds, bodies, and spirits.

Update. Last night, I had my first “small”—yet to me not small—victory. While washing my face before bed, the enemy sent a dart, a mental image that caused me an immediate jolt of fear and panic. Normally, this would have kept me up for a long while, as I entertained the fearful thought and let it take me down a rabbit hole. But looking at the Bible verses I had posted to the bathroom mirror that spoke to my fear, I decided to pick one line from one. As I went into bed and the mental image kept popping up, I kept repeating the Bible verse each time it did. Within minutes I was asleep.

BibleasSword

One step at a time. One moment at a time.

Love you all. Have a beautiful week!!!

Catsleeping
Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash

peacefulwoman

PeaceofMind

happywoman

puppies-2646019_1920

Sailboat

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s