What to do when your thoughts are out of control

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, just when I’m about to go to sleep, my mind plays back the less-than-stellar moments of my day, and I have thoughts like these:

  • “Wow, what I said earlier sounded pretty stupid.”
  • “I should’ve said that. I can’t believe I forgot to say that.”
  • “Did I offend her?”
  • “I don’t think he understood what I was trying to say.”
  • “Did they think I was showing off?”
  • “I didn’t do enough. I could’ve done more.”
  • “I feel like an idiot.”
  • “I am a poor excuse for a friend.”
  • “I’m never going to learn this lesson.”

And then I start obsessing over these thoughts. I think about sending text messages to apologize to people or to make clarifications or to defend myself. In other words, I think about how to fix my mistakes.

Sometimes, these thoughts do have some truth behind them. In fact, sometimes, I really DO feel convicted about something that I did and I really do need to apologize to someone. But other times, especially when the thoughts are FLOODING in, I need to remember to just stop and breathe and ask myself what’s really behind the thoughts.

More often than not, it’s all in my head. What really happens is that I’m imagining things, making assumptions, and letting unfounded messages beat me down.

What I’ve learned to do is to just put my knee-jerk reactions aside and ask God to help me out. I tell Him what’s bugging me, and I ask Him to show me what’s really going on. Maybe my pride is getting in the way, maybe it’s the fear of rejection, maybe it’s a need for acceptance and validation, or maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever it is, I acknowledge it….then I take it to Him.

Admittedly, it’s easier said than done, and I even have trouble following my advice. But that’s what I try to do. Because if I don’t, those thoughts will eat me alive, and quite possibly–out of anxiety and desperation–lead me to say or do things that I might regret later. Sometimes He gently offers an answer as to what I ought to do, but most of the time, He simply offers His comfort and peace. And I’ve found, that’s more than enough to get me through the night…and thankfully, the days that follow, too.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  – Matthew 11:28-29

If you haven’t tried it, would you give it a try?

Can you relate? Are there thoughts that bug you, too

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2 responses to “What to do when your thoughts are out of control

  1. My problem is that I have too many thoughts just like that, more so when my life is tangled in “situations,” and then that’s when inner panic starts. But you know, what I’ve learned is that reading the Bible actually calms me down. So yes, it’s true that when you cast your cares to God He gives you peace and calm. :) Have a good day, Liz!

    • Oh yes! “inner panic”—you nailed it on the head! I’m just relieved to know that it doesn’t just happen to me. And you’re right…God’s word is so calming that way! :)

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