Pages

August 2, 2017

What To Think About Instead of That Thing You're Trying Not To Think About


You know That Thing I'm talking about, don't you? 

It's that subject, thought, problem, person, worry, or issue that's taking up mental real estate and (pre)occupying your brain. 

I'm not talking about something you genuinely need to remember or mull over or figure out or deal with or process. I'm talking about a dead-end road in the pathway of your mind. I'm talking about something you have given ENOUGH ALREADY mental attention to. 

You tell yourself to stop thinking about it, for crying out loud. Just. Stop. Get control of your thoughts and think about something else. Anything else. Except at the moment That Thing is front and center in your brain, you cannot come up with a single other thing to think about. 

A few months ago, I decided I needed a go-to, default action plan to reroute my brain away from That Thing--whatever it might be in various seasons of life--to something else. But not just anything else...I wanted something that would draw me closer to God and His power and peace. 

I started to think that gratitude was the way to go...that instead of mentally chewing on That Thing again, I should think of things I'm grateful for. But then our very creative Creator expanded the idea to include five more areas I could mentally detour to. And He kindly provided them to me in a handy mnemonic acronym (a.k.a., the tool of the memory-challenged). 

In short, God gave me a divine P.R.O.M.P.T. 

These days, when I'm tempted to think about That Thing again (for crying out loud), I try to redirect my mind toward one of these far better mental actions instead: 

Praise.

Praise God for Who He is. Praise Him for what He's like...His character and nature. Mentally list His attributes--"You are good" or "You are just" or "You are unchanging," for instance. I often tell God what His name is: Abba, Jehovah, I AM, and on and on. He already knows, of course...the telling is to remind me, because every one of God's many and varied names communicates something different and true about Who He is. Which is far better to think about than...well, you know.

Remember. 

Remember what God has done in the past. Recount His miracles and faithfulness. Rehearse the impossible situations He's worked out. I've spent plenty of time replaying That Thing in my brain; this is the time to recall what God has done before--and, because He is a consistent God, what He is likely to do again. He was good and just and kind and generous yesterday; He will be the same tomorrow. 

Offend (the enemy).

In the spiritual armor described in Ephesians 6, the sword of the Spirit--God's Word--is our only offensive weapon; all the other pieces are defensive. With the defensive pieces of armor, we fend off harm, but with the offensive sword, we can do damage. We can inflict some wounds. The enemy can't read our minds, though, so when I'm trying to offend him, I like to speak God's Word out loud. As loudly as possible. Which is why I don't usually choose the "O" of P.R.O.M.P.T. in the middle of the grocery store. (See "M," below, if you need to reroute your brain while you're in the produce section.) I favor "sharp" verses like Psalm 18:46 (capitalization mine): "THE LORD LIVES!!! PRAISE BE TO MY ROCK!!!" You've read that in texting and other written communication, using all caps is the equivalent of yelling? Well, in this case, that's exactly the point.

Meditate.

Here's where I turn a Bible verse over and over in my mind, thereby crowding out, ahem, other thoughts. I like something simple and hopeful...this is probably not the time for a mental recitation of the punishments for sin in Leviticus. I favor phrases like "Your love is better than life" (Psalm 63:3) and declarations like "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13).

Pray.

For others. For myself. Repeat indefinitely.

Thank. 

Back to the armor of God: during a fabulous Bible study I had the privilege of facilitating on this subject, I learned that gratitude is what activates the shoes of peace. That Thing I'm trying to mentally avoid is a great peace stealer, but gratitude is a great peace sealer. It's hard to think about That Thing when I'm thinking about everything I have to be thankful for. Which is exactly the point. 


Like any other new habit worth forming, training my brain to P.R.O.M.P.T. is an ongoing process and daily (hourly?) decision. But I'm determined to keep it up until this P.R.O.M.P.T. becomes my mind's go-to thought.

Do you have your own That Thing you're trying not to think so much about (for crying out loud)? I'd be thrilled to know if this P.R.O.M.P.T. makes any sense and, even better, if it helps you gain some ground in fighting the good fight. 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

I was so honored to share a condensed version of this P.R.O.M.P.T over on Of the Hearth, as part of the two-part series "Can Busy Moms Really Find Time to Spend with God?" No guilt here, just practical suggestions for finding God-time right in the middle of your crazy life.



This post may have been shared at some of these blog link parties.

36 comments:

  1. What I love about this is that you say to redirect over to ONE of the things. I have a hard time with a long list, as in over ONE thing to do. I might even slightly panic over the whole idea of yet another to-do thing even when it's be that I do. So, thank you for making it easier for your older friends. Pinned on lots of boards only bec I have this cool thing called Tailwind. which is over Sept 1. I m not paying for another year, I'm afraid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thank you, my friend. YES to one thing! I jump around with this PROMPT, depending on what seems to work at the moment I need to NOT think about That Thing. Thanks for the pins...you're a doll, Lady Donaldson. xoxo

      Delete
  2. Thanks, Elizabeth, for this very practical push toward "taking every thought captive."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Michele, for your faithful encouragement and feedback. May God PROMPT your mind--and mine!--toward Himself, today and always!

      Delete
  3. I've put into practice PRMPT but not O - offend! Thank you for sharing and offering this encouragement for the times I allow my thoughts to distract me. Honestly, I never thought of "offending" the enemy in this way. I look forward to implementing PROMPT!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Robin, you are at least five steps ahead of me...which is AWESOME!:) And honestly, the "O" came from two things: 1)at the time God gave me PROMPT, I was in the thick of a Bible study on the armor of God, and we were learning about the "offensive" sword; and 2)God knew that with my OCDish ways, if I didn't have a whole, actual word, I'd get hung up thinking "per-m-p-t." Which is not exactly the kind of "other thing" I want to use to divert my brain away from "that thing"! ;) Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your encouraging feedback!

      Delete
  4. Hi there.....would LOVE to have you share your PROMPT tactic over at Reader Tip Tuesday: http://www.jodiefitz.com/2017/08/08/reader-tip-tuesday-food-craft-party/
    It's open all week and growing (only week 2). Hope to see you & your words of encouragement at the party...xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thank you so much for the sweet invitation, Jodie! I will head over there right now! Bless you!

      Delete
  5. Great suggestions here!! So important to replace those negative thoughts with something actionable and godly!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nicole! "...something actionable and godly"--I love it! Yes! Because I can't just tell myself not to think about "that thing." My brain is going to go somewhere, so it might as well go somewhere good. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  6. Found this through Salt and Light and it is exactly what I am struggling with this week. Thank you for such practical advice and a mnemonic to help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Vickie, I so appreciate your kind feedback and your honest sharing. I wrote this post out of my own struggle...it truly is so real, isn't it? And I'm glad the mnemonic works for you, too! :) I had to have it, or I'd always be trying to remember what it was I was supposed to be thinking about. ;) (Oh, the irony.)

      Delete
  7. This is such a practical tactic to be effective in taking my thoughts captive. So glad to have stopped here this morning. I think this is my first time here so may I also say, "Nice to meet you!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joanne, it's so nice to "meet" you as well! I'm so glad you stopped by and that my little "PROMPT" made sense in a practical way. Thank you so much!

      Delete
  8. Elizabeth, this is a fabulous idea. As someone who tends to analyze things to death, I need this Bible-based advice. Sharing on Pinterest!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my word, Sarah, yes and a thousand amens to analyzing things to death. Let's just say I have a bit of experience with that myself. ;) Which is why I needed a go-to, default mental action plan. I needed to give my brain somewhere else to go without allowing it too much freedom. P.R.O.M.P.T. me, Lord! :)Thanks so much for your encouragement!

      Delete
  9. I love this idea! P.R.O.M.P.T is something I'm going to try next time my mind starts to go where I don't want it to. Thank you for sharing with Grace and Truth last week. I would love to feature this post tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness, thank you so much, Dawn! I would be so honored. Truly, I'm glad I shared about this P.R.O.M.P.T. in an "official" post, because ever since I did, I've been preaching to myself, "Practice what you post!" It's keeping me honest! ;) Bless you, and thank you!

      Delete
  10. I struggle with anxiety so I have alwasy tried to find ways to renew my mind. I love your blog name by the way

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Alyssa, I feel for you in that struggle! But I love that you have approached it with the tactic of renewing your mind. You have perfectly summarized what this PROMPT is about. And thank you for your comment about my blog name! ;) It seems right for me somehow! :) Thanks so much for stopping by...God bless you.

      Delete
  11. Love this and especially love the names of God part -- I don't know if you saw my review of the children's devotional "I Am" or not a few months ago (it's okay if you didn't), but Gv and I have been going through it each day because even if she isn't totally getting the whole concept yet, *I am* (did you see what I just did there?) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, sweet friend! And THANK YOU for reminding me about that incredible devotional. I know I saved the link when I saw it, because I love to study the names of God, and this looks like a brilliant way to do it, for children of all ages. I am totally ordering it through your link. Also: you = so "clevah"!! xoxo

      Delete
  12. Great suggestions! Being thankful is the one that usually helps me get the crazy stuff off my mind. When I'm thanking God for all He has done for me, there is no room left for crazy-talk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right, Christa! I think that's why "thank" was the initial inspiration for this whole PROMPT. I LOVE how you said it leaves no room for the "crazy talk." That is SO what I need!! Thank you for stopping by and leaving your thoughtful feedback!

      Delete
  13. I love this, Elizabeth. I struggle with getting "that thing" off of my mind and this is so helpful. Mnemonic devices are awesome!
    The fact that this approach works because it surrenders "that thing" to God and gets our focus on Him is even more awesome! Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Shannon! Between my age and hormonal influence on my brain and chronic sleep deprivation, I practically need a mnemonic for my own name these days. ;) Thank you so much for giving me a place to "test drive" this PROMPT on your wonderful site. Bless you!

      Delete
  14. GREAT advice! Thanks for sharing at Reader Tip Tuesday last week. Hoping you join us for this week's party: http://www.jodiefitz.com/2017/08/15/reader-tip-tuesday-craft-recipe-party/ xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Jodie! I'm on vacation with my family this week, so I'm scaling back my blog-related activities in favor of increased ice cream-eating activities, but I look forward to returning to your wonderful party once I get back to "real" life! :) Thank you so much for being such a gracious hostess!

      Delete
  15. Our church just had a sermon about this earlier this year. I agree that it is a work in progress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes!! In progress and progress and progress, God help me. Thanks so much for taking time to read and respond!

      Delete
  16. This is such a wonderful post and I know you're going to help a lot of people with it. Thanks for linking it up to #fridayfrivolity! XX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thank you! It would truly be my great honor and privilege if this PROMPT really did help someone other than myself! ;) Thank you for hosting the fabulous #FridayFrivolity!

      Delete
  17. Offending Satan?! Um, yes! Can't wait to try that one :) Sometimes I also sing (to myself or aloud) a hymn or worship song. Also, this might be part of remembering, but i like to practice summarizing amazing work He's done so I can be ready to share with others (i.e. my testimony, answered prayers, walking through struggles, etc). That takes a lot of focus! Enjoyed this post so much. Iron sharpens iron!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bless your heart, McMom! (Love that name, by the way!) The "O" is one of my favorites, too. ;) And yes, yes, yes to singing! I do that, too, and it is, as you've pointed out, a powerful tool for redirecting my mind. I'm so glad you added it. And I LOVE your wisdom of "summarizing amazing work He's done" in preparation for sharing...being "always ready" to testify to the hope you have, yes? Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing all your wisdom here. You've made my day. :)

      Delete
  18. Thank you so much for writing this post. Right now my "thing" is facing breast cancer with my three girls 7, 3, and 1. This will really help me not focus on that "thing". I really need to retrain my thought life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness. I am so, so sorry for this battle you are fighting. I can't begin to imagine how hard it must be to think about anything else. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your story with me. I will use that last "P" of this P.R.O.M.P.T. to pray to Yahweh-rapha--God Who heals--for YOU.

      Delete

I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!