For years, I listened to so many condemning thoughts in my head. And 99% of these thoughts were not from outside sources, they were from me.
After years of perfecting the practice of saying and believing the lies I was telling myself, it became extremely difficult to distinguish between what was a skewed version of the truth and what honest thoughts I should be listening to.
There are 3 simple steps you can take each and every day, to finally recognize your thoughts for what they are: convicting or condemning.
There is one basic truth you need to know before beginning this exercise:
Beliefs come from your Feelings. Feelings come from your Thoughts.
It is vitally important what thoughts you allow into your mind. The good news is, YOU have control over what thoughts you listen to. One of the foundational truths I learned through counselling is that I am responsible for my thoughts. I say “Yes” or “No” to each and every thought I allow into my mind.
Not believing this truth, makes it too easy to give up and believe that you cannot change your thinking. The enemy wants you to believe this. The more you believe this, the easier it is to convince yourself that you have no control over your thoughts and feelings and that you should simply give in to the will of these thoughts and feelings.
How do you best determine if your thoughts are condemning or convicting?
STEP #1: Recognize the Emotion
Anytime you are dealing with thoughts and feelings, you HAVE to deal with the emotion first. Why is that? By their very nature, emotions can be fickle, unpredictable, and irrational. This in no way makes them bad. God gave us emotions, so we can understand and express our feelings, empathize with other people, and experience life to the fullest.
If we are going to recognize thoughts for what they are – condemning or convicting – we need to deal with and get rid of any irrational emotion first.
Step #2: Know the Difference Between Conviction & Condemnation
First, you have to know what conviction and condemnation are:
Conviction is Truth that comes from God. God’s Truth is always edifying. He will never motivate you through criticism, belittlement or guilt.
When the Holy Spirit corrects or convicts us, I like to describe it as the “get in–get out” theory. He is going to correct and discipline us and show us what we did wrong. He is going to get in and get out. He is not going to badger us or nag at us about the same thing. He is going to show us the mistake, lay it upon our heart to repent and ask for forgiveness and then He is going to expect us to move on. He will keep convicting us until we do something about it.
Condemnation is anything that does not edify or lift you up. John 10:10 describes precisely what condemnation is – anything the enemy uses to steal from you (joy, peace, hope, for example) and completely destroy you.
Step #3: Choose What You Will Do With Your Thoughts
This step, although simple, is not always easy. Often we want to hang onto certain thoughts. Especially those that we feel justified in believing, have always believed that particular thought system is the truth, or quite frankly, we feel we deserve to believe.
If you’re having a tough time taking action on this step, go back to Step #2.
Once you’ve decided it’s time to take action, the next steps are very simple.
If the thought is convicting, then you need to act on it.
If the thought is condemning, then you need to disregard it and completely reject it. Don’t allow that condemning thought to go any further, otherwise, it will begin to influence your feelings and eventually your beliefs.
Trust me when I say I have way too much experience in this area.
Tell me, have you gone through this process before? Do you practice these principles in order to determine if your thoughts are convicting or condemning?
Join me over at Choosing JOY, a Facebook group for women to encourage each other and grow together through depression and anxiety.