Words of LIFE - Weekly Devotional
Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions
with Dr. Caroline Leaf
"We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5b)
How many times have you replayed a conversation in your head until it stirred emotional pain or stress in your life? Did you know that stress is the reaction your body has to your thoughts?
Researchers say that 87% of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. What we think affects us physically and emotionally. We are in an epidemic of toxic emotions and that is why I teach people about the anatomy of thought in my book Who Switched off My Brain?
Your brain speaks to your body and your body speaks to your brain. The mind-body link is an ongoing symphony of chemicals playing through your body 24 hours a day. And the way in which we think will affect the functioning of that whole electrical-chemical cycle.
God has built an incredible mechanism into our brain that gives us the free will to accept or reject information. We have the option to reject negative information from our thoughts before it gets the support of damaging attitudes and emotions.
There are two groups of emotions that are polar opposites: positive, faith-based emotions and negative, fear-based emotions. Each has its own set of molecules and performs as spiritual forces with chemical and electrical representation in the body.
Faith-based emotions are love, joy, peace, happiness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, forgiveness and patience. These produce good attitudes and thoughts.
Fear-based emotions include hate, anxiety, anger, hostility, resentment, frustration, impatience and irritation. These produce toxic attitudes and create a chemical reaction in the body that can alter behavior.
Fear is the root of stress. Scripture says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). Fear-based thinking blocks the flow of healthy chemicals and releases toxic chemicals that put you into stress.
When your thoughts move you into stress, your emotions attempt to rule. Emotional perceptions are designed to create alertness to guide but not rule, because they misinterpret truth. Stage one of stress is the protective alarm that guides and helps you deal with dangerous, threatening situations. It creates a sweaty palm, quickened heart rate, adrenaline rush and a fight-or-flight emotional and biological response.
Once the alert stressor is gone, your accelerated heart rate (through narrowing of the arteries and increased blood volume) begins to return to normal. However, if your body stays under the constant barrage of negative stimulation, toxic waste begins to build up. An uncontrolled thought life will create fear-based emotional and physical conditions for illness.
In the second stage you enter acute long-term stress. Your mind and body start feeling as if they belong to someone else. The chemicals pump at will and in sequence through your body, and the first area they attack is your cardiovascular system.
If the chaotic thoughts are not controlled at this point, your stress hormones and chemicals never stop reacting. They move to a cellular level where your body experiences tissue damage and system breakdown. Internalizing wounded emotions at this point will eventually create a volcanic buildup in your body allowing a seething mix of anger, hostility and resentment.
Suppressed emotional pain can also cause lingering physical pain.
Hosea 4:6 demonstrates wisdom and insight about this toxic pathway. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” If you understand something, you can begin to control it instead of letting it control you. Knowledge and understanding give you the tools. With the Holy Spirit’s power to remind you of God’s truth, you can begin to consciously control your thought life and deal with harmful emotions.
According to the word of God, which is more accurate than medical science, controlling your thought life brings health to your body. You can live most of your life in a passive mental state or you can choose to battle for your mind. It seems like an unfair battle because you can’t see what’s happening, yet you can’t escape the battle. The frontline of the war is the toxic thought. It usually enters through the five senses and if it is unchecked, it can become a mental stronghold of the enemy. The finish line is the final battle cry of victory when you take captive and overturn your toxic thoughts.
This Week Jesus knows your thoughts. “But Jesus, knowing (seeing) their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil and harbor malice in your hearts?” (Matt. 9:4, Amplified) Acknowledge what Jesus sees and renew your mind with God’s Truth as you bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor.10:5)
Prayer “Lord, thank you for revealing how my negative and destructive thoughts are controlling me. I understand now how the enemy works with my thoughts to make me live in fear and stress. I choose to live in faith as you help me renew my mind with truth.”
Watch Dr. Leaf this week on LIFE Today as a part of the series "Your Body, His Temple."