5 Common Thoughts That Were Ruining My Life

Have you ever considered that the simple, common thoughts you have about yourself, about others, and about the world you live in might be running (and maybe ruining) your life?

ruin-your-lifePhoto Credit: Colby Stopa, Creative Commons

I’ve been reading a book recently that suggest this is true, and the research is compelling. According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of a book called Who Switched Off My Brain? our thoughts are like active, living things in our brains and they actually work to shape the physical structure of our brains, and therefore the reality we experience on a day to day basis.

Our thoughts are not neutral, she argues. They are powerful, and ever-changing.

In one sense, this is terrifying, don’t you think?

Because it means the thoughts that come through your brain have the ability to shift your physical body, to shape the actual structure of your brain, and to impact your experience of reality.

On the other hand, this is incredibly freeing. Because it means that an honest inventory (and spring-cleaning) of the thoughts you entertain could trigger tangible changes to your life and body. As I’ve been reflecting over the past few weeks about the thoughts which have negatively impacted my life, here are a few that came to mind.

1. Other people are inherently better, smarter, prettier, cooler, or more capable than I am.

I don’t know where I picked up this thought, but it’s played a too-prominent role in my life over the last decade or so. The truth is that there are wonderful, intelligent, beautiful, “cool,” and capable people all around me, but by celebrating their strengths, and choosing to collaborate rather than compete (or surrender, and self-deprecate), I demonstrate, cultivate and expand my own unique value.

2. I deserve better

I deserve to be treated better, to have a better living situation, a better car, a better life, etc, etc.

The truth is there is nothing more toxic than believing I “deserve” a better life than the one I have. I deserve nothing. Everything I have is grace. Lately I’ve been meditating on the common verse from Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all the rest will be added to you” and the meaning behind this verse is coming to life in a whole new way for me.

It’s simple, really. When we seek first the things of God (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control) everything else feels like icing on the cake.

3. The life I desire isn’t possible. My dreams are out of reach.

This thought is debilitating because it steals my hope. I’m learning to see lately how there is so much more within my reach than I have previously realized; and while the universe does not revolve around me, it is possible to have my deepest desires met when I’m honest about what I want, give up what it takes to go after it, and refuse to give up until the end is achieved.

4. The world is out to get me. The game is rigged.

I’ve always felt like, if things weren’t going my way, it was because the “game” of life was rigged. There was no point in trying. The end result would always be the same.

More recently I’m ditching this toxic thought. Most often, the patterns that repeat themselves in my life have a common denominator—me. It wasn’t easy to admit this to myself, because it meant taking personal responsibility for what I had done wrong, turning, and forging a brand new (scary, foreign) path for the future.

But accepting personal responsibility for the challenges in my life also uncovered great joy and meaning by offering a redemptive perspective to my suffering and giving me new-found emotional and spiritual freedom.

5. There are good people and there are bad people. The good people are on my team, and the bad people are out to get us.

This idea is reinforced by a ton of popular culture—and even religion. The problem is it’s really not Biblical, fair or productive.

This mindset fostered a posture of constant protection against potential threats and rendered me closed to experiences, ideas and people I didn’t expect or understand. When I close myself to what I believe is “bad” (which is based on my limited perception) I simultaneously close myself to what is good, too. A posture like this fosters bitterness, hatred, anger, fear, rage and resentment.

A life lived open, in contrast, is a life full of love, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, and self-control.

Can you think of other negative thoughts that are running (or maybe ruining) your life?


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Allison Fallon

I write books. I help people write books. I believe a regular practice of writing can change your life.

13 thoughts on “5 Common Thoughts That Were Ruining My Life”

  1. Thank you for this post, Allison!

    Just today, on the way home, i realized that i’ve been thinking a lot (!) of destructive thoughts (they don’t like me at my work, they are better, i am not smart, i am sick,….) And, i decided to first practice saying verses from God’s Word instead of thinking these thoughts.. it helped a bit, but the thoughts were kind of strong, since i’ve been pondering them for quite a bit of time already.. Then, i decided to “take every (destructive) thought captive” and surrender them to the Lord.. it worked.. of course, it is a process and will take time and a lot practicing praying these prayers.

    Thanks again, and may our God bless you!

    PS. i’m sorry for my imperfect English ..

  2. Thank you for this post! The exact verse that you shared Matt 6:33 has been pressed upon my heart in the last week. You’ve very simply expressed exactly what I’ve been considering in the last few days. Thanks for making it so clear and concise.

  3. The thought “If only…” often pollutes my mind. It thwarts my focus and keeps me from enjoying and learning from my present circumstance(s). Great post!!

  4. Oh, boy. You’re on to something here. Great book on the formative power of thoughts: The Brain That Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge. This is most encouraging stuff. We really can change. Life really can be different. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Prov. 23:7

  5. I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately. There is a book I read (well, listened to, on audible) recently called “Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting: The Astonishing Power of Feelings”. While I don’t agree with everything in the book (the author states that there is no such thing as sin– as a Christian I disagree), I do agree with the main idea of the book which is this: thoughts and, going further, the feelings that flow from them, have the power to shape our reality. I’ve been so aware of the way fear, anxiety, and even mild concern can block us from receiving the blessings coming our way, from living as a passionate co-creator with God. I’m not ‘owed’ anything. I believe wholeheartedly that God wants us to partner with him in co-creation (we are made in his image, after all). When we shift our perspective, the things we see change, and life becomes rich with blessings.

  6. I’ve been thinking a lot about where I want my life to go and am relating to so much of what you’re posting… I actually just blog/prayed (its a thing I’m doing– committing to logging my prayers every day for a year to see what comes of it) a bit about your post– the questions you’re asking– they are kind of wrecking me right now. (thanks for that– sincerely– its making me THINK).

    I most closely relate to your #1. Other people are inherently better, smarter, prettier, cooler, or more capable than I am. I often times think I am not capable or cool enough to pull off anything special, especially thanks to Instagram and Pintrest and blogs and all that stuff I spend too much time on instead of just living my life…

    Anyway, thanks again.

  7. I have been using Caroline Leaf’s teaching for a year or so now. I’ve been chronically unwell for 13 years, housebound for most of it and in chronic pain. I’ve lost a lot of life and dr’s can’t help me. When I found Caroline Leaf’s book something inside me leapt. She has seen people healed from other ‘incurable’ conditions, even non Christian drs have used her findings. I haven’t noticed a difference physically in my body yet but I know that God has healed me from many other emotional wounds etc through her teaching. All I can say to you is to make sure you’ve dealt with toxic thoughts before you become unwell as trying to change life long thinking patterns when your so ill is extremely difficult to do. Did you know Caroline Leaf has her own TV show now on TBN? Take a look at her website for times.
    Thank you for writing this great post.

  8. I have been following your blog for quite a while and in addition have read your book once and am listening to the audio version again now. I had one question leaving the book that you never really answered for me. Are you a Christian author/blogger? It seems to me that you are leaning that way and I wanted to say “good job!” While your book was written with a lot of biblical base, I love that your most recent blog posts have directly quoted scripture (and without taking it out of context as so many do these days). Thank you for your encouragement, advice and insight. I look forward to future posts!

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