I recently read a book that was quite life changing. It's called "Crash the Chatterbox" by Steven Furtick, and it opened my eyes to a problem I didn't even know I was dealing with. I won't give away all the great things in his book, you'll have to read it for yourself, but I will tell you it's about controlling your negative thoughts. And if you would have asked me a year ago if I had any negative thoughts, I would have told you no. As far as I knew, I was completely content with myself and who I was. I didn't think I struggled with body image and insecurities like the other girls my age did. I thought I was good, and somehow I escaped that trap.

I was wrong. I just didn't know it yet.

I once read somewhere about what the Bible means when it says “take every thought captive,” (2 Corinthians 10:5). At first it seems kind of silly. How do you control your thoughts, or have thoughts about thoughts? Now, you’re just confused. But imagine this: When something doesn’t go your way, or when someone does something to hurt you, you can ponder on that. You can let your anger build up inside of you. Your one thought of “I’m mad” can lead you down a road you don’t want to go, that could end with you making a huge mistake. You know, kind of like this meme.

And next thing you know, you and your best friend are hating a girl and you can’t even remember what she did.

Or maybe that thought starts with the first time someone ever pointed out a zit, or your bad makeup, or your hair, or any other flaw. And after that one time, you let what someone else said stay in your mind. And now you buy more make up, and you look at yourself 50 times in the mirror in the morning, and change clothes until you find something perfect, and that’s been five years since that one person even said anything.

Or that first time someone said you couldn’t sing, or write, or play that instrument, or play that sport, or whatever you wanted to do that you loved. And you analyzed and over analyzed and worked and made that your sole focus. Or you keep thinking about what that one guy or girl said to you, you can’t forget it, and now it consumes the way you think about yourself.

Stop.

One of the devil’s greatest weapons is what he tells you to believe about yourself. If he can convince you that you aren’t worth it, and that you aren’t who God has called you to be, then you can be destroyed. But you don’t have to allow him that power.

You don’t have control of what other people say or do. You don’t really have a lot of control over what you think about, at least not that first thought that pops into your head. But you do have control with what you do with it. Where it leads you, how you react to it.

And that thought resonated with me. Do I really control what I think about? Or do I let my mind wander aimlessly?

So I started paying attention, and sure enough I found some of my angry thoughts leading me to believe a situation was worse than it truly was. I found myself thinking about people that had wronged me. I thought about myself a lot too. I realized I thought about how I looked and how I acted more than I probably should. I realized I over analyzed every situation and laid in bed at night thinking about my mistakes from the day, what I could have done better. I thought about my weight. My height. My face. My skin color. My hair color. I thought about who liked me and who didn't. I realized that 80 percent of the things I was thinking about were negative.

Rather than taking my thoughts captive, I was letting my thoughts captivate me.

Then I realized how that was affecting my life. It led me to hate people for no reason. It led me to gossip and spread rumors and to treat people poorly when they didn't deserve it. Those thoughts made me change outfits 10 times in the mornings because I didn't look good enough. I put on more makeup and spent time fixing my hair until it was perfect. I picked apart my flaws. I thought about what people said to me and about me. It made me scared. I was scared to open my mouth and put myself out there. Scared to sing, to dance, to love freely, to do what I was called to do. And I had no idea. I had no idea I was being so self-conscious. I had no idea that they were lies. I never took inventory on what I was feeding myself and I'm here to tell you that is so dangerous.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8

Think on those things because they will save your life. They will keep you from getting to a dark place. Keep you from hating yourself, or loving yourself any less than you do right now. Those things will bless you and make you a better person. Those are the things worth thinking about. That is why the Lord said to think on them. He's not being picky, he's protecting you.

So take those thoughts captive. Evaluate them. That first time something pops in your head, you have the power to say no. You can let it go. Don’t take that thought any deeper, don’t let it consume you, just put it behind you. Instead, come up with something else to think about, your favorite verse, or favorite quote, and every time something negative comes up, remember that one thing instead. Ponder on those honorable things and let your mind rest.

I’m sure you are the hardest person on yourself.