What to Do If You’re Feeling Negative Thoughts (Take Every Thought Captive)

June 3, 2016 | 19 comments

I let my thoughts wander the other day, and not in a good way. My thoughts wandered toward the fact that I’d been left out by some friends.

I realize how “junior high” this makes me sound. I’m 44 years old, for heaven’s sake, and I thought those feelings were years behind me.

Nope! They came creeping back when I found myself standing on the outside, like the unpopular kid in the school lunchroom. Left out. Excluded.

When I dwelled on the fact that I wasn’t invited, my mind tried to tell me all the things that I was NOT: cool, fun, relevant, hip.

My mind was running wild, and all those scattered thoughts about my perceived inadequacies had me feeling the opposite of happy.

Then, I remembered something I had learned when I took this fantastic dare toward happiness:

Because of the Holy Spirit living in me, I had the actual power to take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.

So I spent the next 10 minutes feeding my mind with the truth about who Jesus said I was: loved, cherished, friendly, fun-loving. I actually have a lot to be happy about! I reflected on happy moments in my life that day, and happy activities that my husband and I had planned for the coming weekend. I was taking my thoughts captive. (See 2 Corinthians 10:5).

It took discipline. My mind wanted to dwell on this: You were excluded because you aren’t enough. But when I took my thoughts captive, I was reminded of all the ways that I’m “in.” In Christ, I’m never left out!

Ten minutes after my personal “Captive Thought Session,” I felt a sense of well-being. It didn’t change my circumstances — the invitation never came. But it changed me.

When we feed our minds with happy moments, God’s truths, and positive thoughts, we aren’t falling for some hokey gimmick. We are doing what Scripture says. We are taking our thoughts captive, and making them obedient to Christ.

It all comes down to choosing to believe what God says about us. More than what people say about us. More than what our feelings tell us. More than what our circumstances shout at us.

Today, let’s focus on taking our thoughts captive and giving them all over to Jesus.

“. . . we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).


Your Turn

What have you learned from God about leashing in your runaway thoughts?

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by | June 3, 2016 | 19 comments


  1. Leanne

    Jennifer, where were you last night?! Thank you for writing this and I’m going to try it the next time.

    • dukeslee

      Ha! I know, right? I have to preach and re-preach this one to myself. 🙂 I was just sharing with someone on Facebook that one way to take those thoughts captive is to focus positive energy into bringing delight to others. I always manage to reverse my negativity when I am serving someone else, or going out of my way to bring happiness to someone else’s life. Sending a text, a card, an invitation, a little bit of love. xo

  2. Doris2

    Thank you for this post, Jennifer! I have always heard what we are to do (take our thoughts captive to make them obedient to Christ) but never caught the specific “how to” that you gave us. Many thanks! The light bulb has come on! 🙂

    • dukeslee

      I’m so glad, Doris! I really think there’s a great deal of intentionality that goes into this. And for me, it’s a combination of yielding myself to the Holy Spirit, focusing my mind’s eye on what God says about me by remembering His truths, calling a friend who I know will speak truth, praying, going for a walk, listening to praise music, and quite often (like I was writing to Leanne here in the comments) serving someone else. When I am serving or going out of my way to bring a little bit of love and life and light to another person, my spirits are automatically lifted. I found that be true when I took my Happiness Dare, and I write about that quite extensively in my forthcoming book. I wrote this sentence in one of the chapters of the book, and it’s been a lifeline for me: “The best way to find happiness is to create happiness for someone else.”

  3. CM Hazelwood

    Hi Jennifer. I have just started radiation treatments, and was filled with fearful thoughts. My imagination ran wild, even to thinking of death in different ways, not related to radiation treatment, even. (I think I read too many mystery novels the weekend before.)

    Then somehow the LORD reminded me of what I was doing, and I started remembering all the wonderful things He has done for me, including healing for fibromyalgia, straightening my neck, and healing a tooth.

    I still have some anxiety, but I still keep making the effort to praise God. I remember that He made the oceans and told them where their boundaries are (Psalm 34, I think.)

    I had my second treatment today. The nurse gave me some excellent lotions and ointments to protect my skin, and that is helping.

    Thank you for the post, and yes, the specific ways to take thoughts captive!

    • dukeslee


      Just popping in here to tell you that i’m praying for you as you go through radiation. May you be healed, through and through. xo

  4. Martha Orlando

    This is such wonderful advice, Jennifer! The next time I find myself feeling less than adequate or “left out,” I will take those thoughts captive and turn them over to the Lord. Blessings!

    • dukeslee

      I envision being a kind of cowgirl, with a lasso, to rustle up those negative thoughts and then haul those bad boys to prison! 🙂

  5. Michele Morin

    When we realize that what the Bible says is actually true and that God’s instructions actually work . . . ? Amazing!
    Looking forward to taking the Happiness Dare! My copy ships next week!

    • dukeslee

      I know, right? It’s all right there in the good book.

      About the Happiness Dare. No way! They are shipping that out already? Which retailer? It doesn’t release officially until Aug. 2, but sometimes Amazon will start sending out a bit earlier. I’d love to hear more. And Michele? Thank you so much for taking The Happiness Dare, and investing in the book. Means so much. xo

      • Michele Morin

        I review books for Tyndale, and they’ll be sending it along. I’m excited about sharing your book with my readers after I’ve savored its truth.

  6. Nancy Ruegg

    As soon as I realize that I’m circling a cesspool of negativity, I try to take my thoughts captive with praise to God and gratitude for his blessings, just as you did. It does help! I have to admit, though, there have been times in my life when I’ve had to fight the same battle against the same negative thoughts, repeatedly. (They like to make a return appearance!) Perhaps it was God’s way of teaching me about perseverance and faith. Next time I have to take certain thoughts captive, I’m adding these “fighting words” of yours to my arsenal:I “It all comes down to choosing to believe what God says about us. More than what people say about us. More than what our feelings tell us. More than what our circumstances shout at us.” AMEN, Jennifer, and thank you!

    • dukeslee

      Nancy. Same. Totally.

      I take the thoughts captive, but they somehow break out of their prison to harass me again! Ugh!

  7. Leah Adams

    This >>>> “Because of the Holy Spirit living in me, I had the actual power to take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.”>>if only I will remember and act on it when my thoughts send me in the direction of being a Negative Nelly. There are two areas of my life where I find it most difficult. Thanks for the reminder, Jennifer.

    • dukeslee

      So glad that my words could serve your beautiful heart, Leah. xo

  8. Meghan Weyerbacher

    Yes and amen! This is something I thought would get easier with time, and maybe it does and I haven’t gotten there yet?? but….it is a daily thing for me – to have to put on that armor and pull up those boot straps and be prepared to capture them evil things!!! Them little thought minions running around! (wanted to make you laugh..hehe) It is true though!

  9. Patricia A Krank

    Hahaha! I had just the same thing happen to me on Saturday and I’m 60! Like you, I had to dwell on who I am in Christ to stop acting like someone I wasn’t. You are awesome Jennifer and I’d invite you out for fun anytime 🙂

    • Jody Ohlsen Collins

      I’m with Patricia–60 plus years old and those feelings of being on the outside still come around when I get left out of something. What to do? Tell myself God’s truth and step outside the situation for a minute to put my Objective Hat on….that takes a little doing.
      Great post, Jennifer!

  10. Missy

    I’m with Patricia and Jody…its not an age thing…its God’s enemy trying to steal and destroy. I hate when I get like this. Have to use God’s truth every single day as often as needed.


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