Junk Monkey!? Around construction sites in Amarillo, often there will be a placement of a bright green dumpster labeled “Junk Monkey” for the disposal of all construction “junk”. My thoughts, like a bunch of monkeys in trees, are constantly jumping from thought to thought like. As I try to “construct” a healthy life, I tame my thought “monkeys” by disposing the toxic ones in my own “Junk Monkey”. Toxic thoughts such as mind-reading, fortune telling, always and never, and self depreciation can become habitual, beginning early in life.
As the oldest child,growing up, I lived constantly with parental criticism. Though well meaning, my parents were perfectionistics and thought the criticism would encourage me to do my best. I performed out of fear in an effort to keep the peace. I began to form the identity that I was not good enough, which became the origin of my self deprecating thoughts. How I saw myself was from the eyes of an egocentric child. My parents did not think I wasn’t good enough, they simply wanted me to be the best. Not good enough was an untrue and toxic thought, causing me much anxiety. Habitual toxic thinking or Automatic Negative Thoughts have well established nerve pathways or neural pathways in our brains. Toxic, fearful thoughts have a chemical response in the brain leading to physical illnesses. Living life, controlled by toxic thinking increases depression, irritability, isolation, anger, poor sleep and anxiety, robbing us of emotional health, leading to anemic living, constricted with fear and drained of energetic passion.
We need to learn to manage this mental junk and detox our brains. We can tame our toxic thoughts and form new neural pathways of life giving thoughts that are true. But first, we must be aware of our thoughts. Most of us have no awareness, we just feel and react. We must Stop. Breathe. Think about your thinking. This requires training your mind to control what your brain is thinking, this process is called mindfulness. Mindfulness is being aware of what your brain is thinking and where you choose to focus your attention. Mindfulness can tame those (jumping monkeys) toxic thoughts, helping you to become calm, focused, compassionate and positive.
How we think impacts how we feel in our body. When you physically feel tense, down, cranky etc….check your thoughts. You may be thinking resentful, negative or hopeless thoughts. Stop. Breathe. Think about your thinking. And then focus your attention on to something else, guiding your thoughts to be in the moment, releasing those toxic thoughts into the “junk monkey”.
A good word to describe how to be “thinking about your thinking” is to NOTICE your thoughts. Notice your thoughts, label the toxic, negative ones and let them go – to flow out of your brain. Be compassionate and curious about those thoughts, not critical…just label and let go. Then focus on your present senses, what are you smelling, seeing, hearing and feeling. Then reset and reconnect with your values and let them guide whatever you do next. Focus on the truth of who you are in Christ, the blessings and support you have present in your life. The reseting of thoughts will bring an expansion of awareness and energize the physical body.
In chapter 4:1-9 of Philippians, Paul writes controlling the direction of our thoughts.
So then, my brothers and sisters, dear friends whom I long to see, my joy and crown, stand in the Lord in this way, my dear friends! 2 I appeal to Euodia and to Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I say also to you, true companion, help them. They have struggled together in the gospel ministry along with me and Clement and my other coworkers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! 5 Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near!6 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. 9 And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you. (NET)
In other words; Focus on the truth of God’s redemptive love that brings hope and joy, motivating us to the action of
helpful gentleness with others. (our purpose and valued life style) Let go of anxious thinking, by faithful trusting God with your needs, realizing your blessings with the attitude of thankfulness. Direct your thinking, meditate on true, pure and praiseworthy thoughts – the life of peace will be a reality.
Your thoughts matter, choose to be aware of your thinking and let go of the toxic thoughts. Live intentionally not passively allowing your thoughts to control you. Use your “Junk Monkey’!
Your thoughts are the words of your heart….let your words bring life to yourself as well to others.
Darlene Oslund says
Great article Cathy!! And so true!