Why You Have to Take Control of Your Thoughts

UPDATED: May 22, 2024
PUBLISHED: September 15, 2020

Fears emanate from your mind, which means that your mind can help you overcome them if you give it a chance. If you want to move beyond your fear, you have to learn to discipline your mind. Your mind can be your biggest enemy or your biggest asset—it’s truly up to you. If you want your mind to be your friend, you’ll have to take control of the way you think.

Many people aren’t intentional with their thinking; they allow whatever thoughts bubble up into their minds to have priority, as if they have no control over what they think about. I fully believe that your mind is something you must protect and take charge of; in the Bible, the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippian church that we must take control over what we think.

Paul put it this way: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things” (Phil. 4:8).

Notice what Paul says we should think about: things that are good, noble, right, pure, lovely— it’s essentially the original call to the power of positive thinking! The content we think about has the power to transform our minds, something that Paul wrote about in his letter to the Romans when he said, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). If you’re tired of thinking negative, self- defeating thoughts that are darkened by fear, then you have to turn your thoughts to good, noble, and right things in order to renew your mind. It’s a challenge, because for some people, the power of positive thinking is really just the power of denial of negative thoughts. But denial doesn’t help you grow; denial doesn’t renew your mind. Only turning your thoughts to things that are good and healthy can do that.

Learning to renew your mind this way is crucial because, in my experience, there are plenty of people who will go out of their way to challenge your thinking and make you doubt. This has happened to me before some of my walks. People always focus on the potential negative outcomes, the possibilities of my failing and falling. I understand why they ask—they simply cannot imagine doing what I do because they cannot imagine overcoming what I’ve overcome. Their minds go only to the dark and negative places, and that’s where they expect me to go when they ask questions. But negativity is a vacuum—it will suck you in and hold you there, a trap that will disengage you from your visions and goals. That’s why I always encourage people to remove anyone and anything negative from their lives. You can’t live in the negative realm and overcome your fears, which means you can’t be around people who live there. Negative people will always want you to be negative.

But the truth is, you can’t always remove everyone who adds some negativity to your life. Sometimes it is just a piece of the job. A key element of all these big walks I’ve done over the last several years has been the requirement to do pre-event media sessions. And while I have complete respect for what the media has to do, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that many of these sessions and the questions that come with them have an impact on my mindset.

Can you imagine just hours before you’re getting ready to walk out over Times Square being asked things like: “Do you have a death wish?” “Do you want to die on live TV?” “What if the winds are so strong that there is no way you’ll make it?”

I have actually been asked each of those questions! And yes, they do mess with my mind. That’s where developing this specific discipline is an absolute necessity.

Disciplining your mind will require sacrifices, but it will give you freedom. Start by writing down your thoughts so you can examine them. Take an hour and write down everything that comes into your head, without filtering it. Then, after the hour is up, take a look at what you’ve written down. Is it mostly positive or mostly negative? Full of doubt or full of faith? Look at the pattern because you’ll either need to break it or encourage it, depending on whether or not it’s building you up toward what’s good.

When you discipline your thoughts and where you allow them to go, you begin to move in the direction of your dreams. This discipline is crucial because it is the foundation for your future, and when you have a firm foundation, even if you fall, you get back up that much quicker. Build a firm foundation by surrounding yourself with positive people and positive things. Fill your mind with positive music and messages, positive words and images. Avoid putting destructive or hurtful junk into your brain, because what you put in you’ll inevitably get out.

Taken from Facing Fear by Nik Wallenda. Copyright 2020 by Nik Wallenda. Used with permission from www.thomasnelson.com

Photo by Tim Bogdanov/Unsplash.com

Nik Wallenda is a seventh-generation member of the legendary Wallenda family. Known worldwide for his incredible feats upon the high wire and beyond, Nik is the holder of 11 world records, among which are the highest four-level eight-person pyramid on the wire, the highest and longest bicycle ride on a wire, and hanging from a helicopter by his teeth. Nik's career began at the age of 2, as he learned to walk the wire while holding his mother's hand, leading from there to record-breaking performances across the United States and around the world. In 2012, Nik fulfilled his lifelong dream to become the only person to walk directly over the precipice of Niagara Falls, which was broadcast live by ABC. In 2013, he became the first person to walk a wire across the Grand Canyon, an epic event aired live by the Discovery Channel in 178 countries, breaking network rating and social media records in the process. The next Discovery special took place in Chicago, where he walked blindfolded between two skyscrapers in November of 2014. In June of 2019, accompanied by his sister Lijana Wallenda, Nik took it to yet another level, becoming the first person to walk over New York City's Times Square, an event that was carried live on ABC. Finally, on March 4, 2020, Nik became the first person to walk over an active volcano, at Masaya, Nicaragua. His latest book, Facing Fear: Step Out in Faith and Rise Above What’s Holding You Back is available now wherever books are sold.