Breaking the Chains Which Hurt the Mind


Today my friend Holley Gerth offers a rich vein of encouragement with her new link-up, Coffee for Your Heart, asking us gals to share any encouraging words we are passionate about as we begin 2014. These are mine {well, technically they belong to a Roman poet named Ovid, but he says it so much better than I ever could}: ” Happy is the woman who has broken the chains which hurt the mind.” 


On September 11, 2001, I watched one of our nation’s worst tragedies unfold, yet  my anesthetized heart pumped indifference. I was fighting my own battle, a raging war tucked deep inside that left me numb and unnervingly detached from the pain of others

A senseless pain, a fear evoked by evil, but I sat unresponsive to the horrifying explosions that simply echoed my own pain. A barbaric unfeelingness, an inner rawness, had tempted my unhealed heart, callousing my compassion until it turned cold.

Read Chapter Six, When A Woman Finds Her Voice, What’s on Your Mind
Read 1 Kings 18.

That fateful day in September, I stood, feet planted in front of the television, unable to process, unable to accept. Should you be tempted to judge me, consider that my brain had been hijacked, healthy communication and comprehension blocked. Depression does that sort of thing, alters the brain’s biology, changes the heart’s beat. I was trapped in my own pain.

When the soul has been wounded, a dangerous confusion can leak into our minds. This chain, it could be broken, this emotional distortion overcome, but I didn’t know it at the time.

chains which hurt the mind

We are not trapped in these hurts of life.

I wish there was a magic wand I could wave to take it away, any pain or fallout from the hurts you may have experienced. Unfortunately, there is none. But there is a choice to be made, a choice that holds the power to change our lives. And that’s not some hyped-up, pretentious assumption—godly truths can’t help but change us.

We may not be able to change these things that have happened to us, but we can change the aftermath, the future. The secret lies in the training of our brains.

Like a child, our brains pretty much do what we train them to do. You see, the more we repeat something, the deeper it works into our belief system. Consider the emotional pain that clouded my inability to process something as tragic as 9/11—unknowingly, I had rehearsed that pain so frequently that it somehow created these easy-to-travel negative pathways in my brain that robbed me of healthy emotions. {That’s what repetition of thought processes does, creates a road-map.} Over time I learned to accept this as normal, my inability to feel. It became a habit that dominated and ran my brain.

The lies we tell ourselves can be just as powerful as truth.

While we cannot always control which thoughts land in our minds, we can decide whether to buy into them or not. Whether to feed them, or starve them. To allow them to take up residence, or kick them out.

I imagine it’s happened to you, too? You’re sitting there minding your own business when an all-consuming negative thought grabs you by the throat, by the heart.

What to do? How to train these unruly brains of ours?

1. Acknowledge the thought. That’s right, don’t deny it or it will try to control you with guilt. {Trust me on this one.}

2.  Barter any irrational thoughts for God’s grace. {Stand stronger knowing that others fight this battle too.} These thoughts are not coming from the real you, from your true voice. We have to allow God to untwist the lies that tempt us to act on these false feelings.

3. Communicate the Truth. {Understand the health of your belief system hinges on this one.} It’s crucial to choose a Truth message that replaces the negative thought. {Know in advance that this is much like learning any other new skill, it will require some practice.}


So very much of our internal dialogue, our “self-talk” is negative messages rooted in low self-worth. The kind of talk that spoils a soul, wears down a spirit. We must change this; we must fight for this positivity that comes from being rooted and grounded in Truth.

Let’s make a plan this week. What are some “in-real-life” things you can do that will move you closer to trusting God’s truth and allow Him to guide your emotions? Please share with us in the comments below.


{Find more encouragement with Jo Ann’s recently released book, When A Woman Finds Her Voice: Using Your Story to Make a Difference.}


{And don’t forget to stop by some auh-mazing blogging communities in Holley’s Coffee for Your Heart link-up!}



72 thoughts on “Breaking the Chains Which Hurt the Mind

  1. So much truth and power in this. Worth the steps any day. I had to learn this to gain victory and you can too. 2 Cor. 10:4-5! My favorite warfare prayer. Thank you, Jo Ann. Praying for us all to walk in continual victory through Jesus Christ.

    • Deborah, I love how you said “any day.” It reminds me that Satan can attack at any time and we need to be ready with the Word right on our lips.

      • Any and every day! Right thinking is a spiritual exercise that will bear much fruit in us. Think the Word, speak the Word, so we can live the Word!

    • Thank you, Deborah! You so inspire me. I love all your facebook posts and posts on here. Keep sharing the word, love, and testimony girlfriend!! I so look up to you.

    • Amen Deborah Sewell,
      Let us continually walk in pray claiming our Victory through Christ Jesus & praising together His mighty works. Amen.

      • Amen, speaking the Word and claiming our victory is powerful no matter what we see at the moment. Just like a farmer throwing seeds in dirt.

        • Good analogy Deborah,
          . My mother would love it as she lived up north when she was young our family had resorts but they were also neighbors of farmers. And there is a beautiful analogy in the book 1000 gifts of the gratefulness of the farmer. I would not have thought of that so thank you!

  2. When negative thoughts – lies – begin to cast a shadow on the joy of the Lord, I have to ask myself this one quesiton “Whats one Truth you can believe today?” One Truth…..sometimes the lies become a pack of lies – an overwhelming flood. Sometimes its hard to see any sort of light….but when all I have to do is look for One Truth – it all seems a little easier. What’s Your One Truth?

    • Small steps are always good Janee. God knows we can’t do it all at once and so does Satan. When we focus on one thing and let that positive thought, verse, or affirmation sink in it becomes our truth and something we can call on over and over. My one truth? I need to trust God is in control and working things out for my good.

    • Small steps are always good Janee. God knows we can’t do it all at once and so does Satan. When we focus on one thing and let that positive thought, verse, or affirmation sink in it becomes our truth and something we can call on over and over. My one truth? I need to trust God is in control and working things out for my good.

      • That is a good truth… There are days, where I will just ask myself “What lie am I beleiving today?” Some days, its that I will never lose weight or nothing will ever change. My truth for that lie is that ALL things are possible Christ who strengthens me. When I hear myself say “Why should today be any different?” I answer, because God didnt say He was doing an old thing, He said He is doing a New Thing. Its like that…..Simple enough to handle when things are a little rough…..

      • Yes I so agree…admit the lie and acknowledge the truth. I have to renew my mind daily in God’s Word. I call it being a R12 believer (Romans 12:2) I love the promises for every essential need from peace in the storm; comfort for the pain; relief for my suffering and hope for the future. God is faithful to provide all spiritual healing and I trust Him for eternity.

    • Janee, you are very wise. Small steps, girlfriend! Pick one thing you can believe today, one truth, one tiny whisper from God, and hang on tight! He will bless you and carry you through. 🙂 Praying for you.

        • Janee White,
          I spent too many years not understanding that it is my calling to CLAIM the Victory CHRIST has already won for us! But now I have the knowledge that I have to stand with fellow followers For as the saying goes United we stand divided we fall & when our backs are against the wall we are together ( I rewrote it a little). Also the Holy Scriptures tell us wherever two or more are in agreement & ask He is in our mist!
          So let us stand united before His Grace Claiming the Victory He desires in our lives!

    • Janee, I would make a list of the many truths in God’s Word about YOU! One for each of the stinky lies. I would write the lie small and the TRUTH BIG on post it notes, in a notebook or whatever would help you the most. When the enemy comes in like a flood, Jehovah Nissi raises a banner against him. That banner is the standard of the Word! Praying for your victory!

      When the enemy tries to do this to me, I pray 2 Cor. 10:4-5, then I open my door (usually my back door) and tell him to GET OUT! It works.

  3. i was having a fit last night, putting myself down, my looks where I was as a model of 15 years to where I am now after having 4 little women. my body ugh has changed and i received an invitation last night to a red carpet event. me, this body, in a formal…hmmm. living in the Hollywood area is difficult on a daily basis as it is and being almost 50 and trying to grow old gracefully is a humbling task.

    • Wow Teresa, I can imagine such an invitation would warrant questioning about myself too! I think as women we fight a battle between worldly beauty and godly beauty. For me, I view growing older as an honor. I may feel differently in 20 years but I believe you are beautiful, wise, and a very good example for christian women with young families. The title of your blog alone says a lot about what you value in life. So you get a rockin’ dress and you walk that red carpet like the amazing daughter of our God that I know you are.

      • I wish we could like each comment…there is great power in humility and modesty is a great choice. I do value my life experience and God’s gift of beauty within my character as He continues to refine and redesign!

    • Sweet one, God loves you! And God says you are precious (Ps. 139:17, Zechariah 2:8) and He loves you so much that He found you worth dying for! (1 Jn. 4:10). Our society is so judgmental and places incredibly unrealistic high expectations on women in particular…..but know that you are precious and have found favor with God! He loves you so much that he found you worthy to entrust you with 4 little princesses yourself! Don’t let those negative thoughts govern the way you feel….let God’s WORD govern the way you feel! Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (reading His word) and God will change the way you think….and feel. Praying for you right now, sweet sister! Hang in there. God loves you. And so do we! 🙂

      • ^^ Also, if the God of the universe, the One who created everything in existence says you are beautiful, precious loved….who are you to argue with Him? 😀 I have prayed for you, sweet sister!

  4. Oh goodness. I can SO identify with negative-thought talk. I know my low self-worth is rooted in the history of sexual abuse in my life, but I refuse to let that abuse define me. I allowed it to control me for over 20 years, and I am done. That is not who I say I am. That is not who GOD says I am. My brothers both abused me, but there comes a time when I have to stop blaming them for the way that I feel NOW. I was feeling really depressed last night, having terrible thoughts, like, “Why bother? What’s the point? Why did God even make me?” and my very next thought was this: “NO. I am loved (John 3:16, 1 Jn 4:10), I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14) God says I am precious (Ps. 139:17, Zechariah 2:8), and He loves me!!” I meditated and prayed over THESE thoughts, and I felt so much better! I then was able to “be still” in God’s presence and found peace beyond anything that I can understand. God’s Word is alive and active and if we mediate on what is lovely and excellent of praise (Phil. 4:8), He will change the way we think (Rom. 12:2)!! We think, oh this is so hard, I can’t get my mind off these thoughts. No, the hard part is CHOOSING to get your mind of these thoughts. Because WE are not the ones who change the way we think, God does that for us, when we purposefully choose to focus on His Word. God does the heart work! But it’s our choice whether to let these negative thoughts govern our lives. We don’t HAVE to stay miserable. There IS a way out… we really want to feel better? God will change our feelings by changing the way we think, but only if we let Him. God came to give us freedom—freedom if we so choose. He will never force us. Shew, another breakthrough. Thanks again, Jo Ann!

  5. I think I have it right, Sorry if Disqus posted the before stuff, I was trying to delete it. On to the topic on hand. Breaking the chains and getting rid of negative thoughts. Besides reading my daily devotional and other blogs and websites, last week, I bought three thin rings. Faith, Hope and “The journey of a thousand miles, begins with one step”, to keep me on track with God. This is big for me, because I don’t wear rings, as my fingers swell. Then just a little awhile ago, I was commenting on someone else’s posting about negative people, and the package that I had ordered for putting on the wall, over my bed arrived. It’s a saying, “Don’t count sheep, talk to the Shepard”. Giving me a reminder to hand over my troubles to the Lord so I can sleep. 🙂

    • I love that Debie! Talking to the Shepard instead of counting sheep. It’s great that you have visual reminders of God’s love and grace. Beautiful!

  6. I know all about that negative road map. I have traveled those pathways for years. I had a core of toxic shame, because of things beyond my control. I felt I was absolutely worthless. Only over the last two years have I realized I have to actively claim who God says I am instead of believing what the world might say about who I am.

    Living under secrets can make a person believe the most negative of things. But God says that I am loved and cherished. It took me time to own it, but now I do not allow my mind to travel the beat down road of feeling ashamed and rejected. God knows that I had no control over where I came from, and He does not hold the sins of others against me. And now neither do I.

    • Deanna, you are beautiful! Thank you friend. Your words incredibly blessed me tonight. “God knows that I had no control over where I came from” You are so right. I have struggled for years feeling guilty for what others have done. Now it is time to rise up, stand up, and shout out what I’ve done and who I am! I have sought and found God with all my heart, and I am a daughter of the King! I am loved, I am precious, I am fearfuly and wonderfully made, and God has a plan for my life! Yes!! God is good. Keep it up, sister. I can see you are well on your way to the healing path. God bless you, I am praying.

      • Thank you D, so glad that my words blessed. It amazes me how God can take my experiences to help another. For years, I lived under a secret I did not know. At 18 when I found out the secret, it almost destroyed me. I had not intended to share my story here. So many people would be upset if they saw it…but obviously you can possibly relate to feeling guilty about what others have done. So I will share, and hope that Jo Ann doesn’t find it wrong. I found out at 18 that I was born out of incest, up until that point I did not know. It destroyed the already fragile person that I was. I’ve always had an intense sense of right and wrong, and this I could not comprehend. I felt that I was a huge mistake, on top of that I felt like I ruined my mothers life. So for years afterward I retreated from the world, falling eventually into a depression that I battled for many years, and have only recently found freedom from that.

        At this point I know whose I am, and I cling to what the Word says about me, instead of what others may say or think about me. I will no longer be defined by shame, even if it was mostly in my own mind. I know that I have worth in Gods eyes, and really He is the only one who matters, so what outsiders may think of me, is not so important. And there has been restoration brought to broken relationships. God is so good!!

        • Deanna, your bravery is remarkable. I am so proud of you for be able to discuss what happened, process it, and move forward. It takes guts to speak it out loud and that’s just what you did. Go does use us to glorify Him and help others through their pain. I didn’t understand any of that when I was going through a lot of distress and trauma. But when I look at it now He had it all mapped out and so intricately charted my course. Thank you for sharing and trusting us in this space.

          • Sweet Sarah, I don’t consider myself brave. It is just as God has taken the pain and shame, there is no reason to keep it hidden anymore. It’s just not something I can share on my blog because my mom does not approve and I wouldn’t hinder her Christian walk for nothing. Yet one day, perhaps I can share more openly how God has helped me turn my life around, when it is appropriate.

            • Oh beautiful one. You are amazing. I too, am so proud of you for speaking out and having a voice. Sarah is right–that takes bravery! It is often EASIER to keep quiet. Quiet is what you’ve always done, what you’ve always known. You already know how to handle your present because you’ve always been handling it in your past. But often the fear of speaking up comes from the fear of the future…what will happen if I speak the truth? How will people react? What if I can’t handle the fallout? So you stay quiet. It SEEMS easier. But I stress seems. Sweet one, you are beautiful and I am so blessed to have crossed paths with you. I think we relate on the silence factor. I find it easy to come here and share my own previously that I did not and could not share with others….but where it really counts, where true healing could really begin (in my personal life), I am too afraid to speak out. I know in my mind that I could help so many people if I did speak up, but many people would be hurt if I did, and I don’t feel that’s fair. Oh sister. This is a long, hard journey! Let’s pray for each other 🙂 Deanna, if you ever want to talk, just comment on here your email address and I am here for you! No one should have to carry their secrets alone and in shame. God is good….keep smiling and meditating on His Word! You are a bright light in the midnight sky, my dear! 🙂

              • Thank You D. I am pretty content with where I am right now and no longer feel a desperate need to talk about it, as I did early in my healing. But I am always looking for new friends. You can email me anytime thepuresacrifice(at)gmail(dot)com.

        • One of the quotes from the book I am writing is this: “We should never be ashamed of what someone else did; and we should never be embarassed about something we have been forgiven for.” You, have nothing to be ashamed of, and I am grateful you found a place you can share without fear of judgment I totally respect you for not wanting to hinder another persons walk, and it brings me a bit of peace about what parts of my testimony I will share while my mother is still alive. God bless you Deanna…and I look forward to the day where the fullness of your testimony will be shared.

  7. I am so ready to get rid of that negative mindset that has plagued so much of my life. I never realized how much it weighed me down. I got so used to carrying around that dead weight that I thought it was normal. My hope and prayer is that my new norm will be a mind of praise & thanksgiving!

    • Praying for your journey Vashti! God loves you and He wants to take all your ashes and turn them into beauty! (Isaiah 61:3) You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are a daughter of the King! Praying over your name tonight. Blessings!

    • When we carry the weight of our past and allow it to become part of us it’s difficult to separate the lies from the truth. Your hope and prayer are valid and God will honor your efforts sweet friend! A new norm with a focus on Him will help you go so far.

  8. Negative talk comes up, angry thoughts…but in the end, I remind myself of the bigger picture. I remind myself how emotions lie. I remind myself that I’m doing what God wants me to do. I caught an attitude yesterday and just had to stop and see what was really going on with me. In the end it was an apology and an explanation that stopped the stream roller that threatened the day. God is in control…I cannot forget it!

  9. Oh yes, I seem to be the queen of negative self talk. Comes from messages I was told when I was younger. I was told that I was stupid. I was ugly. I was crazy. I am not wanted. I don’t come first…someone else does. And along with this…thinking that other people assume to worst about me.

    I am learning to reprogram these messages and to replace them with God’s truth. That God has given me a sound mind. God has given me intelligence. I’m beautiful in God’s eyes and fearfully and wonderfully made. I have to meditate on what is good, what is right, and what is holy.

    • GodsGirl, you are so right! When we turn to the Truth and really listen to what He says about us then the negativity has no place. Reprogramming is a process but worth it to live healthy lives. So glad you are working on this!

    • Oh GodsGirl, I have been there. I have lived there. And most days, I am there. The trick is knowing that you don’t have to BELIEVE everything that you THINK. The enemy constantly bombards us with these thoughts, but it is our choice whether to believe them. We store God’s Word in hearts…but will be really believe it? Ouch. That hurts even me! I need to grow and trust God more, that what He says is true! I’ve been listening to these lies too long. GodsGirl, I am praying for you! We can do this together….with God’s Word….1 day, 1 hour, 1 minute at a time. Bless you, my sweet friend!! ♥

  10. Negative self-talk sneaks up on me like a lioness lying in wait for her prey. Even on days I am convinced of my place as a daughter of the One True King that negativity can quickly appear and bring me down, especially negativity rooted in previous experiences. I’m closer to 50 now than 40. As a teen being bullied was a norm for me, I thought I deserved it, caused it even. As an adult with the help of Jesus Christ I have slowly emerged from that mindset… least I thought I had. Two days ago I was faced with workplace bullying that cut straight to my heart, I went from confident and smiling to a place where I could literally feel myself shrinking back, denying it was bullying and deciding I would be better not to address it, keep it hidden and it will go away someday. This time though I prayed and the Holy Spirits conviction was quite clear, clear that I do not deserve this, clear that it must be addressed, and clear that being rooted in His love and His Word trumps any negative self-talk. I used to believe memorizing scripture was just for kids in Sunday School…’s not, for the more of The Word I have imprinted upon my heart, the easier it is to stamp out that negative self-talk. Pray the promises He makes in His Word, pray it boldly and with great expectancy, He will deliver!

    • Yes! You’re on the road to victory, my friend! God’s word is “…sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow…” (Hebrews 4:12) I declare this is a year of not living by bread alone but living by “every word that comes from the mouth of God!” (Matthew 4:4) Sing it sister!! 🙂

    • Wow Amy,
      Thank You for sharing, I relate to so much of your experience. And now in my later 50’s I am finally discovering my purpose all those memorized Scriptures have brought me here to have positive woman like you on the journey of claiming the promises Christ has won.

    • Yes Amy!! This is wonderful. Preaching to ourselves the truth is so powerful. It’s easy to tell others the good news but sometimes it’s harder for us to believe it for ourselves. Keep going!!

  11. Dear Ladies,
    I have been trying to participate faithfully praying & doing our chapters but extreme weather & no internet only being able to see some of Facebook posts from my phone, would not allow me into this segment. So Please forgive me, I really need to connect.

    I am allowing myself the privilege of hearing the voice God in the Love, Peace & Joy of Christ’s own Love for me in my everyday circumstances in my own life. I am created in God’s own image. And God’s image is whole allowing me to hear His voice I am able to obtain a clarity that permits me to follow His will. This is where the gift of the Holy Spirit enters in and as the Scriptures say “He will make even your enemies to lie down and be at Peace”. Also He will give you the words to speak when the time comes that you will need them.
    I attended a parish retreat some years ago with so many Why’s (I could not consciously think about all of them because my Why’s overwhelmed me). I participated on the first of my teams still overwhelmed with my Why’s As I sat hour after hour, week after week, month after month & year after year slowly reflecting on His voice guiding me and giving me His Words to Speak I am slowly discovering my Voice in His Will for my purpose. His purpose for my voice is to come to the realization of the healing He is doing in me and allowing that healing to touch those He calls in the Community of CHRIST’S believers in FAITH!
    I am honored to be on this journey here in this place, PEACE, JOY & LOVE!

    • I haven’t been able to participate either due to internet connection problems; travel; sickness; etc. Thankfully I could connect personally with some new friends as we discuss the book but I do want to continue this journey with all you special Sisters in Christ. I have struggled with the negativity both from family members and within my own self-talk. I learned some great ways through grad studies and coaching on how to deal with the negative flashbacks. So many little things can trigger painful memories but I have to remember God’s voice is more powerful. It does require a daily discipline to turn to Jesus, go to the Bible and find promises of His truth to replace the lie or heal the wound. I developed a Renewing Worksheet from several good sources that helps us let go and receive grace to be, think and do differently. I will post it on my blog to share for anyone interested. It is time for me to be more proactive and start sharing as God heals. 2013 began and ended with extremely difficult suffering but I know God is sovereign, loving and He has a plan. Thank you all for sharing your journey. Two key Words for me are abundance and overcoming for 2014. Let’s keep focused for an exciting eternal adventure with our Savior!

      • Carol, that sounds amazing. What is the link to your blog? I would love to take a peek at that Renewing Worksheet. Thank you sweet sister! (:

        • D email me and I will send it to you today— I am setting new goals to share my writing, update my blog and complete my projects! But honestly I am in recovery from a broken leg and the chronic pain is setting me back but the grace of God is more powerful! I write almost every day and soon I will pass it on for His glory! I enjoy our Voice fellowship!

      • Through our suffering God refines us the most. I’m proud of you for continuing to make the effort to focus on Him every day. It takes a lot of practice but He honors our efforts! Thank you for sharing here.

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