Judging by the title you may be asking ‘Are you hearing voices in your head’? The answer is no, I’m not losing my mind just yet. So what exactly am I talking about? I’m getting at bad thoughts and suggestive reasoning which we allow to rule our day. I am sure you have found yourself in this situation, you had a tough day at work and someone just really ticked you off. You got so angry about what happened that all the way home from work and for hours or days afterwards you have torn the situation into a million pieces in your mind, analyzing everything down to the smallest detail and thinking about what you should have said and all the while you are getting more and more angry about the situation. Meanwhile, the person that you are angry with most likely has no idea that they have become the ‘topic’ of your ‘mind-rage’. Hours or days later when you have finally settled down, you might ask yourself ‘Why was I so upset and why did I spend so much time on those thoughts?’. The answer is that it was a temptation to begin with. Anytime that anger is involved in something that we hash out in our brains, most likely it begins with a temptation to get angry and upset about a particular situation. Lets say after you left the office, the idea popped into your head ‘What a moron, that guy makes me so angry’. What if instead of entertaining the thought, you just said to yourself ‘Jesus, I reject this thought’ and you moved on with your life. Things would be so much better and you wouldn’t have gone down the road that you did by being so angry and upset for no good reason.
Bad thoughts and suggestive reasoning is a tactic that the devil and his angels use against us as a very effective form of spiritual warfare. I myself fall victim to this attack quiet frequently and although I try my best to reject the thoughts, more likely than not I don’t realize that I am under spiritual attack until it is too late and I have already stuck my head into the noose. I work at an ‘office oriented retail store‘ as a tech, I have a manager who goes out of her way to make my life hell. She purposefully mistreat’s me and every employee in my store knows how much she dislikes me. From the first day I met her, she disliked me and as the months have progressed my frustration with the job has only grown. For the past month my hours have been cut down to 11 hrs a week while all the other employees are getting 30-40 hrs a week, even a new girl in my dept who only started a month ago is making triple the hours I am. It frustrates me to no end with the mistreatment and I have allowed my encounters with this woman to haunt my mind with endless bad thoughts as I have hashed different things over and over in my mind until I am furious with the situation. I usually realize by the end of my fury that I have allowed myself to fall for a temptation when I should have rejected the negative thoughts to begin with. Last night before going to bed, I picked up the book “Read Me or Rue It – How to Avoid Purgatory” by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan O.P., a thought came into my head and it was “Tomorrow you are going to have to work with (_____), instead of getting angry with her mal-treatment and rude demeanor, offer up your day for the Holy Souls“. And so I did, I offered up the day and every time today that I had a bad thought pop into my head, or heard this manager make a snide remark, or had a temptation to get angry about something with work, I immediately said “Jesus, I reject these thoughts and I offer this up for the Holy Souls“. I then said a prayer for the manager and moved on without another thought of the situation or problem. I cannot tell you how much better my day went. As I was getting ready to leave for the day, the manager requested a meeting with me in her office. I knew it was not going to be good and sure enough, she announced that I was not going to be getting more than 10hrs a week until at least April. After a few more things were said, I left and clocked out for the day and as I went out of the store, I offered up the bad news I had just received for the Holy Souls and I rejected any of the temptations I felt to get angry.
It was amazing the relief I felt at not giving the devil a chance to work on me with these temptations. Something does need to be done about this situation, I cannot continue to live on such meager pay, I have more money going out each month in bills than I have coming in, after all, last month I only worked 42 hrs for the whole month and if this manager has her way, I won’t be getting any more hours. It truly is sad that a person like this somehow makes it into a position of power in a company, because clearly they are not management material. I have been told countless times by the other two assistant managers what a good job I do, how much they like my work, all the compliments that come in from customers regarding the service I provide, and other good things. But, for some reason, God has allowed this to happen and perhaps I am meant to pray for this woman’s salvation. That being said, by me denying the temptation today, my day was not only better, it was good and although I received terrible news, I was able to accept it better with the graces I received by offering up my day to the Holy Souls.
Permission To Attack You
I was speaking to my Priest a few weeks ago about how to battle temptations. This good father told me that when a temptation enters my head, I have a split second to either accept it or reject it. The first thought is free, however, the second, third, fourth and so on are not free and are counting against me if I relish in them, accept them, act upon them, ect. If however, as soon as the temptation enters my mind, I say “Jesus, I reject this idea/thought/temptation” and then move on to something else, I have not sinned because I did not take pleasure in accepting or giving that thought permission to rule over me. Think of it like this, when we give a particular temptation permission to delve further into our mind, imagination, and thought processes. We are essentially giving that temptation a key to our soul and allowing it to run rampant where ever it wills. Once the thought/temptation has permission to enter our minds, we have given it sufficient power to control our thinking. The best way to fight this is to make a habit our of rejecting all bad thoughts that enter our minds. Don’t forget for a second that while our guardian angel and the Holy Spirit puts good ideas and thoughts into our minds, the devils are also suggesting their own devious temptations and thoughts into our minds in hopes that we will engage the thought and give it permission to torture us further.
Defending Against Bad Thoughts
Once we recognize the flash of a bad thought, the last thing we want to do is pay attention to it. If you can simply ignore it and get back to doing God’s will with your whole mind and heart, great. But if the bad thoughts are insistent, ignoring them is not always easy. In those cases, we need to have a prearranged plan. We need to be ready to counteract them with prayer as we try to turn our attention back to God’s will. This can be a simple vocal prayer, like the Our Father or the Hail Mary. It can be a favorite verse from Scripture used as a shield against evil (e.g. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” Psalm 23:1), or it can be saying the name of Jesus slowly in our minds and hearts until the temptation dissolves. We need to keep up our defense to stop these attacks from gaining ground with our souls.
Lastly, thinking of your soul as a Castle and your mind the castle walls and drawbridge. Clearly we do not want to allow our drawbridge to be down when the enemy comes knocking. You will want to protect yourself and not allow the enemy to gain ground with you. The battle that is ensuing is for your SOUL, protect it with your life. Spiritual warfare is real and rejecting bad thoughts is on the front lines of our everyday spiritual warfare battle plan. My suggestion is to monitor yourself over the next week and try to keep track of the bad/negative thoughts that you are attacked with. Do your best to reject them and fight them with the prayers I mentioned above. Watch as you notice the change within yourself as you will notice how much stronger you will get with this exercise.
God Love and God Bless,