Tell me that I’m not the only one who struggles with “black hole” thoughts that suck you into their powerful vortex of negativity and pain. Getting out of those thoughts takes a herculean effort of mindset shifting (and typically a lot of ragged emotions!).
It hit me recently that these demoralizing, soul-sucking thoughts aren’t from God.
I know – what?! How painfully obvious (and too easily forgotten).
And… when have I ever bounced back from black hole thinking and thought, “What an amazing way to spend my day! I feel so much better!”
If you don’t read any further than this sentence, I want you know this – black hole thoughts are not from God. He didn’t intend you to beat yourself and others up.
Definition of black holes
Wait – why am I calling these thoughts black holes?
Here’s a handy definition:
Sometimes we have thoughts that are akin to black holes – thoughts that are so powerfully negatively they suck us in and block out light.
Note: I’m not an expert on this, though I am an avid re-reader of General Relativity for Babies by Chris Ferrie. (Tot approved!)
A little boy eagerly declaring, “Shrink a mass! Shrink a mass!” pops up every time I think about black holes...
That doesn’t happen for you, too? Weird…
Some light reading to catch you up briefly on black holes and such…
Head’s up!: I’m not an expert in depression
Before we too in-depth about this topic, you need to know that I’m not a licensed counselor or psychologist.
This post may be helpful for addressing some concerns, but not all of them.
If you’re struggling with recurring dark thoughts and depression, please seek out professional help.
You’re worth it.
When Black Hole Thoughts Creep In
These black hole thoughts can creep in at any time, but especially so when you’re navigating conflicts or changes in seasons of life.
These thoughts move in as an unwanted roommate who you can’t seem to kick out.
They’re constantly repeating unhelpful feedback and you just can’t seem to shut them down.
But you can, by the grace of God, give those black hole thoughts the beatdown. Let’s dive in.
You know the cycle:
1. Black hole thought about X pops into your head
2. You tell yourself, “Stop thinking about X!”
3. You seek a distraction. X seems to go away…
4. Distraction ended. X is back!
5. You feel irritated and ashamed for thinking X again. Repeat, starting at step 3.
‘How do you get out of that nasty loop?
Let’s revisit our triggers, side effects and potential core messages that may play a role in this negative thought cycle.
Take a moment and think about much time and energy you give to black hole thoughts.
I’ve realized I’ve given them an embarrassing amount of my attention.
Typically, they’re triggered by any or all of the following:
- A disagreement or blow-out
- Physical pain that won’t seem to go away
- Painful memories that creep in
Does anyone else think this list looks remarkably similar to what triggers anxiety? I mean… c’mon.
By the way, check out this amazing talk about anxiety by Christ’s Church of the Valley.
Here’s some of the side effects of when I get in black hole thought space. Perhaps you might be able to relate, too?
- Lost appetite
- Can’t seem to sleep
- Physically drained
- Lose motivation to focus on higher level priorities
- Seek distraction (sometimes healthy, sometimes not)
- Want to talk it over and over and over again
- Steals my attention and present-ness from those with me
- Can’t seem to get my mind off the situation/problem/thought cycle
Honestly, a lot of this boils down to core negative beliefs about ourselves. Here’s a few from Psychology today:
- I’m inadequate.
- I’m unlovable.
- I’m weak.
- I’m a failure.
- I am not enough.
- I’m pathetic.
Oof – do you feel this hard-hitting, soul-sucking messages, too?
The Mindset Shift
When have these thoughts ever saved your day? My day? Made life more awesome?
Let’s face it – never.
Like I said, though, I realized that I had to change my habits regarding my thought life. Something needed to give my black hole roommate the boot.
Take Proactive Healthy Action
For me, some of these black hole thoughts were regarding recurring issues.
So, in some ways, I knew that these were ongoing issues. I could start taking ownership over my role in the issues and start influencing it.
Rather than stewing on it (as I had for YEARS), I actually took some small, scary steps to start a change.
You know what? Finally taking the plunge and doing what I knew I’d needed to do (again, for YEARS), was so liberating.
I finally felt like I had more autonomy in my circumstances.
So, that’s one of my challenges to you: identify what’s a proactive, healthy action you can take to reduce the hold of your black hole thoughts? Do it.
Perhaps it’s finally saying no to that event or activity you detest. Maybe it’s setting boundaries for yourself and communicating them to others (more importantly, holding yourself to them!). Maybe it’s getting rid of the stuff surrounding you that makes you feel like crap.
Dwelling on your true source of power and grace
And, yet… those black hole thoughts still crept in. They weren’t quite as harsh as before I took action, but they were definitely still there.
I needed a powerful, brief Scripture to slam down every time thoughts thoughts came creeping in.
(I want to clarify – going to God should be our first order of business. Sometimes it takes me a bit longer than I’d prefer for me to realize that!)
Enter Romans 12:21.
As I mentioned earlier, sometimes it’s easy to assume that these black thoughts are from God – He wants you to work out your issues.
Does God want you to pursue healthy, thriving relationships? Yes!
Does He want you to take ownership of your sins, confess and turn to Him? Yes!
Does He want you to feel like crap because that gives Him pleasure? No!
The Holy Spirit will point you to Him. He’s not going to do that through shaming you.
Wrap-up and let’s chat!
Black hole thoughts suck the joy out of your life and make it harder to be fully present.
You can defeat some black hole thoughts by:
- Noting what’s triggering you. If you can name it, you can claim it.
- Tune into what’s the message you’re telling yourself. More often than not, that message is false. Articulate what that message is so you can defeat it.
- Identify and take a proactive, healthy action you can take to reduce the hold of your black hole thoughts.
- Dwell on your true source of power and grace – your loving Creator. Pick a Scripture to dwell on that reminds you of the truth about yourself – defeat that false message!
Rather than letting yourself go down the rabbit hole of guilt and shame, give that black hole the smackdown with Romans 12:21.
These thoughts aren’t from the Holy Spirit. He wants me to pursue wholeness and peace.
He wants the same for you.
Defeat evil with good. You can do this, but only with God.
I’m cheering for you!
What helps you when you’re battling black hole thoughts? Let me know in the comments!