Getting free from sticky thoughts

It was the end of a long day and long days often leave me feeling very tired and depleted of energy. Those nagging nasty thoughts started to get the upper hand. You know the ones I mean: This will never change. She always does that. He doesn’t understand. No one cares…. We all have our own little set of ugly thoughts that rear their heads when we feel overwhelmed or pushed aside or misunderstood.

It would be one thing if these troublesome thoughts just passed through our minds and kept on going, but somehow, at least sometimes, they get caught. They become sticky thoughts, patterns of reflection that have an emotionally-heavy content to them that weighs us down. Thoughts like these become sticky traps, like glue boards that we use to catch rodents who have made their nest in our house. We become caught in the cycle of negativity (and at times nastiness or hopelessness), trapped by the stickiness that won’t let these thoughts be released…won’t let our hearts be freed from their deadening weight.

So that night I was thinking about why we keep holding on to these sticky thoughts with a vice grip. And I discovered three reasons. We’ve been convinced that:

  1. These sticky thoughts make complete sense to our rational mind and our ego that believes (at least sometimes) that we’re better, others don’t get it, someone else should pay for what they did to us.
  2. Nasty thoughts are a poison and to save ourselves from their toxicity we share them with others. We convince ourselves even more of their truthfulness and create a facade of falseness we need to keep up.
  3. When we share our negative stories about others, ourself, and situations we cause others to think negatively. It becomes a snowball racing down a hill that we can’t stop because it is impossible to take back words once spoken.

Definitely the pattern of the elder brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Into this examen, into this image which represents the distorted falseness of my heart, comes the person of Jesus. He is dusting. Cleaning. Rearranging. Happy. Humming. Non-possessive. It isn’t a big deal to him, this sticky mess that is a big deal to me. He knows it will be different when he’s through.

What does Jesus know that I forget?

“Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm has already been lavished upon us as a love gift from our wonderful heavenly Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus—all because he sees us wrapped into Christ. This is why we celebrate him with all our hearts! And he chose us to be his very own, joining us to himself even before he laid the foundation of the universe! Because of his great love, he ordained us, so that we would be seen as holy in his eyes with an unstained innocence” (Ephesians 1:3-4 TPT).

Jesus can remove me gently from my sticky captivating thoughts, because he reveals to me who I am.

These types of thoughts charged with the energy of the passions tend to boast a power that deflects us from our basic goodness which is God’s gift to us—”he sees us wrapped into Christ.”

Both the elder brother and the younger son of the loving Father in the Parable of the Prodigal remind us that we need to remember that we have been lavished with sonship, chosen to be the Father’s very own, seen as holy in his eyes with an unstained innocence.

Jesus, the One who recreates and rehabilitates the sticky mess of my life, now possesses me.

I belong to him, as St Paul says:

“If you have really experienced the Anointed One, and heard his truth, it will be seen in your life; for we know that the ultimate reality is embodied in Jesus! And he has taught you to let go of the lifestyle of the ancient man, the old self – life, which was corrupted by sinful and deceitful desires that spring from delusions. Now it’s time to be made new by every revelation that’s been given to you. And to be transformed as you embrace the glorious Christ-within as your new life and live in union with him! For God has re-created you all over again in his perfect righteousness, and you now belong to him in the realm of true holiness. So discard every form of dishonesty and lying so that you will be known as one who always speaks the truth, for we all belong to one another” (Ephesians 4:21-25 TPT)

We humans have a negativity bias, meaning the bad things that we see, hear, and experience far outweigh the positive and pleasurable experiences. My angry reaction to a perceived slight will stick with me longer than my meditation on being the delight of the Lord. The negative and nasty things we remember make it just about impossible to see beyond to what is most true about ourselves and others, the goodness that is most truly who we are. If we know that this is true about the human mind and heart, it is only an intentional focusing of our thoughts and leaps of the heart on what is most true that will yield happiness and holiness in our lives.

To intentionally focus on the freeing power of truth, here are some tips:

  1. End the day by listing three positive and delightful things that happened in your life and in the lives of those around you.
  2. When you notice any nasty negativeness immediately replace it by stating what is true, “I believe you, Jesus, are here.” “I know that you are in him/her at this very moment. Show me.”
  3. Go a step further and say to someone you are interiorly having a difficult time appreciating one thing you want them to know about themselves that is truly a gift they are sharing with others.

It doesn’t take much energy to be negative. That can easily come about without us lifting a finger. Appreciative watchfulness and intentional kindness take effort. At least at first. Once appreciation and delightful kindness begin to flow through our thoughts and heart, it will easily wash away the negativity, and our hearts, our relationships, and our health will once again flourish.

Feel free to let me know how this touched you in the comments below.

From my heart to yours,
Sr Kathryn


God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 6 ways you can join me on the journey:

  1. Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST
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  3. Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace.  Enroll in the free 5-day email series introducing Reclaim Regret.
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15 thoughts on “Getting free from sticky thoughts

  1. Thank you! What you wrote was beautiful and up lifting . So , true. We need to be more positive in our thoughts. Being in God’s presence before the Blessed Sacrament helps me feel much better on a daily basis .
    Thank you again !


  2. This was just what I needed this morning. My favorite fall-back line is: What’s the use???
    Lately, I’ve been saying it a lot.
    What’s the use of making novenas?
    What’s the use of praying?
    What’s the use of trying?
    What’s the use?
    God reward you, Sister, for writing this.


  3. Sister, your articles, and those of other sisters on this site have been used by God so many times to lift me up, encourage me, and teach me! This particular article is one that we need to read, at least once a week, because it’s so easy to forget these teachings, and fall into “righteous” anger at someone or some situation that has done us wrong, at least this happens with me! Thank you for your service in the Lord, and how much you have encouraged me in my walk with God!


  4. I haven’t read a piece of yours, yet, that does not reflect thoughts I’ve had and knowing that even a sister has these thoughts allows me to realize that I am not alone in such thoughts. While I know religious are human, too, knowing is one thing, to see is another. God still loves you as a religious with such feelings and thoughts, so there must be hope for me.


  5. A lady at church invited me to a barbecue a few weeks ago. When she saw me in church recently she asked did I forget i didn’t attend. She never gave me her address, what time, or a reminder. I felt slighted, hurt, and purposely left out. I was stuck. Thanks for unsticking me.


  6. Thank you sister,

    Just what I needed to hear. I sometimes find it easy to put people in boxes by defining them by some negative trait. However it makes the world an uglier place. Thanks for helping me get unstuck from the negativity. Keep up your good work. God bless you.


  7. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this article with us. It is timely advice for me. I am stuck and even sometimes I suppose, feel trapped, in the situation I’m in right now–in fact the times I’m determined to change things and make things better in my life (mostly when I’ve asked for help from others) have all fallen through. I get up every morning wondering why, to God, I’m in the situation I am, one I did not plan and do not want because it affects my physical, mental, emotional and sometimes spiritual health and well-being negatively. I’m at my wit’s end. I need help.
    I will try your suggestions you outlined above in your article; when I am able I pray the divine office and then also pray everyday. I have an especially hard time praying in the morning, but sometimes after a particularly distressing day, sometimes I am overwhelmed and have trouble getting into a good frame of mind to pray to God in the evenings. Although I don’t know if God cares either way what frame of mind I’m in, just as long as I pray. Take care, thank you, Racheal


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