20 Toxic Ways of Thinking That Will Poison Your Life

Do you have a toxic list poisoning your life?

We’ve been having a little fun with the lists here on the blog.  We started out with humorous confessions of a reluctant list maker.  I bared my soul revealing my love/hate relationship with lists, organization, and productivity. Then we ventured into the dark side of your list. When we begin to serve our list, we’ve entered the dark side.  Do we define the value of our day or measure our worth  based how many items we’ve checked off our list?

Then there are the lists we don’t talk about.

There’s a kind of list we all keep, the kind we don’t like to admit. Some lists we rarely talk about, but they can consume a great deal of emotional real estate in our inner thoughts.

You won’t find this list posted on the refrigerator with a cute magnet. These are the unspoken lists that are corrosive to our spiritual, emotional, or relational well being.

Do you struggle with toxic thinking that impacts your spiritual, relational, and emotional well being? Learn to identify 20 ways of toxic thinking and stop negative thinking cold.

Tucked away out of sight, we can hold onto our toxic list with an iron grip. Sometimes we keep records against ourselves.

Have you thought about the kind of the lists that tear you down? In spite of  your accomplishments and talents, do you keep a list of all the things you think are wrong with you? The ways you never seen to measure up?

Squirreled away in the nooks and crannies of our hearts are the lists we keep on other people–ways they have hurt us, let us down, or offended us. We keep records of wrongs while overlooking our own shortcomings.

Consider the different kinds of lists we keep and the ways toxic thinking negatively impacts our lives. Each item on this list is a way of thinking that will poison our lives.

Do you struggle with toxic thinking that impacts your spiritual, relational, and emotional well being? Learn to identify 20 ways of toxic thinking and stop negative thinking cold.

This is hard stuff, isn’t it?

These are just a few of the poisonous thinking patterns that rattle in our heads, hissing with resentments, feeding doubt. Discouragement slithers like snakes in the wet grass of emotions.

Toxic lists reflect the negative thinking and the coping ways of hurting hearts. They can seethe with silent resentment behind a smile, turn pride into a fortress of anger, or stifle growth with rampant insecurity.

Just last night at dinner I had a discouraging conversation that tempted me to doubt myself. It only took a moment for my thoughts to reach down into my heart and pull up one of my toxic lists. One by one, I began to mentally list the situations that seem to show that my work will never amount to anything. Reasons why I’ll never be, can’t ever do…

Your list may look different from mine, but we all battle with toxic thinking.

Even as my conversation unfolded, I caught myself pulling up an old, painful list. I prayed, “Lord, I give you my list. Help me to not give into the temptation to dive into the pit of toxic thinking. Tonight I choose to trust you and not give into my emotions.”

Isaiah 431-2

This morning I shared out my concerns with God. “Lord, show me what is true. Tell me what you think.” Opening my Bible, these are the first words I saw:

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
“For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…
 “Since you are precious in My sight,
Since you are honored and I love you… (Isaiah 43:1-4).

God reminds me that I am secure, called, loved by His choice. This is the opinion that matters most. When the waters of emotions and confusion rise, He whispers I am not alone. When the heat of my self-doubts accuse, I will not be burned. His word trumps the false power of my list.

Learning to identify the kinds of toxic thinking is the first step to overcome the mental trap of negative thinking. Pay attention to your thoughts, and don’t give negative thoughts free reign.

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Is one of these toxic ways of thinking poisoning your life? Leave a comment and let’s encourage and support on another in this area we all struggle with.

Linking with these lovely blogging communities: Grace and Truth, Testimony Tuesday, and #RaRALinkUp.


  1. Ginger Harrington

    I’d love for all your wonderful gals to read. This is a challenge we all face but rarely discuss. Blessings friend!

  2. A few years ago I remember saying/thinking “I’ve never had someone give me a ‘word’.” Well, a young lady came up and quoted Isaiah 43 to me and I thought – how strange I’m not going through any trials. Well, that year my brother died suddenly and my marriage hit a real low. I thank God that His Word is true and faithful. It can be our stronghold. When we remember that God says we’re precious and has called us by name, we will overcome whatever trials this life can throw at us. Thank you for reminding me of that today. Great post!

    • Ginger Harrington

      I’m thankful God speaks to us through His Word and through other believers. He speaks in other ways, but these are the one’s I notice the most in my life. What a treasure we have in God’s word. Thanks for joining the conversation today, Cynthia! Be blessed and have a wonderful weekend.

  3. Love this, Ginger. Isaiah 43 is one of my go-to verses. It often helps me take toxic thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ — which is an ongoing journey for me. Thank you!

    • Ginger Harrington

      It always brings a smile to my face when I see your lovely face pop up, Cathy! These Isaiah verses have strengthened my heart many times. Taking our unhealthy thoughts to Christ and replacing them with truth makes such a difference. You’re right, it is an ongoing journey. Blessings, Friend!

  4. Beautiful post, Ginger! Remembering who we truly are in God’s eyes helps keep toxic thinking at bay!

    • Ginger Harrington

      I like the way you put that, Liz. Remembering we are forgiven by God empowers us to forgive others. Remembering we are loved by God strengthens us to let go our toxic thoughts when we feel unloved by others or by ourselves. Take care, Liz!

  5. Thank you, for this words of hope and encouragement. God bless you.

    • Ginger Harrington

      Welcome, Martha. I’m so glad this post was an encouragement to you. May God give you gentle reminders to let go of negative thinkings right when you need it most.

  6. Ginger:
    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve come to a point in my life where I have to decide to either dwell on what I’ve lost and on my grief, or believe God and trust His plan for me and the unfolding testimony. This reminds me to listen to truth and dwell on God’s word, and not my own thoughts and “lists”. Your words are so true.

    • Ginger Harrington

      I love that you call it a decision–what you will choose to dwell on. For me, it has been easy to slip into the bad habit of letting emotions drive my thoughts, following blindly where they lead. In Christ, we have power over our thoughts and emotions. What an extraordinary gift we have to have the mind of Christ dwelling within us. I am learning to life this out in practical ways and choosing to let go of my lists has been one of those ways. Praying for you and your family as you get settled in your new home. You are a precious sister and I’ll miss doing ministry with you. I’m praying for an opportunity to come visit/speak in Oki:)

  7. We do need to practice bringing every thought captive under Christ’s authority! This isn’t an easy habit to get into, but when we do, we experience such wonderful joy!
    Thanks for sharing on Grace and Truth.

    • Ginger Harrington

      I like the way you talk about bring our thoughts to Christ as a habit. Negative thinking can really sneak up on you. Thanks for joining the conversation today:)

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