Overcoming Negative Thoughts

The Displacement Principle:

A battle plan for negative thoughts

Thought/Feeling Principles

  1. You are not a slave to your thoughts or your feelings. You can (by God’s grace) choose what to think about and what not to think about.
  2. Feelings are a result of thoughts, so you can change how you feel by changing how/what you think.
  3. All thoughts have a source. They are either from the enemy / flesh, or from God.
  4. Only the Word of God (Bible) is a reliable guide whereby you can ascertain whether a thought is from God or otherwise (Hebrews 4:12). So get to know your Bible, spend time reading, and learning how the Lord speaks and what He says.
  5. Using the Word of God, analyze each thought that comes into your mind and put it into one of two categories (1. From God. 2. From the enemy / flesh). If it fits into category 1, go ahead and think about that thought. If it fits into category 2, give that thought to the Lord and ask Him to purify the thought and return it to you pure, then choose a thought that definitely comes from God (a Bible promise, for example) and think upon that.

Specific Plan for Overcoming Negative Thoughts

  1. Pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you what negative thoughts you are having.
  2. Write down what comes to mind.
  3. Ask the Lord to show you what the underlying issue is behind that thought (fear or worry, unloved or unwanted, failure or defeat, guilt or shame, unworthiness or inadequacy, bitterness or anger, loneliness or abandonment, distrust or unbelief, selfishness, jealousy, pride, etc.)
  4. Search the Bible for a text that speaks powerfully to you about the truth that is opposite to your negative thought. (For example, if you have the negative thought, “I am unloved.” You could choose Jeremiah 31:3, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Or you could choose John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you have the negative thought, “I just can’t do it,” you could choose Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”)
  5. On a 3X5 card (or whatever you can carry with you everywhere you go) write down the Bible verse(s) that you have found, along with a short, pointed prayer. The prayer should acknowledge that you are thinking the negative thought, that God’s Word speaks the truth, and that you choose to think about and believe what God’s Word says (in the verse you wrote above the prayer). A simple format is: “Lord, thank you for giving me the truth of Your word. I choose to believe _________ (whatever the text promises) because You said so. Thank You for _____________ (accomplishing whatever the text promised).
  6. Any time you realize that you are thinking that negative thought (or something related to the underlying issue that you identified in #3), pull out your 3X5 card within 4 seconds and read the verse and prayer out loud.
  7. If you finish reading the promise and prayer and the negative thought comes right back, read it again. Concentrate upon what you are reading, and choose (with all the ability you have, trusting in the Lord to provide what you lack) to believe what you read. Keep repeating this until the negative thought or feeling goes away, or until you are distracted by something else (chores, phone call, work assignment, conversation, etc.). And when the negative thought comes back later, start back at #6.
  8. Ask the Lord to increase your sensitivity to Him, so that you can be aware that you are thinking the negative thoughts sooner and sooner in the process (when they have less strength and are easier to overcome), and with time you will recognize it just as it is starting and can defeat it easily using the above steps.


At the beginning of this process, you may not feel any different when you finish the Bible verse and the prayer, but don’t worry. Just trust the Lord that He is working in you even if you don’t feel like it. In the beginning, you will likely have the same negative thoughts come back right after you finish the verse/prayer. Just read through the verse/prayer again and give it over to God. You may have to do this time and time again in a short period of time at the beginning, but don’t give up. It gets easier over time.
As time progresses, the negative thoughts will become less powerful, easier to overcome, and will come to you less and less frequently. At the beginning you may have the negative thoughts constantly, but with time—and being faithful to go to the Word of God for your help—those negative thoughts will become a rare occurrence.
Do not give up! The enemy wants you to give up, and will make it as hard as possible for you to succeed. What he knows is that he cannot pry your fingers off of God and make you his prey. But he can tempt you (with negative thoughts, doubt, despair, etc.) to let go of God. He has done it so many times and has been successful nearly every time in the past. But now, it is time to develop new habits. As he tempts you to let go of God through the negative thoughts, and you go to the Word of God and prayer to overcome, you actually learn to hold on to God tighter with every negative thought. Instead of letting go, it causes you to hold on tighter! The devil hates that, because he knows that is the way to defeat Him. So, don’t give up. This is a fight for your life, so fight like it, and do not give in, no matter what. God will never let you fail as you hold on to Him and keep getting back up and running to His Word and to prayer. You will succeed!

Bible Promises for Negative Thoughts

Fear or worry –
  • Deuteronomy 1:21
  • Deuteronomy 31:6
  • Deuteronomy 31:8
  • 2 Kings 6:16
  • 1 Chronicles 22:13
  • Psalm 27:3
  • Psalm 46:1-3
  • Psalm 56:4
  • Psalm 118:6
  • Isaiah 41:10
  • Isaiah 41:13
  • Isaiah 43:1
  • Isaiah 54:14
  • Philippians 4:6
  • 2 Timothy 1:7
  • 1 John 4:18
Unloved or unwanted –
  • Jeremiah 31:3
  • John 3:16
Failure or defeat –
  • Philippians 4:13
Guilt or shame –
  • 1 John 1:9
Unworthiness or inadequacy –
Bitterness or anger –
  • Ephesians 4:31-32
Loneliness or abandonment –
  • Hebrews 13:5
Distrust or unbelief –
  • Mark 9:23-24
  • Mark 11:23-24
  • Mark 16:16
  • John 1:7
  • John 6:29
  • John 6:40
  • John 6:47
  • John 14:29
  • John 20:31
  • Romans 10:9-10
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13
  • Hebrews 11:6
  • 1 John 3:23
  • 1 John 5:1
  • 1 John 5:13
Selfishness –