How to Overcome Negative Thoughts That Keep You Stuck

Driving is the mosh pit of the ghetto. Being strapped in a car on those rickety streets is like being hand-cuffed in the center of a crowd during a never-ending breakdown. They toss out potholes like fliers that lay scattered about after a show. They handed the chalk to the drunk and let him draw the lane markers.


Maybe they do this to toughen you up, so when you get out of your car, you aren’t so scared. Whatever the reason, it didn’t work on me. When I got to Josh’s house, I was shaking in my boots.


This was my first meeting with my 12 step sponsor, and I was afraid.

hello my name is

Not because of the ghetto neighborhood I had to navigate through. Not because of the dudes selling drugs on the corner. Not because of the shady walk to his door. I was scared because of something else.


He led me to his living room where the enormity of his TV mocked me, and his couch swallowed me whole when I sat down in it. I felt my fear grip me as if the arms of the sofa had wrapped around my chest. Each breath got caught before it could fully expand, and each breath shot another jolt of anxiety through my body. But there was no undoing it now. I couldn’t leave even if I tried. I felt like a hostage.


He opened us in prayer which gave me some time to exhale some of my panic. But as the meeting progressed, I couldn’t shake the question my fear had been nagging me to ask. It felt silly and almost childish when it fell out of my lips, but I asked anyways:


“Does this 12 step thing work for everyone?”


Even when he answered, I had already made some kind of subconscious decision that I was going to be the one person it didn’t work for. I was going to be an addict forever. I was going to stay stuck. And any time I had success, that thought choked me out just like his couch  did, and I started to anticipate when I would be disappointed next because I believed I was doomed to fail.


These negative thoughts we either consciously or subconsciously agree with keep us stuck. It’s like our bodies won’t let us do what our minds don’t believe. And if we think that we’re going to stay addicted, that we’re worthless, that we’re fat, that we’re trouble-makers, that we’re depressed, that we’re failures, that we can’t, that we’re not good enough, that we’re nothing, then we make it a whole heck of a lot harder on ourselves to change that. (I shared another personal story with my own negative thoughts and explained more about why they keep us stuck here.)


The good news is that your negative thoughts don’t have to keep you stuck! But you have to start doing something different:


PRACTICE BELIEVING in the reality you want as if it’s already happened.




If you want to stop masturbating, tell yourself something like, “I’m 10-years free from masturbation. I don’t even remember what it’s like to want to masturbate because it’s been 3,700 days since I did it last. My deepest desire is purity, and I make daily decisions to uphold that.”


Here’s how you create those kinds of beliefs:


  • Imagine whatever it is in your life that’s keeping you stuck. Whether it’s doubts or depression or anxiety or masturbation or self-worth or anger or failing classes or drugs or alcohol or sex or porn.
  • Let all of those things go as you re-imagine what your life would be like as you live life to the FULL–ten out of ten!
  • Write down some words that describe that reality, and change those into present-tense statements that describe you as if you were living at a ten out of ten right now. (Instead of writing “I could be” or “I will be”, write “I AM”…)
  • Say it out loud when you wake up. Say it out loud when you get tempted to believe or do otherwise. Say it out loud when you go to bed.
  • Make the decision that you’re going to practice believing this.
  • Develop a discipline of actively believing that you can. Because that’s the truth. It’s OKAY if you don’t believe it yet! Remember…it takes practice.


How can you overcome your addiction or your hangup or your habit if you don’t actually believe it’s possible for you? It is. Practice believing it. Let your new positive thoughts drive you in the direction you want to be going because they will help you get unstuck and help you live that ten-out-of-ten life you imagined.


You can do this. I believe in you. We believe in you.


What negative thought are you trying to overcome? Share with us in the comment section below.


Note: this isn’t ‘fake it till you make it’. Rather, this is accepting that you’re God’s masterpiece. He spent the beginning of eternity thinking of how best to make you. And when He did, He didn’t screw up or short-stack you. He created you with uniqueness and strength and purpose that only you have. No one else that ever was or is or will be could be or do you better than you can. And when He was done creating you, He said, “This is it! I couldn’t do any better than this. I wouldn’t change a single thing. It’s the best I could have done. This is my masterpiece.” You already have everything it takes and everything you need. You just have to believe it, and you’ll watch yourself begin to do what you thought was impossible.  You got this.

Showing 12 comments
  • kendall orton

    Thank you for this article! We’re bundles of potential. I’ve worked my whole life to try and develop this believing, proactive attitude. While I’m nowhere near where I want to be, one thing I do to get myself going for any day is start it with a smile–I’ve found the first battles I have to win are the ‘darn, it’s the beginning of another day’s and ‘there’s that dang alarm clock again’s. It’s something my dad taught me and it’s worked miracles in how I face the day and the opportunities therein. A smile is like free medicine! The things I struggle with on a daily basis seem so easy to the challenges others face, but I know that God will help each of us overcome the world if we really want to get closer to Him.

    A member of my congregation wrote this piece about his relationship with God and what He sees in us. I liked it. I invite you to check it out here

    • Nate Hilpert

      The morning battle is definitely a tough one. But it’s one of the most important ones because it sets a tone for the rest of your day! Winning your morning–yes, definitely with a smile–is a key to success and overcoming!

      Thanks for sharing the article. Remembering God is our dad is a great perspective through which to view our relationship.

  • observer22

    What negative thoughts are you trying to overcome?
    The thought that i don´t matter and i´m worthless. That i´m not good enough to do
    certain things. That i will be trapped in my physical illness and become so disabled
    that i´m unable to work.

    I have made some improvement about those thoughts-i have attempted challenges,
    i have not succeeded in all of my pursuits but in some i have.
    I don´t have to be perfect.Failing at things is part of life.

    When is the 12 Step program thru HS is planned to start ?

    • Nate Hilpert

      Yeah, I definitely struggle with similar thoughts of inadequacy. I feel ya there…
      Have you tried making a list of beliefs as counterparts to those lies? If so, would you write those to me? And if not, are you willing to create one?

      Yeah, I love that thought…”Failing at things is part of life”. Actually, reacting to failure appropriately determines progress, growth, and success! It’s great that you’ve got your mind around that already. It’s something I’m learning right now.
      What pursuits have you been successful at? Which ones have you failed?

      Soon! I don’t have a specific date for you yet, but I’m writing a business plan right now about small groups and 12 step groups.

      • Jeremy Boxerman

        Oh, the 12-step program will be starting through HeartSupport? It’s been lingering in the back of my mind ever since I read an article from Jake mentioning it. I’d be interested in checking that out!

        • Nate Hilpert

          Absolutely dude! I’m pumped you’re excited for the 12 steps! They were life-changing for me. You’ll definitely hear about it when it happens 😉

  • OscarGareskog

    I’m trying to overcome the thought that I can’t stop making these impure thoughts poppin up in my mind, and stop masturbating. That I can’t fight it, and it’s better to give in…

    • Nate Hilpert

      Yeah I definitely resonate with those thoughts. What did you take away from this blog about those?

      • OscarGareskog

        I swallowed it all man!! I took those steps very concrete and it has helped me alot so far!

        • Nate Hilpert

          that’s AWESOME! What’s your list of present-tense, affirming beliefs?

  • Nick

    I struggling with the thought of is someone really my friend when they get upset every time i try to talk to them about being a depressed. The fact that i question peoples friendship has lost me friends. I hate it.

  • MoxieG

    I have been seeing someone for two year and my lack of communication skills is killing our relationship as well as our friendship. We have been friends for over 14 years. I was in a 6 year abusive relationship. Because I was made to feel and believe that my feeling and myself are worthless. I now struggle overcoming anxiety, and fear. I cant seem leave the past behind and move forward. Its hard for me to express my feeling and thought because I feel that they mean nothing to anyone. In other words how can I also overcome the negative aspect I have of myself.

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