- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: WaterBrook (January 28, 2020)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1601429649
- ISBN-13: 978-1601429643
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Customer Reviews:
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Get Out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts Hardcover – January 28, 2020
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About the Author
Jennie Allen is the founder and visionary behind IF:Gathering, an organization that equips women to know God more deeply and to disciple others in their own lives. Through simulcasts and live events, IF has reached more than one million women in nearly two hundred countries and has seven thousand women leading in-person gatherings around the world. A popular podcaster and sought-after speaker, Jennie has taught at Women of Faith, Catalyst, Q Conference, and Send (North American Mission Board), as well as some of the largest churches in North America. She is the author of several books and study guides, including Restless, Anything, and Nothing to Prove. Jennie has a master’s degree in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Zac, live in Dallas, Texas, with their children.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
All the Thoughts
Thinking About Thinking
“Take every thought captive.” They say authors write books for two reasons: either the author is an expert on the subject, or the subject makes the author desperate enough to spend years finding the answers. The latter most definitely describes me.
This morning I woke up intending to write to you. But first, I thought, I need to spend time with God. So what did I do? I picked up my phone. I noticed an email about something I was working on, in which the sender was “constructively” critical of my work. Just as I decided to set my phone down, something else stole my attention…and the next thing I knew, I was on Instagram, noticing others’ wins and glories contrasted with my work in process that seemed to not be measuring up. In minutes with my phone, I decided that I was an inadequate writer, I was spending my life chasing things that mean nothing because I am nothing, I have nothing to say. I was spiraling fast into discouragement.
Then my husband, Zac, came in happy, having just met with God, and I snapped at him. My spiral began to spin faster and more chaotically. In less than an hour, I had diminished myself, criticized all my work, decided to quit ministry, ignored God, and pushed away my greatest advocate and friend.
Wow. Brilliant, Jennie. And that was only this morning? And now you want to try to help me with my chaotic thoughts?
Well, I hear you. And I imagine all my life I will be in process with this. But because of the discoveries I get to share with you here, instead of my spiral stealing a day, a week, a few years…just an hour into it, there was a shift in my thinking.
I did not stay paralyzed. I am free and joyful and writing to you.
I want you to know that you do not have to stay stuck either. God built a way for us to escape the downward spiral. But we rarely take it. We have bought the lie that we are victims of our thoughts rather than warriors equipped to fight on the front lines of the greatest battle of our generation: the battle for our minds.
The apostle Paul understood the war that takes place in our thoughts, how our circumstances and imaginations can become weapons that undermine our faith and hope. The Bible records his bold declaration that we are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
Take every thought captive? Is that possible? Have you ever tried?
Once a bird flew into our tiny house and wouldn’t fly out. It took more than an hour for our whole family working together to catch that silly little sparrow. Shooting the bird with a BB gun? Easy. But capturing the wild sparrow flailing through our house was an altogether-different task, a nearly impossible one.
How much more impossible to capture a wild thought on the fly? Yet the book I build my life on is telling me to captureall my thoughts, every one of them?
Is God serious?
Is this even possible? Because honestly my thoughts run wilder than that hyperactive sparrow.
And yours do too. I see the same wild chaos in your eyes and those of nearly every woman I meet. Like the young woman in so much pain who sat across from me this week, drowning in anxiety she has been fighting for two years. She looked at me, pleading, “Help. Tell me what to do!”
“I don’t want to live anxious,” she said. “I’m in counseling. I’m in Bible study. I’m willing to take medicine. I want to trust God. Why can’t I change? Why do I feel so stuck in this?”
Goodness, I relate and have fought the same thing.
It’s incredible, if you think about it: How can something we can’t see control so much of who we are, determine what we feel and what we do and what we say or don’t, dictate how we move or sleep, and inform what we want, what we hate, and what we love?
How can the thing that houses all those thoughts—just a bunch of folded tissue—contain so much of what makes us who we are?
Learning to capture our thoughts matters. Because how we think shapes how we live.
The Patterns That Keep Us Stuck
The subject of neuroscience has captivated me for years now, ever since one of my brilliant daughters began educating me on the science of the brain. When Kate, now a junior in high school, was in the seventh grade, she came home from school one afternoon and announced to the rest of us—her two brothers, her sister, my husband, Zac, and me—that she was going to cure Alzheimer’s disease someday.
We smiled, but years later she still is reading books and articles on the subject, listening to every TED Talk on the brain, sharing research with me. Things like…
Did you know that more has been discovered about our minds in the last twenty years than in all the time before that?
Did you know that an estimated 60 to 80 percent of visits to primary-care physicians have a stress-related component?
Did you know that research shows that “75 to 98 percent of mental, physical, and behavioral illness comes from one’s thought life”?
Did you know that, with what we know about the brain today, when Scripture is talking about the heart, it really could be talking about the mind and the emotions we experience in our brains?
Well, no, Kate, I did not. But that’s very interesting.
The truth is, it is very interesting to me.
Somewhere along the way, Kate’s fascination became mine too. Because she taught me that what she is learning in science is also scattered throughout my Bible and many of the truths in the Bible concerning our thought lives have been backed up by science. This all became increasingly important to me as I became gripped by the idea that taking control of our minds could be the key to finding peace in the other parts of our lives.
For several years I’d been in deep running IF:Gathering, the organization I believe God prompted me to start to disciple women and equip them to go disciple others. I loved our community, our gatherings, and the impact we seemed to be having, but over time I noticed a troubling trend among the women I loved and served every day.
Women would feel conviction at an event or as they worked through our discipleship resources, and they were surrendering their lives more fully to Jesus. They would soar on the wings of that resolve for a week, a month, sometimes a year or even two. But inevitably at some point they’d slip back into old habits, old patterns of doing life. Maybe you know exactly what I mean.
Maybe right now you’re thinking of that toxic relationship you finally got out of but then, in a weak moment, resumed.
Or you finally found peace about a less-than-desirable season of your life—but now your emotions have spiraled downward again, and all you do is complain.
Or you were convicted about your porn habit and stopped, only to slip back into the habit weeks later.
Or you recognized a pattern of being critical of your spouse, surrendered it, and truly started to change…just before you circled back to where you began.
Why, I wondered, don’t the changes so many women desperately want to make stick over the long haul?
And why did I still struggle with some of the same fears, negative patterns, and other sins that I had been fighting for years?
Even as I observed this boomerang effect at a broad level, I was also in relationship with dear friends, women I knew well, who seemed to battle the same issues year after year. Each time we’d get together, I’d hear the same song, five hundredth verse.
What prevented them from thriving? Why couldn’t they get unstuck? Kate’s discoveries as she continued to study the brain suggested one strong possibility:
It’s all in our heads.
Breaking the Spiral
There is much we don’t know about the brain. What’s also true: we’ve learned more about the brain in the past twenty years than we knew for the previous two thousand. We once thought of the mind as an immutable thing. The brain you were born with and the way it worked—or didn’t—were just “how it was”; no sense fretting over what can’t be changed. We now know thatthe brain is constantly changing, whether or not we intend for it to.
In hopes of discovering how women can break free from our problematic patterns, I started picking up heady books about the mind and about neuroscience and about how real change occurs. I watched TED Talks that Kate pointed me toward about our brain’s plasticity.
I listened to brainy podcasts.
I watched brainy documentaries.
I talked to brainy people.
I began to see a pattern at work in many of us. Our emotions were leading us to thoughts, and those thoughts were dictating our decisions, and our decisions were determining behaviors, and then the behaviors were shaping our relationships, all of which would take us back to either healthy or unhealthy thoughts.
Round and round and round we go, spinning down, seemingly out of control, our lives becoming defined by this endless cycle:
Emotion • Thought • Behavior • Relationships • Consequence
Unless. Unless there is a way to interrupt it.
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If you ever struggle with your thought life, READ THIS BOOK! There is HOPE!
I have my BA and a graduate diploma in Psychology and Biblical Studies so it was refreshing to read a book that so beautifully married the two. Allen approaches overcoming toxic thoughts from a cognitive behavioral perspective, proven to work through endless research, and faith in a God that we can rely on. These two things are, from my personal experience and that of countless others, the most beneficial way to overcome toxic thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
Her personal story about struggling in her faith really hit me, as I’ve also been walking through that in the last six months.
I highly recommend this book, am gifting it to all my best friends, and will be reading this again and again.
Jennie is so real throughout the entire book. She shares the deep, dark of her own struggle that led to the development of this book. And that is where the hope and encouragement starts! There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s Jesus. This is definitely a must-have book for everyone. I’m deeply grateful that the Lord provided Jennie the words to write, to share the depths of fighting for our minds.
Jennie takes us from recognizing the feeling or root behind our thoughts to making a choice and changing out thoughts using God's Word and Truths.
In Part 2 of the book she details several choices we can make for example- I choose to be still with God and I choose to Seek the Good of Others to stop the downward spiral of our negative/wayward thoughts. Jennie is open and honest about her struggle with anxiety and her thought life. The book has diagrams showing how a thought cam spiral out of control and also what a difference choosing to catch and change our thoughts in a positive way can make in our behavior and attitude. As this is an area I struggle in, along with anxiety and depression I found this book useful and will be rereading it and applying the principles in my life. I recommend this book for everyone especially people who struggle with self-defeating thoughts, anxiety, depression, or other negative thoughts in life. I received an advanced copy of this book for my honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Jennie Allen has helped me so much with 1 line from her book, “I have a choice”! No more do I have to allow thoughts to control my emotions, my day, or my relationship with God, others and myself. Finding out that others have been through the same thing as I have helped me so much and I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone who has been beating themselves up in their mind.
My Bible time and quiet time have been more focused and I can pull what I am learning throughout my day thanks to the tools provided because I have a choice!
Thank you, Jennie!
Top international reviews
The book starts reflecting on one of my favourite verses from Romans 12:2 - "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind". This is what Jesus desires for us when we enter into relationship with Him. It's only through a mind transformation that we can become more like Him and lead a life to His glory.
The book is split into three sections:
1. All the Thoughts - this is a series of chapters on the various ways we get imprisoned by our thoughts
2. Taking Down the Enemies of Our Minds - this provides practical solutions to stopping the thoughts
3. Thinking as Jesus Thinks - 2 short chapters on validating our identity in Christ and using Scripture to transform the negative thoughts.
There were some really good sections (Chapter 12 was a personal favourite). I found some of the real life examples Allen used were a bit weak in illustrating some of her points and I thought there could have been a bit more substance to Section 3.
This is a very timely and important book that will, I'm sure, help many people (Men and women) to lean in closer to Jesus to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in transforming our minds.
Wenn du dich mal wieder dabei ertappst, dass deine Gedanken sich wie in einer Endlosspirale weiter drehen und du dem ein Ende setzen möchtest, dann schnapp dir dieses Buch.