How to stop those scandalous thoughts in your head

photo by Bruce McKay Yellow Snow

I’m going through my day and suddenly an uninvited thought slips into my mind.

You know what I’m talking about–it happens to you too.

At church.

In a meeting.

While you’re trying to type a blog post.

Suddenly something you never want to think is right there in the middle of your little head.

And the more you try not to think about it, the more you do.

Yes, ma’am.

It could be a word you don’t usually say, a doubt that has never popped up in before, an unkind observation.

You think, “How could I think this? What is the matter with me?” You wonder if you’re a fraud. What would everyone think if they knew? And God does know, what is He thinking? You whisper a quick prayer for forgiveness and carry on with your day…only to have it happen again.

Here’s the good news: you’re human. This happens to all of us. And as long as we’re on this side of eternity it’s going to continue.

Yes, we can choose our response. A silly {but wise} old saying goes like this…

You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head but you don’t have to let it build a nest in your hair!

You are going to get dive bombed by thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere. When that happens, what do you do?

Well, I’ll tell you my little trick. I talk to that loony bird.

As believers, that bird is our flesh. When you gave your life to Jesus, this became true of you…

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. {Gal. 2:20}

But the old you is still circling and looking for a place to land.

That leads to the unwelcome thoughts {in other words, temptation–which even Jesus faced}. When this happens, I have started saying this to that bird: “Flesh, you’re dead and no one is listening to you.” Then I say to Jesus something like, “I’m so glad we got rid of that bird. It’s crazy.” Then I carry on with my day.

Those thoughts aren’t you {at least not the real you}. So you don’t need to beat yourself up for them or spend time trying to figure out what in the world is the matter with you and how could you be such a bad person and Sunday School Susie certainly wouldn’t think that and now the day is ruined because you can’t believe what you just thought.

Sometimes I even laugh a little when I say those words because, really, my flesh can be quite creative. And ridiculous. And out of its little bird brain.

Yours too?

Let’s decide together that we won’t be bullied by that bird anymore. Instead we can shoo it away and get on with our day–with all God has for us. He’s made us who we need to be and given us all we need to complete His purposes for our lives right now and always.

Now there’s a welcome thought.



  1. Nancy says

    Absolutely! Romans 6:14 tells how the finished work of Christ on the cross, changed everything. The Bible/NT/new covenant is clear that He’s the only one who fulfilled the whole law perfectly on our behalf and we are now empowered and freed by grace to walk and live by the Spirit, as we look to Jesus and (we get to) trust His goodness and love for ea. of us.

    “Sin shall no longer have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

  2. says

    Oh Holley. PERFECT timing.
    Monday was horrid. I still hear the voice playing over and over; horrid things to say, true and untrue, but like word vomit that won’t stop.
    And those words keep coming in quiet moments, so I remembered a tool I used during a time that one of my children was trying on his prodigal shoes…and speak the name of Jesus, out loud, over and over.
    It breaks the power of satan in that moment. Gives God authority. Helps me cling to Him.
    It works.
    Your words help too!! It will remain in my inbox for special repeat viewing. I’m going to make note cards with these scriptures on them. Place them around my house.
    Thanks SO much (and praise God for His timing of this!!)

  3. Patti says

    Wow – this has been happening alot to me lately (really embarrassing at times too!) so – as usual – your devotion today couldn’t have been more timely!

    Thanks so much Holley!

  4. says

    Oh I needed this so much right now!! I was thinking about something and wasn’t listening to my Hubby. He said, Hey, what are you thinking about? I could have died right there. I just smiled and said I can’t say in front of my daughter. That was a quick out.

    Thanks for sharing. I am so glad that I am not the only one.

  5. says

    Oh, yes, Holley. This is wonderful. I struggle with my thoughts and then the guilt from having them. I’m going to use your method now, dear. I know that He is strong.

  6. Donna Petersen says

    I went through a health crisis months ago and now have been spending way too much time worrying — as always Holley your words are a light to my path. Thank you and bless you.
    Keep the positives coming.

  7. Emily says

    Thank you! I love all of your posts! This one really hit me, I do beat myself up when those thoughts enter, thanks for reminding me I’m human, and the advice to move on! Em

  8. says

    Wow! Thank you holley its like u new my thought today ,but I know its the spirit of god speaking t
    To me through you! Yesterday I received a discouraging letter from my union for a grievence that I was fighting @ work and union denied it I was totally angry because I used to be union steward and I know that this issue is violation according to contract,so all kinds of negative thoughts came to my mind thinking okay god I don’t know where to go from this point I need your help! I felt totally defeated! So I decided to start another fast because I need answers,then god reminded me that no weapons formed against me shall prosper! And w/god before me nothing can stand against me! Anyways thank you for the reminder ,have a great. Week Suzy

  9. Becky Jones says

    The old devil likes to sit in our minds if we allow. He brings words and thoughts up that at times we would never even think about using. Aren’t we so glad to have a Savior in our dear Lord Jesus to comfort and tell what is the right things to think and say. Makes you want to go to your Bible and read what God wants us to do.

  10. Celeste Hill says

    His Timing Perfect,

    As I rolled around in bed last night bombarded with horrible thoughts (felt like my brain had multiple conversations going at once) I made the choice to lay my hand onto my hubby’s back and pray, rejoice and say the name of The One and Only Jesus, Jesus, Jesus over and over again.

    He does it for me every time and I am refusing in His power to let today be one of defeat. He has brought the victory and I am basking in it.

    Praying for all these sisters on this blog today we are His daughers, His workmanship, created in His Image to do good things for His Kingdom, Amen.

  11. says

    Thanks Holley! We need to remind ourselves this and not go to guilt and shame on me all the time. God is in us and we are not defeated–but victorious.

    Since I love birds, I would choose to change it to a hornet. Those nasty things!
    Bless you!

  12. says

    Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! God Thing. Way cool. I JUST used that very Scripture in my manuscript, when referencing what I have to actively do when I suddenly get (as you say) dive-bombed. Thank you, Holley!! I love when God reaffirms like this. xo

  13. Lynn Bowman says

    Holley, thank you for keeping your posts so relevant and real! I love the helpful tips you give for dealing with those ‘scandalous’ thoughts. So glad to know I’m not alone. That’s also why I love Our God so much! He knew and still knows what we deal with daily and has given us instruction in His Word on how to deal with it…. “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Random, scandalous thoughts will come, but we have to take them captive, or shoo that bird away!!! Be blessed!

  14. Jackie Ingram-Myers says

    Thanks Holley: This is right on time. I do go through this and I think bad about myself when I started thinging those thoughts. But know I have the tool to fight against this. Your words are always right on time.

    Thanks again!

  15. Dezirae says

    Oh do I know this all to well and reminding us all that it is part of being human and saved. If the readers would do me a favor, stand in agreement with me about my son’s dad, my ex that he is saved. Until then I need God’s hand on me to push me through the tough parts of this period and endure the trials and tests. I know that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, I just need cheerleaders reminding of this!

  16. Jen W says

    Thanks for the reminder! I needed to hear it from somebody else. :) Seems like it has been a hard week for this particular struggle.
    May your day be blessed with all the goodness of Jesus!

  17. says

    This is Spot On, today. Our (my) brains are powerful, intricate, beautiful
    awesome dwelling places for the meditation of Yah’s Word, but when the
    flesh takes over and repeats lies, the brain can turn in to a place of real
    Thank you for this study today of taking every thought captive and shooing
    the birds away that try to take over in the brain. May we continually keep
    our Armour of Yahweh on, starting with the most Awesome Helmet of
    Salvation! Yes, sisters!
    Hallelu~Yah! He reigns Forever.

  18. pat rich says

    Thank you so much for todays thought – I am not the only one who does this! Wow! So very right on time ty ty ty You have a unique way of saying just the right thing at the right time TY Jesus for Holley!

  19. Christine says

    The Chinese proverb actually goes like this: “You cannot prevent the birds of worry and care from flying over your head. But you can stop them from building a nest in it.” Also seen as: “You cannot stop the birds of sorrow from flying over your head but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair.”
    I think we all have a variety of things that fly in and out of our heads every day. Joyce Meyers even said in one of her books (Battlefield of the Mind, I think.) that not every thought that flies into your head comes from you. The enemy also likes to put things in there, which is why we must be even more vigilant.

  20. Terri says

    Thanks for this post! I went through this very thing yesterday and now I know how to deal with it! I love that I haven’t fallen off the turnip truck and into the pit! LOL! I know now that that pesky little bird can’t sit on my head and make her nest! Oh how God loves us!

  21. Debbie says

    GOOD TIMING today. I just kinda visualize the wind taking those thoughts
    and “blowing them away and OUT of my mind.” And then I tell the Devil to “get AWAY and
    OUT of my head.” But I like your analogy too. You are GREAT with your words and THANK YOU for being an inspiration. May God Bless you warmly.

  22. Helen Bugaj says

    I smiled when I saw this entry about a bird not being allowed to build a nest in your hair because as we all know, that bird flying overhead can do some damage. My little myschievous cat Apollo likes to roust the sparrows our of a hedge near our deck, and yesterday was greeted with the Bluebird of Happiness dropping a little gift on his nose! Boy, was he surprised! My response to the enemy now when he comes up with a sneak attack is, “Is that the best you can do?” God is watching over us to protect us. As long as we don’t give the enemy any ammunition to launch a full scale attacks on us, we’ll be okay!

  23. Cathy says

    Holley, thank you, thank you, thank you! The feelings of being a fraud have been in overdrive the past couple of days….and I even know the trigger!! Thank you for sharing that this happens even to you!! Love your big heart and Spirit inspired words!

  24. Karen says

    Holley, I read your blog every day but have never commented. You seem to know exactly what I need to hear in each of your blogs. Today’s, though, really hit home. This has been going on for over a year now. Sometimes I will even be reading a devotion and a judgmental thought will enter my head. Or as you said, something uncharacteristic of my personality will pop into my head and I sometimes will go down a road that is clearly not leading to Christ. Your object lesson using a bird really spoke to my heart. “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you don’t have to let it build a nest in your hair!” Oh how many times have I allowed it to not only build a nest but take up residence! My “bird” (flesh) is so wanting to be in control. Thank you so much for reminding me that I am a NEW creation in Christ and He is the One in control.
    I know it must be so hard to write day after day, but God has truly gifted you and I am so blessed by your writing.

  25. Lida says

    Thank you Holley
    this will help me to fight guilt about the uninvited thoughts. I enjoy and learn from you daily blogs. You are amazing, blessed and gifted.

  26. Nancy Willroth says

    Hi Holly, This is my first note to you. I am going thru a challenging discussion with my niece. She is having communication troubles with her mother. Although she is in her mid 30’s. She is still struggling to find an appropriate way to have meaningful conversation with her mother (my sister).

    Honestly, when I hear of some of the really hurtful word being said, it sounds as if it’s me telling the same story 20 years ago, My mom and I are finally friends but I was well into my 40’s when I was finally able to have a relationship with her.

    Why are we as humans so unable to show the same Grace to each other that God has shown us?

  27. Lucille says

    Thanks, Holley, for today’s words of encouragement. I certainly needed them! It helps me to speak the Word of God until that “other” voice shuts up. Last night I had a real bad night and all I could do was keep calling Jesus’ name. He’s always there, even in the midnight hour. Thank-you for letting me know I’m not alone when unwelcome thoughts attack my mind.

  28. Hope says

    I have recently come through one of life’s passages and find myself thinking about things that I am done with forever. I love the idea of the old me flying around trying to find a place to land. Thanks to people like you I have the support to simply tell myself, “I don’t want to think about that,” and move on. It sometimes takes a couple of times, but we can make good choices and escape the ugly and negative. Love this!

  29. Crystal says

    I never believed in ESP until today’s post! How could you read my mind? I love the analogy of the little bird. I’ll be shooing that bird away like crazy from here on out! Thank you, Holley, for your wisdom, encouragement…and humanity.

  30. Briand P Le Lievre says

    Thank you for todays thoughts = = = You are so intuive = and I do find all you blogs to be good
    i am a man =so it may seem strange me being here = but I have been receiving your blogs for a while now = dont know how they started coming to me = but they do = i even get a double mailing of them now = each blog comes twice to my mailbox
    Todays blog was very pertanant for myself = as that dam looney bird really does try to drive me crazy at times = i use the = “Statan – Begone in the name of JESUS CHRIST” method


  31. Carol says

    Holly, you can’t know what your lovely email meant to me today as I’m scheduled for major surgery on Oct. 10th and the anxiety of it does creep into my thoughts often. I know the Good Lord will be with me and the surgeon and I will not let that bird build a nest in my hair! That brought a smile to my face and positive thoughts in my mind and heart. I look forward to all of your spiritual and thought provoking newsletters, but this one is exceptionally meaningful to me. Thank you for being an online friend and a blessing in my life. I send your newsletters on to family and friends often.

  32. Cheryl Nelson says

    Thank you so much Holly for this article…..just the right timing for it too. Lately the thoughts that float thru my mind….well, they aren’t very nice. It is a great comfort to know that many others have this problem too. So I will begin employing your method of getting rid of the crazy loon and saying so long. With a grateful heart, all the best to you and yours.

  33. Erika says

    Like an angel’s voice in my head now… your words I read help overcome the horrible buzz of static. In all the things and books I have read previous to today, I have never had such a concisely packed punch of truth about this topic hit me over the head. With a heart full of gratitude for explaining what you did – Thank you! :)

  34. Anita says

    Thanks to GOD and to you, Holley! Needed this so very much right now. Paul, the author of Romans 7:13-25, could also proclaim Romans 8:37!

  35. Kim says

    Wow. Just Wow. Right on target, Holley. This happens to me a lot, and I’m always left shaking my head as if it were happening to someone else. Nope, that was me who just thought (and hopefully didn’t say) that. Great. Now what? Thank you for giving me a strategy that makes perfect sense.

  36. Rebecca says

    WOW!! Our God is so amazing! I needed to hear every word you shared today. Thank you for being His vessel. I’ve put myself in such a state over my “stinky thinking”. He doesn’t want me to focus on that. I LOVE the tips you shared and am going to start using them. Thank you for your transparency and willingness to share.

  37. Eunice Vincent says

    Well, Miz Holley, it seems that you have hit dead center on one of my most grieveous short-comings. I realize it is Satan and this “tabernacle of flesh” in which I dwell that brings about those thoughts. I say inwardly, “”Where did THAT come from?!” If the saying that misery loves company (and we ARE miserable when we sin, aren’t we?!), then I am relieved to know that there are many others out there like me. I think I’ll just keep my spiritual slingshot with me from now on and take aim on that ol’ bird! Thanks for sharing, and God bless!

  38. Patricia says

    Hi Holley! You hit the nail on the head with your post. When I get bothered by those thoughts, I just say ” Get behind me satan” followed by” Please Jesus help me” and true enough, the thoughts actually fade away. Thank you Holley. I now know that I’m not alone. God bless you as you continue giving your time to the great work you are doing….bringing God to others!

  39. says

    After reading your article, it called to mind a blessing I had when praying to God to help me overcome such thoughts. I then came across the following information in an article that really helped me:

    When we allow ourselves worry, it is really a form of ourselves trying to ‘control’ situations in a different way from what they were intended to actually be. Recognizing this, we must learn and continue to remember ‘what is’ the ‘truth’ – accept and embrace it, live the truth. It’s important not to continue ‘rethinking’ the wrong thoughts and by so doing, vainly try to turn these incorrect thoughts into a ‘new truth’ based on our inaccurate thinking. We must embrace the divine truth of humanity as God mde it, (that such thoughts are a part of our lives on earth) acknowledging humbly that God, not ourselves, is in control of all things. And, it is good.

    This information really helped me and I hope it will help you as well. God bless you always.

  40. Dan says

    Thank you. I am so glad that I am not the only one who does this. I say to my self some times when this happens well I know I must be doing something right because Satan or old self is trying to change me. Glad for Grace and Mercy. We serve a awesome God.

  41. Johanna says

    Thanks Holley, this couldn’t be more timely……birds been trying to nest but now I can put up the ‘no vacancy sign’… fact I’ve had to do so at least 5 or 6 times today!!! Great to hear that there needs to be no guilt or trying to figure out what this means etc……. You have such a wonderfully easy way of putting things……….Thank you for always directing my eyes upon our Father’s grace and love :-)))

  42. Joyce Veronica Varlack says

    Hi Holley :) , thanks for your thoughts. I do believe that some of these uninvited thoughts are planted in our minds by the enemy of our soul. I’ve learned to counter his attacks with James 4:7. It works everytime! (Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.)

  43. Maxine says

    Thank Your so much to know i’m not alone in having these thoughts pop into my head and make me feel usless. Need to remember my Lord is always there to say I Love You, and I will help you, I’ll strengthen you.

  44. says

    It’s very nice to see I’m not alone with random, uninvited thoughts. Thank-you for this post! I do indeed go through the day thinking what in the world is wrong with me, or thinking that maybe I shouldn’t have ate that . I think it’s even more than just our old selves trying to get hold, but a very real enemy trying to confuse us. I love the verse, “The Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6

  45. Sandy says

    Hi Holley,
    I thought I was the only person this happened to and it made me feel like a fraud too!! I’m so glad I can find a way to “shoo” the thought and return to Jesus’ ways.

    Thank you.
    Shalom, Sandy

  46. Rita O'Toole says

    Yes! Holly, then I have to Forgive myself for those thoughts. Because I Know that God already has (if I’ve asked) I then have to rid myself of the lingering Guilt for thinking them in the first place! Oh Dear. How Satan likes to “work on us”, huh?

  47. says

    I have to get across my personal passion on your goodness promoting folks who actually need help with this area of curiosity. The actual resolve for passing the perfect solution all around had been good and possess regularly urged workers just like me to arrive at cause real progress. Your own personal useful useful info means this much someone at all like me whilst still being far more for you to my personal peers. Thank you coming from all people.

  48. Shaina says

    Once again the Lord has used you to speak to my heart! Doesn’t your mind literally feel like a flock of birds is bombarding it sometimes? I’m so thankful that you take time to step out of your comfort zone to encourage the hearts of those in the same boat as you are. Another thought I thought I’d share with you that a friend of mine recently brought to light is to send up a prayer for the Lord to take your thoughts into captivity. It’s amazing what He can do when we actually “take a chance on Him” and let Him give us a helping hand. :)


  1. […] I’m going through my day and suddenly an uninvited thought slips into my mind.   You know what I’m talking about–it happens to you too. At church.   In a meeting.   While you’re trying to type a blog post.   Suddenly something you never want to think is right there in the middle of your little head.   And the more you try not to think about it, the more you do.  […]

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