How Can I Stop Unwanted Spiritual Thoughts?

What causes intrusive thoughts, and is there a way to stop them?

To deal with intrusive thoughts effectively, you first need to identify where they are coming from. Without specific examples of the kinds of thoughts you’re dealing with, I can’t respond specifically to what you’re dealing with. So instead, let’s talk about some important general principles.

First, realize that every single human on the planet “hears voices,” so it’s a bit hypocritical when we only use that phrase to refer to some peoples’ experiences and act like they are the crazy ones while the rest of us are normal. Due to the fascinating way that your elements communicate with each other, your conscious is constantly translating the chitchat between your body, subconscious, and soul into verbal thoughts which are then clearly “spoken” in your head by your “thought voice.”

Now normally, you don’t mind your “thought voice” (which is actually your conscious) chatting away at you all day everyday. But things can suddenly become very alarming when the tone of that voice suddenly shifts in a way that doesn’t feel natural. When people talk about hearing voices, they are usually talking about a voice that is creeping them out because it just doesn’t feel like their own. In other words, they can sense that it isn’t their conscious doing its usual translations of what their other elements are saying. Instead, it feels like someone else has grabbed hold of the mic and is now forcing their thoughts onto someone who really doesn’t want to hear them.

Since the thoughts that are bothering you are focused on spiritual topics yet are clearly upsetting your soul, the likely scenario is that you’re dealing with demons. Demons use many different methods to harass humans, but one of their favourite tactics is to simply start bombarding you with a bunch of upsetting verbal input. In other words, they simply start talking at you. When you register what they are saying, all of your internal elements automatically respond. The method used here is utterly simplistic, but it’s really quite ingenious because with so little effort, demons can effectively work you up into quite a state of distress if they choose the right wording.

So how can you tell that demons are involved and that these thoughts aren’t just coming from yourself? This is a very important question to ask if you’re going to choose the right response. The way that you should respond to thoughts that come from your own subconscious or soul is quite different than how you should respond to thoughts that are coming from demons. So how do you sort this out?

Identifying Origin

When trying to discern where specific thoughts are coming from, it’s always best to start by writing those thoughts down on a piece of paper so you can focus on them more clearly. Once the thought is in front of you, think about what subject that thought is commenting on. In your case, you say the thoughts are religious. I assume by that you mean they either have something to do with God, or they have something to do with specific rituals and practices that your religion promotes. To rule out internal origins, you can start by asking, “Does this thought sound like something my body might say?” To answer this question, we need to have a general idea of what your body cares about. (Click here to download your own copy of these charts.)

Here we can see that your body mainly cares about things that directly affect it. For example, “I could really go for a pizza right now,” is a thought that originated from your body. Notice how the thought is suggesting a physical solution (eating) for a physical problem (hunger). But a thought like “I hate God,” has nothing to do with body stuff. It is only your soul that pursues a personal relationship with God. Your body simply doesn’t care about God, so when upsetting thoughts are focused on God, they aren’t going to be coming from your body.

So what about your conscious? Could it be the source of these upsetting thoughts? Well, based on our charts, your conscious is very focused on the relationships between your various elements. It is so internally focused that it really doesn’t bother with thinking about external issues. So a thought like “I hate going to church,” isn’t going to come from your conscious, because that’s talking about engaging with the world around you. Your conscious isn’t focused on the world around you, it’s focused on what’s happening inside of you. A thought like, “God is evil,” is focused on a Being who isn’t you, and if the focus isn’t directly on you, you can rule out your conscious as being the origin.

So what about your subconscious? Well, your subconscious is very focused on the issue of protecting you from harm. If your subconscious were to say something like, “I hate going to church,” it would be feeling like physically going to church is either putting you in harm’s way, or burning up resources that you can’t spare. For example, if some there are some mean people at your church who like to pick on you whenever they get the chance, then your subconscious is not going to be a fan of you heading right into their line of fire. Your subconscious doesn’t care about pursuing a relationship with God. It cares about keeping you safe. God is irrelevant to your subconscious unless He starts behaving in a way that makes your subconscious feel threatened. For example, if your soul says, “I need to injure my body to prove to God that I’m really sorry for a sin I committed,” then your subconscious is going to say, “Tell this God of yours to step off. You’re not going to attack our body on my watch!” Here God is being discussed, but notice how your subconscious is focused on how God is being used as an excuse for harming your body. It’s the direct harm to your system that your subconscious cares about, not the concept of God.

So then, a key question for you to ask is what these intrusive thoughts are focused on. When demons are trying to upset you using intrusive thoughts, they will usually begin by targeting your subconscious or your soul. When they target your subconscious, they usually start proposing a bunch of scary “what if” scenarios which all involve you experiencing some kind of harm–physical, mental, or social. Whenever your subconscious is confronted with the idea of you being harmed, it immediately gets upset and starts trying to work out defence strategies. So think about the effect these thoughts are having on you–specifically which of your internal elements is being the most upset by them. If your subconscious is the one being upset, it will probably be stressing over a bunch of potential negative circumstances that haven’t even happened to you yet. If your soul is the one being upset, its anxious reaction will more likely be focused on its own relationship with God.

Since these intrusive thoughts are focused on spiritual topics, this is likely a case of demons trying to directly upset your soul by making a bunch of statements that your soul thinks God would be angered by. This is a very common tactic for demons, but to get their desired effect, they need you to take ownership of the thoughts. In other words, they need you to assume that those thoughts are somehow coming from you. Once you view yourself as the source of “sinful” or “irreverent” thoughts, then your soul is likely to react with all kinds of guilt and stress as it tries to get God to forgive it for being “bad.” Only there’s nothing for God to forgive here because you aren’t the one being snarky with Him–demons are simply dropping thoughts on you that they want your soul to stress over.

In the charts above, I don’t address the issue of a soul having a relationship with God. Those charts reflect what the soul’s priorities would be before it understand that God exists. But once your soul begins a personal relationship with God and decides that it really cares about that relationship, then pleasing God gets added to its list of personal priorities. Once your soul really cares about pleasing God, the fastest way for demons to upset your soul is to try to con you into thinking God is mad at you when He’s really not (see Guidance for Stressing Christians: Is God Punishing You?). Think about these thoughts that are bothering you. What do they imply about your own relationship with God? Is it being implied that God might be upset with you for some reason? Do you feel like these thoughts are trying to stir up strife between your soul and God?

When demons go after your soul directly, they are usually reacting to some effort your soul is making to move closer to God. Demons loathe the idea of your soul getting into some happy place with your Creator. They are rather like a woman who is so bitter over not being able to find a man for herself that she tries to destroy any romantic relationships that she sees around her. Whenever one of her co-workers starts dating someone, this woman starts spreading nasty rumours that trash her co-worker’s reputation and cause her new boyfriend to dump her. This woman is so bitter and miserable herself that she actually feels comforted by seeing others as miserable as she is. This is the general mindset demons have about you getting somewhere with God. They hate you, and they really hate God, so they can’t stand the idea of you and Him being all cosy together. So if your soul starts trying to step up its efforts to pursue God by investing more in your relationship with Him, demons aren’t just going to sit back and cheer you on. Instead, they will aggressively move in, and they will likely start trying some new tactics on you to see if they can get your soul to stop trying so hard.

Now since you feel you can identify a clear timeframe for when these thoughts started occurring, it would be useful to think back and ask yourself what your soul was doing back then. If your perspective of God changed in some way back then, and you either first began to realize who He was, or you decided to make Him more of a priority in your life, that would be a very likely cause of demons starting to attack you like this. But if this is what is going on, you should be able to identify a very clear negative effect that these thoughts are having on your soul. It won’t just be general distress–instead it will be the kind of distress that starts making you feel insecure in your relationship with God and less confident about progressing with Him.

Benefitting from Harassment

As I said before, without specific examples, I can only give you general advice. Demons always have a specific, negative agenda when they start targeting you. As much as they love seeing you in a state of distress, they prefer to get some real damage out of it. For example, if you’re so stressed that you lash out at a good friend and say something crushing, that is a lot more satisfying to demons than seeing you just stewing by yourself. If your soul gets so upset that it shuts down on God and refuses to talk to Him, that is a real score for demons. If you can identify what their end goal is, it can help you choose a better response. For example, are they trying to push you into being hostile towards a specific human in your life? Are they trying to get you to lash out at God? Demons often have a bigger prize in mind that they are trying to get out of hassling you. Ideally, they will come up with a way of upsetting you that you can’t quickly recover from, and that means you’ll remain feeling stalled and lousy for quite a long time after they leave you to go hassle other targets.

Now once you’re dealing with malicious supernatural creatures attacking you, how can you get them to stop? You can’t. There are scores of religious folks out there who will tell you all kinds of guff about how you can send demons packing if you say certain prayers or engage in certain kinds of rituals. But the truth is that demons aren’t the least bit threatened by all of the ridiculous hoopla humans come up with in the name of “banishing evil spirits”.

Surprisingly, trying to make demons shut up and go away is the wrong focus. The far better strategy is to change the way you respond to their attacks. Here is where the subject of soul attitudes becomes critical, because when demons attack you, they are essentially trying to shift your soul attitudes in a negative direction. Once you understand that this is their underlying goal, you can realize that focusing on their specific theatrics (speaking to you in scary voices, causing strange noises, making things move about, filling your head with frightening images) is the wrong way to respond. Demons are quite capable of doing a wide range of very alarming stunts, but you can’t try to combat them at that level because when it comes to manipulating your environment and even manipulating your own body, demons have far too much of an advantage over you. Rather than focus on making the voices stop, you need to focus on cultivating the soul attitudes God wants you to have. Once you start using demonic attacks as a prompt to focus on the right soul attitudes, demonic harassment becomes a tool for helping you spiritually mature. Since the last thing demons want to do is help your soul progress, they will get very frustrated by you responding to their antics by focusing more on the very soul attitudes that they want you to reject.

Think of it like this: a man has a female neighbour who is determined to break up his happy marriage. Whenever she can, this neighbour flirts with the man and says untrue things about his wife. At first the man is very upset by all of this. But then he comes up with a plan. Realizing that he can’t control his neighbour’s behaviour, he decides to stop focusing on trying to stop her. Instead, when he leaves for work in the morning, he decides that if the neighbour approaches him, then regardless of what she says, he’ll view her as a reminder to do something nice for his wife. Sometimes he buys his wife flowers. Other times he brings home a nice card for her. Sometimes he volunteers to do an extra chore around the house. Every time the nasty neighbour has another go at him, the man uses that experience as a prompt to invest in his marriage. Over time, what will the effect of this plan be? The man’s wife is quite thrilled with how nicely he’s treating her, and he’s realizing that he really enjoys doing extra things for her. Because the man changed the way he responded to his neighbour, he ends up strengthening the very relationship that she hoped to destroy. But notice the key element here: the man decided to focus less on what the neighbour was doing, and to simply view her interactions with him as a reminder to engage with his wife.

Now once demons step up their game with you and you start getting wise to them and using the kind of strategy I just explained, they will usually respond in one of two ways. They will either temporarily retreat while they come up with a new attack strategy, or they will dramatically up their game to try to scare you away from using the method I described. You need to be aware that demons have the ability to be very aggressive. I say this so you won’t be caught off guard if they should react to you this way. They don’t usually make a huge leap up from nagging thoughts to, say, throwing things around the room, but this is a possibility and it is important to have a realistic understanding of what they are capable of. These are extremely malicious and powerful creatures that you are dealing with, but compared to God, demons are as impressive as carpet lint. While it’s important to be aware of how formidable demons can be, you don’t want to be overly afraid of them, because they are not the ones in control; God is.

It’s vital to understand that demons cannot do bumpkus unless God allows them to do so, so they are very much like dogs on a leash who can be pulled back at anytime. Any time you’re dealing with supernatural entities, it is vital to understand that God is infinitely more powerful than anything He creates and that all creatures depend on Him to sustain their very existence. So while we should respect the power of demons, we should respect God infinitely more and recognize that He is the only Supernatural Entity who we really need to be concerned with. From God’s perspective, demons are tools that can be very effective in helping your soul mature and thrive. Whenever God allows demons to hassle you, He is intentionally creating an opportunity for your soul to grow closer to Him by focusing on those four essential soul attitudes. Focusing on God and on His positive agendas for you is the key to responding to demons effectively.

Now since education is extremely helpful here, if you feel that you are dealing with demons, I recommend that you read my book on this subject. The book will teach you how to identify when demons are trying to con you, and it will help you understand what kinds of methods they use to achieve their goals. Ignorance is a massive drawback when it comes to learning how to deal with demons effectively, so the sooner you learn to see through their antics, the sooner you can start benefitting from their harassment by choosing the right response.

This post was written in response to Maben.