“Casting Down Imaginations” means we are in charge of thoughts

A troubled thought life can lead people to homelessness. I am not saying people who end up homeless are bad. It can be difficult to talk about problems people experience because Americans are quick to decide if your situation is not good then you are no good. I am going to introduce the revolutionary concept that you can make mistakes without being a mistake. Usually people are participants in their own misery without realizing what they are doing.

It may be difficult but we can choose our thoughts

I am aware that the way I thought got me in trouble but I did not always know that my thoughts were at the root of my difficulties. First of all I believed thoughts happened to me. I did not know I could choose my thoughts . Sometimes the same thought would race through my mind and I would find myself repeating “I don’t care anymore. I just don’t care.” At other times my thoughts were slower like I was on a merry go round instead of a frantic hamster wheel. Either way, through racing thoughts or slow reflection, I always returned, mentally, to the same place: I don’t care. Addicts are good at hitting the F- it switch. Late for work? So what? I quit. Need that money for rent? Whatever. I will think of something later. Sell all my food stamps by giving the EBT card to the dealer who will give me 50 cents on the dollar and I will have no food money for the month? Fine. I can always eat at the River. (River of Life Missionary in the most heavily drug infested area in downtown Honolulu, provides a continental breakfast and a hot lunch and dinner to the hundreds who show up for meals five days a week. Do they do good work? Do they make it easier for addicts to use drugs? Yes and yes. But we will talk about that place in other posts.) For now I will direct your attention to the thoughts of immediate gratification at the expense of tomorrow’s well being. The f- it attitude is what makes the sacrifice possible. The attitude is powered by the thought “I don’t care.”

It is difficult to think differently than you always have. I have recently learned that repetitive thoughts form physical pathways in the brain which is why it is so easy to slip into your familiar mindset–there is a physical home for your thoughts in your brain. It us like the brain cannot tell which thoughts serve you poorly and which thoughts profit you. Your brain is just making it easier for you to access the info you often use. You have to tell yourself something different. At first you will feel like you are lying to yourself. That’s BC for one thing the familiar thoughts have the well worn mental spot. And for another thing your addiction lies to you. Some say addiction is soul sickness others say it is a mental illness. I don’t know. But I am quite certain there is something in the addict’s head that was not there before drugs. This alien entity lies to you and you believe it. You think you won’t care about your next meal. You will. You think it will be Ok if you spend the rent money on dope. It won’t. You really do not like sleeping on the sidewalk or having to hustle a bed from a lecherous guy every time you need to sleep. You don’t want that life. But deceitful thoughts took you there.

An example of how I changed my thoughts to change an aspect of my life

On e I became an adult I never lived anywhere for more than a year or so. I spent a long time homeless but you wouldn’t see me stretched out on the street. I used different men. My addiction told me I was different from the REAL homeless people. I was no different. I do not know exactly how I came to know my mind was under the influence of a liar. The Christians I studied with said the devil was literally whispering in my ear. The devil, addiction, my subconscious were all different names for the same deceitful influence. Once I understood I was lying to myself I could do what the Bible advises, which is to cast down imaginations. Get those thoughts away from me! This is what I promised myself:

No matter what you think or how you feel in the future, this is the truth. Remember how you feel right now and do not deviate.

Caroleena’s new self talk

When I finally got a place of my own I would often feel nearly overcome with a desire to walk away and never go back. I would have an urge to get to the mainland and get on a bus or train and travel. I could figure out money later. But no. I remembered I did not want to say I don’t care about being homeless BC I do. I kept my promise to myself to wrench myself out of the comfortable notion of running away. Today I have lived in the same place for over seven years. No big deal for those who have not struggled with a betraying mind but a huge deal for me.

I used to believe success was outcompeting others to win an award or scholarship or position. But success is individual high achievement and for me stability is high achievement.

How have I managed to be stable when I could not be stable before? I was at the top of my game at Harvard–young, intelligent, beautiful and successful, yet I was emotionally disturbed. I won this battle by casting down imaginations.

Caroleena on winning the battle to maintain stable housing

If I can be stable believe me, anyone can do it!

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