The Double-Think

Double-think is when we get into a tailspin over-analyzing our motives and worrying over our possible sins or those we might commit or whether we did commit or not. Did I apologize thoroughly enough? Do I need to apologize for that? Or not?

Everyone can do this, but women can be more vulnerable, I think, because we are hungry for approval and can easily become insecure about how we are doing. We don’t like to be in trouble, and we like to color inside the lines. What if we accidentally got outside one of the lines? Is that okay? Is it legal to use the red crayon or is only blue allowed? Was I really sincere when I said that? Or was I faking? Am I in a bad mood?

Life is too short to double-think our motives and over-analyze how we are doing all the time. It’s a way of trying to do God’s job for Him, and we are not any good at it. The Holy Spirit deals with us when we sin, and He has perfect vision. He is not confused. Our aim is to be sensitive to Him. How? By being in the Word, by confessing the sins we know about as soon as we know about them, by deliberately trying to please God by walking by faith and rejoicing in His goodness and grace.

The irony is that flirts never worry about whether they are flirting or not. Insincere people don’t worry about whether they’re being sincere. Disobedient kids don’t worry about whether they’re disobeying. So we should let it rest. Double-thinking everything just wears us out and distracts us from our duties here and now.

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20 thoughts on “The Double-Think

  1. This came at a perfect time for me. I was just talking to my husband today about how, even though I helped a friend in need yesterday, all I could think about was how I said something that was misunderstood, and though it wasn’t serious, I keep focusing on that as a failure instead of being content with being able to help.

    It is so easy to get into the trap of trying to be perfect for everyone, all the time, and we forget that perfection is simply not possible, or even expected.

    Anyway, it’s like you wrote this for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you!

  2. Nancy,
    Thank you for this, I readily admit my sin to finding ym identity in the approval of others rather than in glorifying Christ.
    In order to help myself overcome this, I loved your practical advise for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, that of “By being in the Word, by confessing the sins we know about as soon as we know about them, by deliberately trying to please God by walking by faith and rejoicing in His goodness and grace.”
    Would you say this is how to discern whether or not one is double thinking an action or whether they are being convicted of the Holy Spirit? Is there ever a situation wherein it is fruitful to analyse our actions/double-think them?
    Thanks for your helpful blogposts- they are so apt!

  3. Ugh, I hate the irony. I always tell myself I am not hungry for approval but somehow I always find myself begging for it. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Is desiring approval necessarily a bad thing? Certainly it can get out of whack, like any desire, but if it comes out of a desire to honor and serve others, can’t it be a good thing? I think I’d rather desire the approval of people I respect than to ignore what others think and rely solely on my own self-assessment. If hearing “Well done” didn’t matter to the servant, then the Lord wouldn’t bother to say it. Of course it’s probably better to focus more on giving approval where it’s due than in seeking it for ourselves. I recommend Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree, which delves deeper into this topic.

  5. Hi Nancy,
    Your post describes my nine-year-old daughter. She constantly analyzes her motives, and will often drag up sins she committed, or might have committed even two years ago…like a lie she told. She’s a very sensitive spirit, and has a desire to please. Sometimes she’s zapped of all joy because of the weight she carries around of constantly worrying whether or not she’s doing everything rightly. Even little things, like whether or not she should wipe the toothpaste spit of off the sink. So how can we encourage her to walk in God’s grace by faith, and encourage a life of repentance without going outside to dig in the trashcan for sins that were taken out years ago?
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. I like your last paragraph. I think that kind of thing always serves as my greatest encourager when I’m double-thinking my actions.

  7. Good words. It’s so hard not to let a desire to operate in the right spirit get mixed up with morbid introspection. It’s very important to love God with all our hearts and minds, but we go off the rails when we think that doing those things right is the goal, and more important than what we’re actually *doing* — loving God and loving others with our will and strength. Somehow we’ve got to learn to separate keeping a clean conscience from navel-gazing, and making the state of our navels the goal.

    Valerie, I think the point isn’t that the desire for the right kind of approval is bad, just that that desire makes us vulnerable to self-doubt. Something doesn’t have to be bad to create a weakness, in a crazy, mixed-up sinner.

  8. Thank you, Mrs. Wilson! I was having a case of double-think last night about something very trivial… as a perfectionist, sometimes I try to practice taking myself less seriously and just relaxing about things. But at the same time, I do want to keep my sensitivity.

  9. Hi, this really hit the spot with me, however I read the word, yet really struggle. I know part of it is being expected to be perfect at work, which is impossible, but demanded. I feel like i’ve let this develop to the point where I expect everyone to be more sensitive like me, yet seriously am I sensitive all the time, probably not. I struggle with knowing the difference between am I trying to please God or man. I find it a challenge to drop the expectation to be perfect and intellectually knowing it is impossible in my human nature. Really I know the verses I am a new creation in Christ…Thank You for writing this you seem to know the challenges women face and are kind in your presentation of them so I feel like I can relate and pray about it.

  10. Jana,
    Your little daughter needs to learn that the real sin is the double-thinking itself. When she is worrying over sin, that is the sin. The toothpaste isn’t the sin. And the past sins are not the sins, and the maybe-I-sinned sins are not the sins. You must help her see that she’s looking at the wrong things that are not sins. The real sin is the looking in itself. That’s what she needs to repent of. Hope this helps!

  11. This is aimed straight at me. I need to learn to stop the cycle of self-analysis that keeps me from doing any actual good. This reminds me of your post about regret: we only go over and over our sins because we think they are inconsistent with our character. Once I tell myself I’m a sinner and God isn’t surprised, I can let go and obey. Keep the good words coming!

  12. It seems that the goal should be complete focus on pleasing and obeying God, and noone else’s opinion matters anymore. And God is much easier to please than most people.

  13. Valerie,
    You are double-thinking my article…! I am speaking of being a people-pleaser, which can tie a person in knots. Of course I am not suggesting that we should “please ourselves” and everyone else can take a hike. Nor am I suggesting that wives should not want their husbands’ approval or children their parents’. But when you live constantly thinking about whether the people in the room think you are cute or smart or dumb and ugly, then that is a manifestation of some insecurity that needs to be let go.

  14. Haha! Trust me to do that! Just trying to get my head around the principle and being a little slow and thick-headed about it.

    (Oh dear, oh dear…now everyone here will think I’m dumb! ๐Ÿ˜† )

  15. Since you think that way, Nancy, I’ll give you another opportunity to laugh at me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Rachel’s most recent post addresses the broader hilarity of the way feminine minds are wont to function and the care that is needed to sort through the craziness and get to what’s really causing the problem. So…what if someone’s trying to unravel the thoughts on her own? Is that always going to turn into double-think? Or is there a safe way to untangle the crazy outward manifestations and get to the root problem without getting into deeper trouble?

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