The 4R’s of Taking Your Thoughts Captive

A single event can send you into an emotional spiral where your rational mind stops functioning. Everything that you believe about yourself goes out the window. The question is, how do you stop the spiral and get back to the truth about the person God created you to be?


As I discussed in two of my earlier posts, How do I change and Stop the Spiral, emotional spirals were an everyday occurrence in the early days of my healing process. Many of you have experienced something similar. If so, you are not alone. The anxiety that follows an emotional spiral is, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the most common mental disorder in the U.S.A. A single event can send you into an emotional spiral where your rational mind stops functioning. Everything that you believe about yourself goes out the window. The question is, how do you stop the spiral and get back to the truth about the person God created you to be?  In this blog I will show you how you can learn to stop emotional spirals by completing the four R’s of The Taking Captives Journal: Review, Reveal, Regroup, and Rewrite. The Taking Captives Journal was the first tool I created as a response to God’s revelation about combining Biblical truth with psychological/educational truths for complete healing. The journal is the cornerstone of Relate (formerly Living as Conquerors).

For more information about Relate Click here

Review-Identify the Trigger

The first R-Review helps you identify the trigger by asking the question, what happened the moment before your emotions became intense? Take a minute to describe what you were doing immediately before you became upset. The key to success is brevity. Remember the goal is to capture your thought not ramble into emotional chaos. Limit your response to one or two sentences. Identifying the event allows you to jumpstart your rational mind and begins the process of capturing your initial thoughts and slowing the emotional response. Identifying “What Happened” also stops you from rambling and spiraling into other events that created the same emotional response.

Reveal-Your Thoughts and Feelings

Once you identify the trigger, you can proceed to the second R-Reveal: Thoughts and Feelings. In this step you will answer the question, what are my thoughts and feelings? Once again, limit your response to one or two sentences or one or two words. When you limit the emotions that you write down, you keep your emotions from escalating and allows you to move to the third R-Regroup where you can focus on what you need now.


You know what happened. You’ve identified what you thought and felt. Now you Regroup-to focus the type of connection you need in this circumstance. To determine what type of connection you need to answer the question, what will calm my emotions in this situation? We all have unique ways of connecting to others, to circumstances, and to God. They indicate not only how you might respond to life’s circumstances, but also help you focus your thoughts on the kind of connections that will empower you to move forward, find peace and make Christ-centered choices. Write down one or two ways of connecting that might calm your emotions.

Rewrite-God’s Solution

Now you are ready for the last and most important R-Rewrite where you bring God’s solution into the circumstance. You accomplish this by answering the question, what does the word say? Begin by reviewing what you wrote for the first 3R’s. Find a word or phrase that resonates with you. Next, use the concordance in your Bible. If you have a Bible app on your phone, look up keywords that are in your answers to the second and third R. Once you find a scripture that resonates with you, read the scripture aloud, write down the scripture, and then read it aloud again. Reading aloud engages two senses: sight, hearing. Writing engaging two senses: sight and touch. Reading aloud again increases the chance that the words stay in your mind and that the scripture will be there the next time you need it. Additionally, the truth of scripture calms you and brings peace to the chaos. It is important to complete all the sections each time that you journal to completely capture your thought and replace it with the Truth.

You can stop emotional spirals by completing the 4R’s of The Taking Thoughts Captives Journal

  • Review-The trigger
  • Reveal- Thoughts and Feelings
  • Regroup-(focus)
  • Rewrite-God’s Solution

The 4 R’s of The Taking Thoughts Captives Journal only work if you decide to make a change in the way you respond to the circumstances in your life. You must decide that you want to change and once again believe that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I have shown you a tool, but like any tool, it is useless if you do not use it. The triggers will not stop. You must be consistent with completing the 4R’s every time your emotions seem too intense for a situation. While the process may not change the circumstance that triggered the emotions, it will change you in the circumstance.

The 4R’s take you out of the circumstance and allows you to look at it with your rational mind, figure out what you need and then allow God to replace the irrational thought with His truth.

What Can you do today to begin taking your thoughts captive?

  • First, the next time something causes you to begin a spiral, stop, review, reveal, regroup and rewrite. Step outside the moment and capture the thought.
  • Second, find someone to hold you accountable.
  • Third, use technology to assist you. There are several journaling apps that allow you to type narrative. Anyone of them can be an on-the-go journal.
  • Fourth, a paperback version of The Taking Captives Journal with space for 100 journals is available at The journal also includes ten suggestions for types of connections and a list of fifty scriptures.
  • Finally, you can also Sign up to receive email notification of upcoming Relate events here.

NOTE: I was the co-founder of Living as Conquerors and co-authored The Taking Captives Journal with my daughter, Korine Martinez. In August 2016 I retired from the ministry. I gifted two wonderful friends and pastors, Cheryl and Eleanora Luke, with the intellectual property from the ministry,  Cheryl and Eleanora have renamed the ministry as Relate. I continue working with them as they work to grow the ministry. The material found in this blog is used with their permission.

Author: Charlotte B. Thomason

I hold a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Apologetics, Emphasis in Cultural Apologetics from Houston Baptist University. I also hold a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Graceland University. With over 30 years of experience in foster care and social work, I have a wealth of experience from which to draw as I offer guidance to women in their journey of healing. I have seen, both professionally and personally the devastation created by child abuse. My writing also reflects my personal journey to healing.

3 thoughts on “The 4R’s of Taking Your Thoughts Captive”

    1. Thank you for the back link. I’m glad the journal is helpful to you. I do have a request, however. Would it be possible for you to put a statement in the text that the journal is part of the Relate program? And add a link to the ministry page-
      By doing so you’ll help Relate reach more people. This was my ministry until I retired. I gifted it to Cheryl and her sister. There is a link in the blog to the page, but a mention in your text will help as well.
      I’m sharing your post with Cheryl. Thanks again.

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