Jo’s Journal: Don’t Let Anyone Live Rent-Free in Your Head

Jos Journal at Mustard Seed Sentinel
Credit: Kylie De Guia in

Don’t Let Anyone Live Rent-Free in Your Head

No One Should Have that Much Power Over Your Life

by Joanne Troppello

Renowned advice columnist, Ann Landers said, “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.” I’ve used that expression a lot – not letting anyone live rent-free in your head. I didn’t know that it originated with Ann Landers until doing research for my article today.

However, I have years of experience allowing people to live rent-free in my head. I’m the type of person who over analyzes EVERYTHING. Thankfully, my husband doesn’t and he’s a good sounding board when I need to talk things out.

Yet, in my teen years through my early thirties, I allowed so many circumstances and people’s behaviors to negatively affect me – sometimes days, weeks, and months after an incident happened. Thinking back now through the 16 years of my marriage to our first year of married life (when I first had the revelation that I was allowing people and things to live rent-free in my head), it seems silly that I permitted that behavior in my life.

Now I see that I can’t allow people or circumstances to have that much power over my life. I needed to break free from harmful habits of over-analyzing everything and rehashing situations over and over again in my mind – when the object(s) living rent free in my head – weren’t even giving me or the situation a second thought.

They were living free and I was living in the prison of my mind.

Freedom in Christ

I got saved at fourteen years old, so I was a Christian throughout this learning curve of allowing people to live rent-free in my head and trying to overcome that negative behavior. And that’s ok. That’s how life goes. Just because you get saved, that doesn’t mean you magically become a perfect person overnight.

No one is perfect. We won’t be perfect, but we should be striving daily to become a better person. That is especially true for a Christian.

“He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. – Ephesians 4:10-24 (NKJV)

I don’t usually include such long passages of scripture in my articles, but I thought it was important to include the entire message here. God wants us to continually grow and mature as His children “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (verse 13).

He doesn’t want us to be confused by wrong doctrine or the deceitfulness of others. We shouldn’t walk in the “futility of our minds” (verse 17) like the unsaved people in this world. Their hearts and minds are blinded by ignorance which leads to following the flesh, not the spirit, and to sinning.

Moving Forward in Faith

When I allowed myself to let others live rent-free in my mind, I was sinning.

“But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.” – Romans 14:23 (NKJV)

I wasn’t giving the situation over to God and allowing Him to move. I was reacting in anxiety and fear and not responding in faith.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

Don’t allow others to live rent-free in your head. It’s not worth it to waste your time over such nonsense when you could be living peacefully and trusting God to work everything out.

I’m still a work in progress in this area, but I’ve come a long way forward. The for-rent signs have been taken down and the Holy Spirit is occupying my spirit and helping me to refocus my mind each day on the Lord.

Have you let other people and/or circumstances live rent-free in your head?

About the Author

Joanne Troppello at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Joanne Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel.

Connect with Joanne on Twitter. You can find Joanne on these social media channels—Twitter, Facebook, Parler, Spreely, and Clouthub—with the same username, @JoanneTroppello—and @joannetroppello.mseedsentinel on Instagram. Visit the Mustard Seed Sentinel YouTube Channel.