I, too, have struggled with the balance between not blaming Satan enough, and blaming him too much. It has actually turned into one of the central focuses of my work over the past 20 years. Asking questions like, “When is it him, and when is it me?”
The simplest and most complete answer I have found is in Moroni 7. “That which is not good is of Satan”
vs12 ” that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually,”
Notice the obnoxious word, “continually”.
Moroni uses the phrase, “everything which inviteth and enticeth”, which I propose includes thoughts and feelings. So if a thought or feeling increases pain (or other unpleasantries) in an unedifying way then it is not from us or from God, but from Satan.
When I first started discovering these things, I was horrified, upon self reflection, that between 90-95% of my thinking was Satanic (not good). As I watched my thoughts and feelings more closely, I noticed that I wasn’t choosing such thoughts and feelings, they would just come on their own. I meet lots of people who come to the conclusion, “If it is happening this often, it must be because I am choosing it.” I remind the person of the scripture above…Satan will fight us ‘continually’.
It helped for me to remember the parable from the New Testament about the enemy in the night. Matthew 13:24, “But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.” As I was studying myself I observed that these unwanted thoughts were coming out of no-where. I would turn my head for a minute, and the next thing I know, thoughts and feelings like weeds are growing in my brain!
Then another principle came to mind. As Adam and Eve were leaving the Garden of Eden, they were told that no longer would good things grow on their own, but “by the sweat of thy brow shall thy eat thy bread”. My parents would have us help plant big gardens so we could experience this first hand. I remember being very frustrated with how much work it took to keep pulling the weeds (useless thoughts and feelings) and keep planting and nurturing and protecting good seeds. I find that I have the same amount of work to do in my brain.
It helps for me to know that the idea of “negative self talk” is a false principle. I am good. People are good. We want to be good. We think we live in a new time, but we are all still farmers. If we want fields of good growing in our minds, we must resign ourselves to the truths of the prophets. We must plant seeds of truth in our minds more than every day. We must pull weeds and pull weeds and pull weeds. I have learned a few tricks that decrease weed growth, listening to conference talks and scriptures almost constantly when I am not with people, and when I am with people, pushing my thoughts toward finding things to do that make a difference for them.
I am sad that this is so hard for you. I am sad, when you first take a close look at your mind, it may be filled with weeds from your past. But now we are in today. We can fight for the now. When I first worked on this, I would keep 3×5 cards with the best seeds/ideas I could find, and whenever I noticed I was thinking in ‘weeds’, I would pull out the card(s) and try to ponder them for as long as I could. With respect to percentage of time, I would lose this battle most of the time at first, but then I found myself gaining momentum. It has taken a great deal of work, and still everyday I have to pull weeds ‘continually’, but I am doing good things, and I am not sinning in any big way now. Days stacked upon days of this is what gives me peace.
I hope this helps for today.
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