Ever had the dentist tell you to chew on the opposite side of normal for a few days?
Or, maybe you’ve experienced some sort of ailment that forced you to use muscles you didn’t know you had in a way you were not accustomed to.
Some of you might have even experienced this: You moved to a new place across town, but rather than heading there after work, your brain kicked on its auto-pilot until you suddenly realized you were back in your old neighborhood, pulling into your old driveway.
If any of these things have happened to you, then you have an inkling of how challenging it is to train your brain to reject its previous wiring in order to establish more efficient (and dare I say, peaceful?) pathways.
For the last 11 days I’ve submerged myself into a 21-day process that some of you might want to courageously consider. (http://21daybraindetox.com) Dr. Caroline Leaf is a Christian cognitive neuroscientist whose research confirms that 75% to 95% of illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Thankfully, the Bible also confirms that we can change our thinking. Romans 12:2a teaches, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” In order to renew our minds, we must follow Paul’s advice in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
So, how exactly are we supposed to do that?
Science has once again backed up the Bible. Today’s brain scans are capable of clearly capturing images of actual toxic thoughts and healthy thoughts. Toxic ones look like sparse, wiry trees, while healthy thoughts look like trees adorned with lush foliage. As controllers of our thoughts, we have the power within us to actually change the structure of our brains! Through Dr. Leaf’s process of gathering our thoughts for examination, determining whether those thoughts are toxic or healthy, and journaling what we find, we can then establish actions that will literally break off negative thought branches and allow positive thoughts to bud and grow. (Please see Dr. Leaf’s website for a more detailed description of the process.) By doing this, you are performing brain surgery on yourself!
I realize for some of you, this might seem a bit overwhelming. However, when you run into a mountain you can’t climb, whether by unfortunate circumstances or your own bad choices, your best course of action can only be charted after contrasting your thoughts with the sharp-enough-to-cut-through-your-crud Word of God. That’s when you’ll ignite the power living inside you. Christians must get inside themselves in order to run headlong into the Holy Spirit, because that’s where He lives!
To give you an example of how you can begin your own brain transformation, I’m hesitantly opening my journal to give you a peak at a few bits of my pesky self-talk. I’m anxious to see these feelings broken into a million little pieces so the breath of God can blow them away. Listed next to them, you’ll see the Scriptures I’ve chosen to repeat to myself throughout the day whenever a negative thought takes centerstage.
|These insecure feelings will never go away.||“Weeping may stay overnight, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5 (CSB)|
|You worry about how others see you rather than focusing on how God sees you.||“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may proclaim the praises of him who brought you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)|
|You’ll never make it through this process.||“If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” Mark 11:23 (CSB)|
No matter the size of your mountain, let God give you the gumption to shovel to the bottom of it and lift up the whole thing to Him – roots and all. It takes courage to look that deeply into your thoughts so that you can think about what you’re thinking about. If you don’t seem to have enough courage to identify your toxic thoughts, ask God. Then be ready for Him to show you! Don’t pray Psalm 139:23-24 unless you mean it! “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me to the path everlasting.” He will show you your stinkin’ thinkin’ if you ask Him to! You can count on that!
Rather than just reading today’s post and moving on to your next thing, try chewing on it for a while – maybe on the opposite side of what’s normal for you. Decide to use some brain muscles you didn’t know you had to identify the toxic thoughts that may be making you sick, depressed, or just down in the dumps. You don’t have to follow your old, familiar, well-worn mental pathways! You can make new paths that lead to a more joyful and peaceful you.