Think right, live right
Have you thought about what you think about? Your thoughts are powerful. They can impact your life and make all the difference in how you live.
The thoughts we believe and entertain have the power to shape our emotions, our attitudes, our words, and our actions. To illustrate further, how we think can lead us down a path of life and hope, or death and destruction. I know that this sounds dramatic, but one of these two options will be the ultimate outcome.
Wisdom emerged long ago from the writer of Proverbs where he cautioned us: “Your words are so powerful that they will kill or give life, and the talkative person will reap the consequences.” Our words originate from our thoughts, not the other way around.
Our internal dialogue is continuously flowing.
The self-help sphere is full of material around this topic. However, the challenge comes in when we try and apply the advice without looking within. We are changed from the inside out. That means that we if we want to learn something new, develop a healthy habit or change certain patterns it has to happen from inside ourselves.
Firstly, we would have to confront unhealthy thought patterns that are instinctive, then bring them to the front of our minds (into the cognitive) and finally consciously renew our minds to think differently.
How can we live without fear and change from the inside out?
Self-talk is the ‘internal dialogue in which individuals interpret feelings and perceptions, regulate and change evaluations and cognitions, and give themselves instruction and reinforcement.’ The Bible speaks into this topic throughout where we learn that how we think shapes our lives.
These Scriptures are full of life-changing power, therefore consider the following passages:
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you.”
And again we read in Philippians 4:8
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
So what about the sponge theory?
Whatever the sponge absorbs, when squeezed that is what will come out. If you fill the sponge with milk when pressed milk and not water come out. That’s like our lives and our minds. What we think about, what we absorb, will come out when we are under pressure.
And so, as fallible human beings, our lives are like that sponge. We absorb the words that our parents and teachers speak over us. We incorporate the words from music, movies, our friends, books, and coaches – and without realizing it – we internalize the thread in our internal dialogue. If we are not careful, we can allow the tape of words to run mindlessly in our subconscious. The boundaries around what we believe become blurred. How come is it so easy to believe the worst or think about the negative words spoken to us for hours at a time?
What’s inside comes out under pressure.
The Bible speaks about renewing our mind with the washing of the Word of God. There, when we read about who we are, how loved we are, that we are on earth for a purpose and a destiny, that we eventually start to change. Eventually, we begin to believe a different script. Furthermore, in doing so repent of false thought patterns, and we learn to forgive those who spoke words that would restrict our lives. In other words, we begin to walk in the way of the Kingdom of God and doing so embrace His way of thinking and living. Therefore, we become transformed from the inside out.
Learning to think right is a discipline.
2 Corinthians10:4 & 5
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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.“
The thoughts that should be taken into captivity are self-defeating thoughts. The ones that are not true, honest, just, pure, lovely, full of fear and not of good report. Be fearless in taking them captive, bind them up and tell them that they are not welcome in your head-space. There is no room for them to settle. Consequently, when you renew your mind, you begin to think right and your life changes.
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What about my emotions?
So when you wake up in the morning and are not feeling so great – what do you believe? Do you think about those feelings or pour yourself a second or third cup of coffee while settling in to accept the self-talk going on inside of you? Let truth start to lead your emotions and your thought patterns.
This concept is easier for some than others. If we are so conditioned to allow our emotions and subconscious thoughts to rule, then prepare yourself for a battle. A battle of the “two souls’ if you will.
The internal battle
Soul A will say something like this: “I’m not feeling so good. No-one has contacted me or reached out to me. Woe is me. Today is not going to be a good day.”
Soul B will say: “I’m not feeling so good today. Thank you, Lord, for a new day, new opportunities. I know that you love me and that my family loves me. Thank you that I am loved. The truth is that I can think of things are good and excellent and trustworthy. I believe who you say I am more than my feelings or the voices of my past.”
Thinking is active
Thinking is an action – it’s not a passive activity. It is something that we do, and we can cultivate our thinking muscle.
If you are learning to do this then apply the principle Paul speaks about in Philippians 4 where he lists the things that are good for us to think about regularly. Then Paul gives us the key to unlocking living this way: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Paul uses the Greek word, “Prasso” here which means to exercise, practice, to be busy with, carry on, to undertake, to do.” What does it mean to practice something…well, it means to keep on trying and not give up if it doesn’t work out the first time around. You keep on doing it to do it better.
As we go through life, we learn to cultivate discernment and strength of will to allow the truth of God’s word to lead our lives, to govern our emotions and to shape the internal dialogue.
Cultivate your thinking muscle through:
- Practice. Practice being thankful, practice thinking about good things and so forth. You can do this through memorizing passages of scripture, speaking your thoughts out loud and repatterning the way you think.
- The more you think about a certain thing, the bigger that thought grows. Our thoughts occupy space in our minds and these roads can either grow to become a highway or diminish to a little path.
- Think about what you think about. Develop the self-awareness so that you know when you are headed down a negative path.
- Write out your thoughts (sometimes this helps) and pray through them. Ask God what His opinion is about what you think about.
- Pray for discernment and learn the difference between living a life guided by the Spirit of the Lord or your own thoughts. Remember emotions are good, but they can be untrustworthy.
Thoughts originate from a place of fear or a place of love.
Fear tells you that you are unworthy, unlovable, incapable, ugly, defeated and under its grip. This voice will reinforce the feelings of the fear of being abandoned, of being rejected, of failure and so forth. Whereas love tells you that you are lovable, you are accepted, capable, worthy, beautiful, victorious, free and an overcomer.
Which voice will you believe? Think right and conquer fear. You will be so glad you did. I know I am.