Did you know you have the power to change the way you think?
I have heard it said that we do not have this power, that we only have the ability to change our behavior, that we “can’t control” our thoughts, but I say: changing our thinking is a behavior. One of my patients a few weeks ago said, “I didn’t know that changing my thoughts was something I could control, this is a serious game-changer!” He is not unlike many of us. We may have been called names, or labeled by others growing up: freak, leader, worthless, champion, worry-wart, average, slut… and the list goes on. I love these quotes from Kris Vallotton from Bethel church in CA:
“The kingdom you “believe” you have within you will be the kingdom you reproduce around you. Therefore, what you believe about yourself will determine how you behave…”
“Once the devil convinces you that your behavior IS your identity than he can leave you alone…” “Conviction is from the Holy Spirit. When you behave badly, conviction says, ‘You are way too awesome to be acting like that. Stop it! You are acting below your identity…’”
“If you “receive” an alias name you will spend your life trying to not act out your identity…’”
Those are powerful words. Your behavior is not your identity. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Knowing the power and authority you have is crucial, because you can stare your well-known “false identities” and “labels” in the face and say, “NO! That is not who I am.” Honestly, if I hear the words, “Well, that’s just who I am…” one more time, I am going to lose it. When did we decide that broken humans could choose our identities for us?
I learned something cool last week about this well-known scripture:
“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.” 2 Cor 10:5
This piece about our thoughts being “brought into captivity” is the Greek word “aichmalōtizō” (ah-mal-oh-tee-zo) which comes from the word meaning “a spear.” So, this scripture could be read this way: “We destroy justifications and rationalizations, and every claim that opposes God, and we hold them at spear-point, like prisoners, and force them to obey Christ.”
So here they are, two ways to “fix” your thoughts. You probably already know, I like to play with words.
1. Fix [fiks] verb: to mend, to repair
Identify thoughts and beliefs that are fractured and in need of repair and mending. Work to restore them to working order. One practical method is the use of the ABC model that comes out of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).
Try working through this:
A- Activating Event (This is a trigger issue that is associated with a specific thought/belief)
Example: She ignored me at the party.
B- Belief (This is the thought… this is where the work comes in. The “go-to” thought/belief is typically negative. Use 2 Corinthians 10:5 to choose an alternative “B”… even if the negative “B” has proof to justify choosing it)
Negative: She hates me. She has something against me. I must have done something to offend her.
Positive Alternative: I know she has a lot going on. She must be working through some tough stuff! She deserves grace, she didn’t mean to ignore me.
C- Consequence (This is the action and emotion that is associated with the “B”. The emotional consequence follows the “B” that is chosen)
Choosing negative “B” leads to negative “C”: I should ignore her too. I am hurt and offended. What’s her problem? Leads to: Deeper bitterness, acting unkind towards her, feeling discontent
Choosing positive “B” leads to positive “C”: I should check in with her, she probably needs to get some things off her chest. I need to pray for her. I feel so sad that she is hurting. Leads to: Demonstration of grace and compassion, feelings of love and understanding, deeper friendship
Choosing the positive/alternative “B” and therefore experiencing the side-effects of the positive/alternative “C” significantly lessens the chance of “A” ever happening again with that person. Choosing the negative “B” and therefore experiencing the side-effects of the negative “C” increases the likelihood of “A” happening again with the same people in similar/different environments.
2. Fix [fiks] verb: to direct one’s eyes, to look unwaveringly, to fasten securely
Here is the other definition, and the next step.
You are responsible for your mind and thoughts. They are yours, and yours alone. What will you do with them? Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life..” In Scripture, the heart and mind are often used synonymously. Choosing the alternative, positive “B” can dramatically change your life. Choosing to be free from the hold that persecutory thoughts and feelings have over your life allows you to experience freedom you didn’t even know was possible! There’s a lot of freedom in Heaven, from what I hear. Is it possible that Heaven is something you and I could experience here on Earth, before we die?
(“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10); “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4)).
I hope to offend the parts of you that don’t line up with what God has to say about you. I hope you become uncomfortable with parts of you that feel broken and hurting. They do not belong there… they were given to you, but you do not have to chose to put them on or accessorize yourself with them anymore… “Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord,” (Romans 13:14). Acting out your broken identity will never feel fulfilling. I promise. I work with brokenness day in and day out and have become all too familiar with it’s side-effects. We can either live “towards freedom” always doing and striving and experiencing frustration which leads to victim mentalities and complaining… or we can seek to live “from freedom” which causes us to dwell daily in a space where we experience perpetual peace and contentment, no matter the circumstances. By living in peace and contentment, we may notice that our circumstances actually “change.”
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Phil 4:8
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus” Heb 3:1