Today I would like to talk to you about becoming aware of what we are thinking about.
In the past when I had depression and anxiety my thoughts would just flow through my mind and I didn’t understand the importance of being aware of what I was thinking about.
Just to be clear I am not a psychologist and what I am sharing with you today is what I have learned through personal study, My own life experience and reading God’s Word.
This podcast episode and blog post does not replace professional expert advice but I’m excited to share with you things that I have learned over the last few years and which I believe may be helpful for you.
There is a lot of evidence in current scientific research that neural pathways in our brains Are strengthened over time and with repetitive use. What is understood is that these pathways are strengthened and that the brain tends to use the pathways that require the least amount of energy.
Our brains can become lazy and we simply think and do that which takes the least amount of energy and effort.
So retraining our brains takes focus.
What are we focusing on?
When we first become aware of what we are thinking about it can take extensive effort to rewire and train our brains to focus on more positive, uplifting thoughts and create beneficial habits. If we have been thinking negatively over a long period of time, you can take focused effort to retrain our natural thought patterns.
The Bible spoke about this thousands of years ago. It mentionsthe importance of transforming our minds to be aligned with goodness, optimism, and God‘s will for our lives. A beautiful verse is from Romans 12 Verse 12.
From the Berean study Bible;
Do not be conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Renewing my mind personally has taken quite a lot of time but I am much more aware now of what I’m thinking about. The benefit of this is that if I start to feel upset, sad, frustrated, or envious I can now recognise that I am thinking about negative things and this is leading to certain emotions.
I don’t very often feel sad for extended periods of time any more. When I have moments of sadness I stop and I reflect and I think about what has been on my mind for the last five minutes or 10 minutes or the last hour. I usually recognise at this point that perhaps my mind has been focusing on negative things, comparing my life to others, or feeling negative about myself in some way.
With this newfound understanding, I am able to stop, pause and focus on what I’m grateful for, on God’s Word, and on the blessings in my life.
Another verse in the Bible that reminds us to think about beautiful things is found in Phillipians 4:8.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever Is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, what whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy then think about such things.
I would like you to pause and think about what you have been thinking about over the last little while. After you have recognised these things I would like you to consider replacing any negative thoughts with positive ones.
If you found yourself feeling jealous of someone else consider what you are grateful for in Your own life.
If your thoughts where about how you’re not good enough or smart enough or beautiful enough I would encourage you to discover in God’s word what he says about you.
If you have a anger in your heart towards somebody I encourage you to pause now and forgive them. We are called to forgive and to love our brothers and sisters. Forgiveness restores relationships, it helps to release heartache, and it lightens your load. Forgiveness doesn’t just benefit you but it also helps the person you have forgiven, especially if unforgiveness has impacted the way that you have treated that individual.
I mention these things because in the past my thoughts were mostly ruled by negativity I had a lot of jealousy towards other people especially loved ones who were pregnant or had children as I have lived with infertility for fourteen years. If you haven’t heard my story I shared it in episode 2 of this podcast show.
I had unforgiveness and I thought very badly about myself. This led to a lot of sadness, depression and anxiety. I wasn’t aware that it was my own thought patterns that often lead to me getting upset.
I now think much more positively. I am generally more kind and considerate, I have much less jealousy in my heart and when I do you have it there, I replace it with gratitude acknowledging all the beautiful gifts that God has brought into my life.
It no longer takes residence in my mind, it is not welcome there. Replacing jealousy with gratitude is so uplifting and wonderful.
Replacing unforgiveness with forgiving those who have hurt me restores relationships, let’s go of old hurts, and helps me to recognise that I am not perfect. I know that there have been many times in my life where I have needed forgiveness, and so if I want forgiveness in my own life I recognise it is so important to forgive others.
If I feel down about myself I now replace those thoughts with the truth of what scripture says.
When I do still have moments where I feel inadequate, incapable, or even unattractive I am reminded to not worry so much but to take diligent steps each day to do what I am called to do today. I no longer need to worry About being enough, he has created me and that is enough.
I find my identity now in Christ and My sufficiency is in him.
Another thing that I have found to be really helpful in creating more positive, uplifting and beautiful thoughts in my mind has been considering what I watch on television, the movies that I see and the music that I listen to.
Now I’m not trying to be your mum, but being aware of the types of programs that we watch and the music that we listen to is definitely something that has played a role In transforming my mind.
I used to watch whatever was on television and it didn’t matter what the content was. It’s funny you know because I started to be affected by it. I’m now more much more thoughtful when it comes to the type of media that I consume because for me personally watching and listening to positive, joyful and uplifting content has played a big part in what I think about day to day.
We are called to love our neighbours as ourselves. It was only recently after listening to an episode of the God-centred success podcast that this verse took on new meaning for me.
If you read that verse found in Mark 12 verses 30 to 31 and meditate on it, it will help to transform your thinking in this area.
I never used to understand the importance of loving myself, not in a self-centred or selfish way but just in recognition of the life that God has created in me As he did in you.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.
To first love our neighbours we must know how to care for and love ourselves.
Part of loving ourselves is being aware of what we think about and filling our minds with positive, kind and uplifting Thoughts. When we are more patient with ourselves and give ourselves Grace we can pass that on to others more freely. When We are more grateful for what we have been given, we are able to show gratitude to others.
When we refer to ourselves with kindness and understanding we speak with love and grace.
When our thoughts are filled with anger, jealousy, and ingratitude it will inevitably be spoken or acted upon which causes pain and unnecessary heartache to those around us. However conversely when our thoughts are filled with beauty, recognising the gift of life and filled with gratitude, our words will become sweet, lovely and uplifting.
Joy will begin to overflow and people will start to recognise a change in you.
I have definitely found this to be true in my own life.
Of course, we all have difficult times, challenges and trials and I’m not saying we need to have it all together, 100% of the time. However, I am saying that living a life overflowing with gratitude, joy, thanksgiving, forgiveness and appreciating the gift of life does make those difficult times easier to walk through.
There are some really great resources to overcoming negative thought patterns and becoming more aware of what you are thinking about.
One book that really helped me in this area is ‘Battlefield of the Mind’ by Joyce Meyer.
If you would like more information on how to take practical steps to renew your mind I encourage you to read this book that helps you to recognise the importance of knowing what you are thinking about, creating positive thought patterns, and transforming your attitude in life.
There are also so many passages of scripture that encourage you to renew your thought patterns and become conscious of how you think and therefore behave.
There is one last verse I would like to share with you today.
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
You can listen to the podcast episode this blog post is based on here.
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