When it comes to change, there are a few different ways of seeing it and seeing why we need to change that keeps us stuck:
- Some of us don’t think we need to change. We aren’t perfect, but we aren’t terrible in our opinion. There is some hidden system known only to us, but that system tells us we aren’t as bad as an employee, child, parent or spouse as other people.
- We’ve tried to change, and it didn’t work. So, it must not be worth it. Which takes us quickly back to the first spot, we don’t need to change then.
- I’d change, but I can’t because and we fill in the blank. That could be something from our past, someone in our present. But the other person is keeping us stuck where we are. This is the person who changes jobs and keeps working for a boss that doesn’t see how amazing they are. The problem is, they keep running out of bosses. In this person, they hold others responsible for their problems, their pain. This is the view that the problem is out there. And as long as the problem is out there, I don’t have to change or take responsibility for it.
- Or, have you ever said or heard someone say, “That’s not me. That’s not who I am. It was just once.” But it wasn’t just once, and most of the time, we are blind to our blind spots.
- Sometimes we shrug it off. We’ll say things like, “well that’s just how life goes.” We rationalize things as a way to protect ourselves. We often do this if we grew up in a chaotic home or are related to an addict or an alcoholic. Unknowingly, this is a defense mechanism for us and keeps us from having to engage hard parts of our lives.
- Connected to this is “this is just the way I am.” I’m just loud; I’m just controlling, fearful, I worry about everything. What this does is it gives us a way out. I don’t have to change because this is how I am. What if, that is causing problems in our closest relationships or keeping us from experiencing life.
When it comes to change, we have all kinds of opinions on the possibility of change and how it happens.
What’s fascinating to me is how the bible, psychologists, and neuroscientists say the same thing about change and your brain (the bible just said it first): The brain, your mind is crucial. It is powerful.
Dr. Daniel Amen called America’s most popular psychiatrist, and a neuroscientist says that your brain is involved in everything you do and everything you are, including how you think, feel, act and how well you get along with people. That when your brain works right, you work right. When your brain is troubled, you are more likely to have trouble in life.
Craig Groeschel said: You cannot have a positive life when you have a negative mind.
Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul writing in the New Testament said in his letter to the church in Philippi: Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell (or think) on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
The writer of the book of Hebrews in the NT told us: to pay close attention, pay attention to what you pay attention to. The idea of attention, what we focus on is all over scripture.
As Craig Groeschel says, Your life is always moving in the direction of your strongest thoughts.
It’s the idea that what fires together, stays together. The more you think about anything, no matter what it is, the more your brain gives real estate to that subject. So, and this is key at least for me because I’m not a naturally optimistic person (and let’s be honest, our culture is not optimistic, just turn on social media), but if you repeatedly focus your thoughts on negative experiences (their words hurt me) those negative thoughts get wired more deeply into our brains.
Have you noticed that you recall negative experiences faster and easier than positive ones? It’s called negative bias. We recall negative things; words said to us, negative emotions more quickly and we remember negative experiences longer than positive ones.
It’s why you can remember being left out at school, not picked on the team, what your parent or guidance counselor said in school, the feedback from a boss over a decade ago.
One neuroscientist coined the phrase the survival of the busiest to explain this: that the more we think specific thoughts, both unhealthy and healthy, the more powerful they become.
This is why, the apostle Paul writing in the New Testament said in his letter to the church in Rome said: Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Our mental habits, what we give our attention to, shape our brain, which in turn forms our behaviors.
What Romans 12 is telling us is how we align our minds with our feelings and what God is doing in our lives.
I believe to see the change in our lives; we need to understand the power of our minds and how much they shape our heart and behaviors.