Check lists, help programs, making goals. Every day we are trying to break habits all because we want to see change in our lives. We know that transformation is a good thing, especially when we can see positive outcomes coming from it.
In Christian circles, Romans chapter 12 verse 2 is a scripture commonly heard. It says, "do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
This shows wanting change and transformation is Biblical. God wants us to have change even more than we do, because when this happens it becomes clearer to discern His will and know what His Spirit is saying.
This is a verse that I have been chewing on a lot over the past few years. Dr Caroline Leaf is a cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in communication pathology and she specialises in Neuropsychology. Having been interested in her work for a couple of years I had heard a few of her teachings and was privileged enough to hear her in person.
In her work she goes on to explain how negative thoughts are created. She says, "every moment of every day you are changing your brain with your thoughts in a positive or negative direction. Every time you think and choose, you cause structural change in your brain. Your thoughts impact your spirit, soul and body."
Imagine you are growing hundreds of tiny trees inside your brain, every thought you have is branching off one of those trees. Therefore if you have a negative thought it is constantly producing new branches. They can often be such small thoughts that we don't even recognise them.
But the question is how do we make consistent change?
For years people have been telling me, you need to change the way you're thinking, you need to change the direction your thoughts are going in. I had heard over and over again that it takes 21 days to change a habit. I would get to about 5 days and things would appear hard again.
It was only when I grasped the concept that we have authority over our brains, that I was able to identify the negative thoughts and make consistent changes.
Much like others I am in the process of changing my thought life, learning to recognise the negative and stop it before branches of negativity latch on. I would regularly stop and think, "why am I thinking like this?" "why is this happening?" "why, why, why!?" and I found even these questions would take me on a negative, downward spiral.
Instead I am learning to cut off those thoughts before they take a hold of a branch. This is how I have made consistent change.
Learning what is good, acceptable and perfect can be hard when our mind-sets are being conformed to the world. Living life following worldly things is not bad, until we stop obeying God and start leaving Him out of the picture. When He is not Lord of our situation, we need to make a change.
When my thought life would take me on a negative cycle, I found it hard to accept help or even understand others. I was so focused on myself, that I couldn't see anyone else. Living life following God felt like a maze I couldn't escape.
Pulling out a root can feel satisfying and easy, but not when there are layers of dirt to manoeuvre from on top of it. Instead of trees of negativity let's think and produce healthy, positive trees.
Published for Christian Today