Our thoughts are powerful. What we think determines how we feel. How we feel sets the tone and course for not only our day, but all those with whom we interact.
What we think determines what we are capable of. If we determine to do something, most likely we will. Conversely, if we decide something is unattainable or impossible for us, we might never even try it to begin with.
Just as the old Proverb says:
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…Proverbs 23:7 (KJV)
I can think of a few instances where I learned firsthand the power of the mind. The first was childbirth.
Don’t worry this is not a post about childbirth or how everyone should approach childbirth. However an expectant mother wants to approach childbirth is the right way for her. There is no one right way.
For various reasons, I chose natural childbirth through hypno-birthing. Again, hear me out, I am not telling you this because I believe natural childbirth is the only way or for everyone. I just decided it was right for me.
Hypno-birthing is a method based upon intentionally training your body and mind to relax and think positively about pregnancy and birth. The theory behind it being that if you tense up, have negative or fearful thoughts, your body naturally fight the birthing process. Thus, making the experience harder and more painful.
Let me just share, not because I am pushing natural birth, but rather the power of the mind, I had three calm, peaceful and amazing births. Even my doctor called me following a birth to ask me what I did. He said he had never seen anyone do what I did before, and he wanted to share it with another patient considering a natural birth.
Moving forward I still use the methods I learned through hypno-birthing. I use them to relax or when I am having trouble falling asleep. I have even used the methods when I experience pain. It is amazing how effective focused thoughts and breathing can be in each of these scenarios.
The second was more recent. It was a Bible Study by Jennie Allen – Get Out of Your Head. I think after the isolation of 2020, we can all relate to feeling like we spent a little too much time inside our heads. I found that appealing and refreshing.
This Bible Study also included personal assessments and reflections. If I am honest, this was the part that appealed to me the least, but turned out to be the most revealing. Especially one exercise in particular – a Mind Map.
The Mind Map asked us to identify a dominant emotion or feeling in our life at present. Write down that emotion. Then write around it all the areas of our life and specify how they were contributing to that emotion.
Wow, talk about an eye opener! As I wrote down how I had been feeling and cataloged every little thing that contributed to that feeling I had an “ah-ha” moment. It was so clear why I felt the way I did. No wonder I felt that way. I felt validated.
There is something very powerful about the written word. Whether it’s making a to-do list. Naming our worries. Our hurts. Our emotions.
Just taking the time to name and document something has so much power. But more importantly, it is the first step toward freedom.
Until we identify hurts, we can’t heal.
Unless we identify what needs to be done, we might miss a vital step.
Unless we name our fears, we feel powerless to overcome them.
Unless we name our emotions, we get stuck feeling a certain way without even realizing it.
And that is exactly where I had landed. Getting stuck in a certain mindset without even realizing it. But guess what is the first step out of a negative mindset? Recognizing how we are feeling, what is contributing to it, and then course correcting.
Mapping out why I felt a certain way helped me tackle those feelings and move toward how I want to feel. It’s a process, but when we feel stuck, sometimes we just need an “ah-ha” moment to help move us toward greater freedom and away from where we don’t want to be.
This is one way we can live out 1 Corinthians 10:5:
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.(NIV)
Taking our thoughts captive begins by recognizing what we are thinking and determining if our thoughts are in alignment with how God views us. So today, let’s honestly assess our thoughts and answer the questions:
How am I feeling and why?
How would I like to feel?
Do the two align?
If not, what can we do to move toward how we want to feel?
Maybe this begins with making a Mind Map. Identifying all the contributing factors to our feelings. Then one-by-one addressing and reframing each element to point us to where we would ultimately like to land.
When we take our thoughts captive and align them with how God sees us, we live in the freedom and confidence God intends for us. Like me before making a Mind Map, so often we get stuck without realizing we are stuck.
Our minds are a powerful tool. We need to steward that tool well. Using it to build ourselves up and become the person God made us to become – confident and free.
Get Out of Your Head – A Study in Philippians by Jennie Allen
Get Out of Your Head – Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts by Jennie Allen