I read a great quote not long ago that keeps rolling around in my head. “Don’t believe everything you think.” I love it because it is so true. How many times are you tempted to to think in grandiose terms of yourself or some of your abilities? When that happens to me, it usually isn’t long before the realities of life come along and bring me down to earth. Yes, I might have a good ability here, but if not for others that I work with, it would do me or anyone else absolutely no good!
The same goes for the many comments that repeatedly go on in my head that are horrendously negative. “You don’t deserve this honor/hard event.” “Who do you think you are to try that? You’ll never make it” “You are are a complete fake/hypocrite. Why do you keep doing this. Don’t you know GOD is tired of dealing with the likes of you?” Of course, there are multiple variations of the same recording that may be going on in your head as well. But you get the idea, don’t you?
Just as we need good food in our body to stay healthy, we need to feed our minds with the good and healthy in order for our minds and hearts to spew out good thoughts and words back to us.
How do we feed our minds?
Think of all the things you look at or listen to. They feed your mind. By far, the things you see are the most powerful. What are you reading, watching in movies, on TV, on your computer, on your phone? Anything you take in through your eyes will affect you powerfully.
Anything you hear or have heard affects you. This includes what you listen to in terms of music, on the radio, online, and in conversation.
Another powerful way your mind is fed is through memories. Think of all the things you were told as a child, either positive or negative, that come back to you and either encourage or discourage you!
These are all things that feed your mind. You can control much of what you watch and listen to. You don’t always control every conversation, of course. And you definitely can’t control interactions where people, even close people, lose their temper and lash out at you, saying hurtful things.
I had a relative that tended to go through phases and every so often, she lost her cool and verbally unloaded all her garbage on us. We didn’t live with her all the time, but we were there often enough to experience these episodes. Generally, she was very loving and put herself out for us from the time we were small children. But when these episodes happened, the best thing to do was just to let them play out. They didn’t last as long that way.
But it removed all the good that she did for us because it felt like she didn’t mean any of it. For me, the price was way too high. Having to listen to that long verbal tongue lashing was miserable. When I was young, I was totally powerless to do anything about it. When I was older, I did all I could to avoid it.
When I was a child, I talked like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
I Corinthians 13:11-13 ESV
How do we deal with the memories?
A meaningful apology can begin undoing the pain of those words. But an apology never came. Ever. I had other adults in my life as a child who “disciplined” in anger. Their words were often accusing and not helpful in growing me at all. Their “apologies” only made things worse! Somehow I walked away from the apologies feeling worse than before…and feeling like the whole event was basically my fault anyway. These “apologies” never took ownership of their part of the sin. So their words continued to dog me. If the apology you give does not take ownership of the sin you are confessing, you aren’t apologizing, you are blameshifting.
Choose to forgive even if no one apologizes
Of course, there is another side to it…fortunately. I can choose to forgive. Just as GOD did not hold my debt against me, I can choose to no longer hold the debt, which is a true debt, against them. They never did ask my forgiveness in a true way. But I had to choose to forgive them. Yes, the historic fact still exists. The things they said that hurt did happen. I can’t pretend they didn’t. But I have chosen to forgive that debt and give it to GOD since He has forgiven my even larger debt.
Once I do this, I no longer can go back to that sin that was done to me and ruminate on it. That is part of what I covenant to do when I forgive. I won’t dwell on it anymore. No more resentment.
Do you know what happens? I find that the person who is freed from this sin and its consequences is me! I no longer have to live with resentment and bondage to the person I was resenting. And with time, the memory of those words fades.
Feed your mind with GOD’s Word that is applicable to your life and is life building
Another thing that has helped me and others, is feeding my mind with GOD’s Word. This happens in many ways. One way is through weekly worship and hearing GOD’s Word preached. Another is through time spent with a small group of people that you get to know well around GOD’s Word as you worship and pray together. Daily or near daily time in GOD’s Word also feeds your mind. Another thing that helps feed your mind really well, not by itself, but specific to your personal struggles, is memorizing GOD’s Word. Longer sections help more than 1 verse segments. You get the context better.
My advice is to memorize passages that build you up in areas where you are weak. Also, there are a number of areas in the New Testament that talk about putting off one thing and putting on something else. They are very helpful for a specific area you struggle with. One example is here where I talked about anxiety. You may want to memorize some specific Psalms or passages in Isaiah that remind you of who GOD is. What areas do you struggle with the most? Having those passages memorized will help you bring them to mind much faster when you need them for comfort or encouragement.
These are just a few ways to feed your mind and heart so the words that come to you will be positive words of encouragement more often and less often words of accusation.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me
—put it into practice.
And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9 ESV