I’m currently in a place in my healing journey that I’m able to fully understand and take ownership of the truth that my thoughts - what I’m thinking - create specific results in my life. I started out this podcast talking about the power of our mind in episode number two. What I didn’t know was how significant that tripartite nature of man - that is, the interaction of the mind, the body, and the spirit - was going to be for my own healing and wholeness. Since I’ve released that episode, I’ve had to learn how to manage my mind, reframe stories of my past that I’ve believed…sometimes since I was a little girl…and be intentional about choosing to eradicate the lies I’ve believed and insert truth in their place. And not just insert or substitute truth, but to get the healing necessary to be able to fully believe and live out that truth.
I’ve had to battle discouraging messages that say that I’m only a fraction of the whole person I used to be when my husband was alive. I’ve had to battle messages that make me want to play small because I’ve been wounded so deeply. That this is now my identity. A widow. A widow by suicide. I’ve had to battle the messages that say mine is overly complicated grief that will leave me crippled for a long, long time. Unable to stand with the guts and determination to use my voice to cheer others on to healing. I’ve also had to battle messages that say that I can’t do it as a single person. Whatever “it” is. So many messages.
And when you’ve had trauma in one area of your life, you would not believe how past trauma and wounds start showing up from other areas of your life. It’s like one gaping wound just exposes all the other wounds - big or small - that have been hiding behind Bandaids. Bandaids that you weren’t even aware were there. Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve learned to cope, to hide, to deny, just so that you can continue on in life. Bandaids.
That’s part of the fascinating thing about our brain. Its job is to keep us safe and alive. The trouble comes when your brain thinks its sufficient to cope or hide because, well, we’ve done it before and look, we’re still alive. So that option must be a safe one. So, it’s going to try to convince you every time to continue doing the same thing. Even if it’s just a Bandaid on a wound that very much needs surgery.
In many places, the Bible talks about our mind, our thinking, and our words.
We are given an imperative statement to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” In Colossians 3:2. We are told that we are to search for, believe in, and think about the truth in Philippians 4:8. We’re told that death and life are in the power of the tongue in Proverbs 18:21. And we are encouraged to have our minds renewed by truth in Romans 12:2. There is a significant reason our Creator wanted us to hear this. One, because we’re likely to need to have transformed thinking, and two, because we can have our minds transformed.
So, here is where the full weight of responsibility of taking ownership of what we’re thinking comes into play. We, you and me, get to choose EVERY SINGLE TIME what we want to think about something - whether that be a circumstance, a past event, a word spoken to us, or even a message running through our head. We get to create a “story” if you will about everything we experience in life. And out of that story, we get decide if we’re a victim or a victor. Truly. You get to decide. Think about a minute. Think about an experience have you had - maybe from the past or even more recently - that you could tell me about in story form. How do you tell that story? And what role do you play in that narrative - victim or victor? Not sure what a victim is?
The definition is a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action. Now this might be true, that you’ve had an experience when you’ve been harmed or injured by someone else’s wrongdoing. But perceiving yourself in that story as a victim of such wrongdoing develops a pervasive and universal victim mentality where one frequently or constantly perceives oneself to be a victim. You are unable to see any other perspective of the story other than your harm or injury.
Listen, being a survivor of suicide (which by the way, doesn’t mean I’ve attempted suicide and survived. A survivor of suicide is someone who is a family member or friend of someone who has died by suicide…just to clear that up.) But being a survivor of suicide can make you think you have every right to play the victim. Honestly, you do. But it certainly won’t serve you in the long run. I have a story. Some of it might look sad. My present situation might look sad, too. But it’s the way I choose to think about it that will make me the victor and not the victim.
A victor is defined as a person who defeats an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition. Listen, we’re in a battle for our life, for our minds, for our spirit. If you haven’t heard it yet, go back and listen to episode number 20 - You Have A Target On Your Back. We are in a battle constantly for our lives. The enemy would love nothing better than to convince you you’re a victim and take you down. To keep you from living, fully living, in freedom. He wants to keep you believing that something has been taken away from you, or that you’re lacking something, or that you’ve deserved the lot you’ve been given in life because you’re not worthy, or valuable, or loved enough. Don’t let him win! Choose to write another story - a better story. Decide to choose to think differently about it. Here’s the crazy thing. You get to. You get to choose the narrative of your own story. You get to choose what you think about it, and how you feel about it. No one else has that kind of power over your mind but you.
Wow! Can you believe that? Now let me caution you. That brain we were talking about - the one that is that is keeping you alive - has a motivational triad and that is to 1) to seek pleasure, 2) to avoid pain, and 3) to seek efficiency. So, if you’ve lived in “victim mentality” for so long, and you’ve created neural ruts of this “victim mentality” thinking, then the “efficiency” part of the triad is going to continue to offer up and give evidence to support this kind of thinking. Whoa. What? Now, before you get angry at your brain for just doing its job, let me tell you about the Reticular Activating System in the brain and how it’s designed to work for us. The Reticular Activating System (or RAS) is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information so that the information of focus gets through. Your RAS takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it. So, for example, if you are focused on a message like, “I’m only a fraction of the whole person I used to be when my husband was alive,” and then say to yourself, “I’m so broken,” and ask yourself negative questions like, “Why can’t I do anything right?” then the RAS gets busy creating a filter to answer the question and give evidence of the information in focus. The filter keeps you from seeing anything else but that “focus message.” Your brain will then go through all the past files and pull up the ones that give evidence that this message is true. Then, in your daily life, it will continue to scan for reasons why this message can be proven to be true. It will filter out any other “past file” or present evidence that this message is not true. Now, don’t be upset that your brain is doing this. That’s its job. Simply. To be efficient and to do what you’re asking it to do. Didn’t you say, “Why can’t I do anything right?” It’s not trying to sabotage you. It’s just trying to be efficient and answer your question. Sadly, when we’re in the habit of asking ourselves really awful questions like these - and many more - we create negative patterns of thinking that consume our lives. We just think we’re a negative person, or that we’ve got really bad luck, or life just sucks for us and no one else. But we’re creating that story. And our brain is providing evidence that it’s true. We don’t get to see evidence of the beautiful life we actually are living. And have lived. In spite of harm, or injury, or wrongdoings done to us.
God made our brains so intricately beautiful. Our brains are fascinating! And truly all it wants to do is provide answers to your questions, solutions to your problems, and keep you alive. So that caution earlier? It’s there to warn you that if you’ve been thinking in a negative way for a long time, it’s going to take some persistence using your will to remind your brain of your new narrative. The telling of the new story that you’re not a victim to the events or experiences of your past, or even the circumstances of your present, will create new neural ruts that will quickly become recognized and familiar to your brain. Out of this new “victor” story you will begin to find more and more evidence in your life that you can thrive, succeed, prevail, and overcome. You will find more and more positive proof of the empowering questions you begin to ask yourself like, “Why is my life so filled with love and good things?” The Reticular Activating System will get busy showing you all of that good evidence of love and abundance in your life. All else will get filtered out.
So, I ask you, friend: What are you thinking? What’s the narrative to your story? Are you as surprised as I was to learn how much power you have over your brain and what thoughts it produces? Are you excited to know that you can change the perspective of your entire world just by changing your thoughts? “Think upon things that are true, honorable, and right. Think upon things that are pure, lovely, and admirable. Think upon things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” - Philippians 4:8. Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we are to take every thought captive - that is, to taking every loose, negative thought and emotion and impulse, and turn it so that it’s in obedience to the truth of Christ. There is a significant reason our heavenly Father wanted us to hear this. One, because we need to have transformed thinking, and two, because we can have our minds transformed.
So, I want to challenge you today, friend, to take on the full weight of responsibility of taking ownership of what you’re thinking. Choose EVERY SINGLE TIME to think like a victor about your present circumstances, a past event, a word spoken to you or about you, or even a message running through your head. Create a “story” about everything you experience in life that creates life-giving results. Rehearse it. Persistently. Change your patterns of thinking today. Truly, you get to decide how your story goes. I pray you choose another beautiful life!