Do you ever just feel like your life is on a continual loop? Like you are just stuck in the same pattern day after day? It is often hard to avoid that as we muddle through our adult life with routines of work, school, parenting, and so much more. Whether we like it or not, we as humans tend to establish patterns in our lives. I have found that some people thrive on patterns while others grow weary of them. I am of the nature to implement routines and patterns wherever I can. It gives me a sense of stability and sense of control. But for those like my husband, it can become laborious and downright exhausting.
These outward patterns can be more easily identified, but recently I have been giving a lot of thought to the inward patterns of the mind. Sometimes I see these inward patterns displaying themselves as I go about my outward daily routines. When I pick up the same toys off the living room floor for the 8th time in one day, it is easy to become discouraged and frustrated. when I am putting the 3rd load of laundry into the washer, I begin to feel like no one notices all the work I do around here. When I wash yet another sink full of the never-ending pile of dishes, I begin to feel the weight of all the things I need yet to accomplish while knowing the kids tugging at my leg will never allow me to get it all done. As I allow these routines and thoughts to weigh me down, I am setting my pattern of thinking for the day. I am becoming the “Negative Nelly” that I rather emphatically deny to my husband that I am.
Have you ever argued with a 3-year-old? It’s a daily occurrence in our home right now. These tiny humans are the worst to argue with because they have little to no logic. It takes all the brain power you can muster to answer their question, “why can’t I have fruit snacks for breakfast?” for the biiiilllllionth time. You know they already know the answer but it is useless, and exhausting, and you just cannot understand why they keep asking… honestly! But imagine that same 3-year-old representing our negative thinking, the thoughts we have running through our minds at lightning speed with no finish line in sight. We logically know that we cannot expect our house to be immaculately clean all the time, or our children to never pick fights. Yet somehow, we cannot resist the urge to groan every time we see the toys all over the living floor, we cannot help but roll our eyes and yell “knock it off!” every time we hear the kids fighting in the other room. It becomes instinctual to react a certain way without even really knowing what we are doing. Just as our toddler is not taking the time to process the answer you give over and over, we are not taking the time to process what a messy house really means, or why our kids are frustrated. We habitually default to the same thoughts over and over because we have trained our minds to do so.
I am certainly no expert on the brain nor its patterns, but it is becoming painfully obvious to me that this cognitive loop of negative thinking has directly impacted my daily routines and has taken over my attitudes. I was reading through an interesting book on this topic called “Switch on your Brain” by Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Cognitive Neuroscientist. She says “As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain. As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.” She also says, “When you think, you build thoughts, and these become physical substances in your brain.” So this is what a leading cognitive neuroscientist has to say about the patterns of our thinking, but what does the Bible have to say, and does it fit with the science?
Here are some verses that relate to our mind:
“ For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” -Proverbs 23:7 So science is proving what Scripture already says.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” -Romans 12:2 God changes the way we think, and it is good and pleasing and perfect! Perspective!
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:5 Take every thought captive… is it even possible? God’s Word says it is. But how?
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”. -Philippians 4:8 Replace! Replace! Replace!
These verses are great to keep at the forefront of our minds when trying to combat our negativity. However, even with Scriptures like these in our minds, it can be a struggle to actually carry out the “replace method.” One very important key, I believe, is found in implementing Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” There is great power found in stillness, something most Americans, and many Christians, and especially moms, have no time for. When we have no time for prayer and meditation, our feelings, emotions, and thoughts will continue to call the shots. Take time to slow down, to be still before God, asking Him for His power to course through your mind as HE transforms your thoughts. This may not be an hour or two every morning. It could just be slowing down when we feel the negativity rising, and breathing a “Thank you God” in sincerity, knowing that God will continue to transform us from the inside out.
There are other Scriptures that highlight the power of our thoughts, but I hope you see the truth behind God’s timeless words. What you allow into your mind often decides your reality and ultimately your legacy. I am reminded of this verse in Exodus 34:7 which says “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” Sobering when we remember that not only do your thoughts shape your life but that they could also influence the lives of your children, their children, and generations after that. This is a heavy thing to consider, but isn’t it true that we often take on the energy of the other people in the room? If our children are hearing all our negative thoughts out loud, it is likely they will take on our negative attitude. I think it is safe to say we had better start working on our patterns of thinking! Our thoughts can determine our reality. So, as we continue to vacuum, dust, fold laundry, and do all those other mundane tasks, what do you choose as your reality? Are you going to let the frustrations of your day take over your thoughts and life? Or are you going to heed God’s Word and allow Him to transform your inward patterns of thinking as you take on the never-ending loop that is life.
This post was written by Rachel Poborsky. She is the sister of Chrystal Stauffer and the author of “RaisingPobos.” You can find her over on Instagram or Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/raisingpobos/