I'm sharing this post from Lysa Terkeurst because she explains so well how the brain gets stuck in thought patterns (or ruts). This helps us understand why we think the way we do, even when we don't want to. Understanding this topic helped free me from guilt and helped me heal my own thoughts.
Thought for the day: We won't develop new responses until we develop new thoughts.
Brain research shows that every conscious thought we have is recorded on our internal hard drive known as the cerebral cortex. Each scratches the surface much like an Etch A Sketch. When we have the same thought again, the line of the original thought is deepened, causing what's called a memory trace. With each repetition the trace goes deeper and deeper, forming and embedding a pattern of thought. When an emotion is tied to the spot pattern, the memory trace grows exponentially stronger.
We forget most of our random thoughts that are not tied to an emotion. However, we retain the ones we think often that have an emotion tie to them. For example, if we've had the thought over and over again that we are "unglued", and that thought is tied to a strong emotion, we deepen the memory trace when we repeatedly access that thought. The same is true if we decide to stuff a thought - we'll perpetrate that stuffing. Or if we yell, we'll keep yelling.
We want develop new responses until we develop new thoughts. That's why renewing our minds with new thoughts is crucial. New thoughts come from new perspectives. The Bible encourages this process, which only makes sense because God created the human mind and understands better than anyone how it functions.
A foundational teaching of Scripture is that it is possible to be completely changed through transformed thought patterns. That's exactly the point of today's key Scripture (Romans 12:2). Scripture also teaches that we can accept or refuse thoughts. Instead of being held hostage by old thought patterns, we can actually capture our thoughts and allow the power of Christ's TRUTH to change them:
"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." 2 Corinthians 10:5
I don't know about you, but understanding how my brain is designed makes these verses come alive in the whole new way for me. Taking thoughts captive and being transformed by thinking in new ways isn't some New Age form of mind control. It's biblical, and it's fitting with how God wired are our brains.
I can't control the things that happen to me each day, but I can control how I think about them. I can say to myself, "I have a choice to have destructive thoughts or constructive thoughts right now." I can wallow in what's wrong and make things worse, or I can ask God for a better perspective to help me see good even when I don't feel good. Indeed when we gain new perspectives, we can see new ways of thinking. And if we change the way we think, we'll change the way we act and react
For more from Lysa Terkeurst, check out Proverbs 31