Fear, insecurity, hate, anger, hopelessness, discouragement are all based on the lies we tell ourselves. Negative emotions are things that we pay a LOT of attention to, as our inner minds wind up in reaction to some news we just heard, a life event, or upcoming decision.
I can recall what was playing in my brain recently, “Surgery? I have to have surgery? My business will go in the toilet since I am self-employed. I have all this chronic pain and don’t heal well from trauma, and now they want me to add a surgery to the list? With my luck, I won’t heal correctly, or it will take a super long time. Plus, how will I manage my special needs son during this time. Great, another reminder that I don’t have any family, therefore no help after surgery. My son will freak out, and as usual, I will need to assure him, when I am the one that needs comforting. I will probably throw up from the anesthetic, like the last four times. This will surely flare up my fibromyalgia and it will become unmanageable.”
Phew, that was a LOT of chit-chat going on in my amygdala. None of that is true, of course, but it felt so real when I was having those reactions, that without pursuing its verity, I start a whole planning session on how to escape unavoidable impending disaster. The chit-chat we all have in our brains, based on a core feeling, coupled with messages we have heard over and over in our lives, can be inspiring, or very destructive, unless we use the power of the Holy Spirit to conform our thinking to the TRUTH.
What if we could became VERY aware of the fact that much of that chit chat isn’t really a true expression of who we are or how our life is, or based on what God is in our lives, but merely the constant conversation that our inner mind is having about our life experiences. Right or wrong, there it is, 24/7. Sadly, far too often we actually believe all that negative chit-chat and use it to form opinions about ourselves and our lives. And those opinions become actions, and then, watch out, we have become what our emotional brain was spasmodically thinking.
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7
It is a fact that the inner brain is not capable of the things that our frontal cortex is, such as common sense, fact checking, self-control. It just sits there 24/7 and pops out split-second emotional reactions to things that happening around us. Emotions and reactions are not truth. They are just feelings. These feeling will betray the things that we believe in our hearts, so we must pay attention to the core that those feelings come from, but the chit-chat that goes on in there is not reality, but merely a mirror of our souls, right or wrong.
Also bear in mind, that the amygdala is the keeper of all the wrong, hurtful, non-factual statements that authoritative, powerful, or even abusive people, parents, siblings, teachers, doctors have ever said to us or implied about us. This part of our brain has little discrimination. It houses anything that created a strong emotion in us at one point, and often at a very young, impressionable age. It even houses our own impressions of things (right or wrong), that were formed as a child without very sophisticated emotional ability. Just raw, unfiltered feelings. Sometimes it keeps recalling the childhood reactions over and over, and we never give ourselves the chance to see things from our adult mind and change our opinion concerning an event.
Have you ever noticed that when your mind seems to chat a lot about fearful things and anxiety, that you come to believe that you are intrinsically a fearful and anxious person? The true danger is realized when we start to believe the conversations that form in our emotional brain and allow them form us into a different kind of person than God created us to be.
We will never be able to control all those flitting thoughts that come and go, and cannot control that instant feeling that we get about something, until we can re-write the wrong messages in our souls. That is life. That is part of being a human capable of many types of thoughts and feelings. That is what makes us truly powerful, and God-like, unlike any other creature on the planet.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Genesis 1:26
However, it is when we let those thoughts, which were formed in the very unreliable inner brain, begin to define us, that capabilities passed on to us from God, in His creation moment, become our worst enemy. He put that part of your brain there, so you can have emotions and not be a flat line. He also put it there to keep us safe, and to warn us not to make the same mistake twice (like burning our hand on the stove, or getting into unsafe relationships). Consider it to be your early warning system, but it is very raw, and unfiltered. He didn’t put it there to inform you of absolute truth, but merely that which you tell yourself about life, and your inner being. Some of the things we tell ourselves are lies!
Telling the difference between truth and untruth comes from a different part of our brain and from our spirit, which has been enlightened by His truth, through the power of the Holy Spirit, if you are a follower of the Father of Light. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, you can learn to shape your responses to things, based more on truth, as you allow the washing of His Word, to change how you think.
Emotional relief will never be realized by trying to become less aware of those thoughts, or by chastising ourselves for them, or by denying them in any way. True freedom in Christ is achieved by becoming fully aware of these thoughts, to know where they come from, to know they are not fact-checked, to know that they have no power over us, unless we allow them to take up residency in our souls. You have to become acutely aware of the source, whether it be the Great Deceiver, who delivers us ideas wrapped in partial truth, so that they are easy to acceptable, or the Light of the World, who delivers 100% truth 100% of the time.
The goal here is to allow the negative, scary, mournful, and anxious things to flow right on out, as we make conscious decisions to eschew all that is not truth, but so often we try to change their power over us by blocking up their escape route and encapsulating them inside of ourselves. That is when we hear the same thoughts over and over. The more they bounce, the more we are convinced of their truth.
“Now I lay me down” becomes a terrifying hour of the day, as the lack of daytime distractions and the noise of our lives recede, and we have no choice but to hear the clamor of our emotional minds. It is at those quiet times, that we can most become aware of and accused by the rant in our inner brain.
“You are a failure. You will never live another day outwith excruciating pain. It is hopeless. You are an ineffective parent. What a bad marital partner you are. You will probably die if you have this medical procedure. You failed at sticking to your food plan today. You can never deal with stress calmly. You always freak out. What an anxious person you are. You didn’t try hard enough today.”
Ever notice how we get to slam number five, and barely even hear the rest on the list, because we have decided to take up residence with one of the first ones? The rest of the list doesn’t care. Those thoughts are happy to plague you later, once you are not so distracted by one of the others. The emotional brain will keep functioning as intended.
Friends, what if we could become so aware of this aspect of our minds, and could use it as a tool for our betterment, rather than a tool of destruction? What if we took the time to identify wrong thoughts, and no longer believed them? What if we got to the point where they had NO power over us, and we could use all that head-space to do productive and positive things? The things that God put us here to do?
How much freedom would that be?
Journey with me into a lifestyle of seeing the thoughts of the emotional brain for what they are, and for what they are NOT. Come with me to a place where you give no place to chit-chat that would rob you of the wherewithal to pursue your passions, and the calling of your Creator.