Shatter Unhealthy Patterns and Transform the Way You Think

Do you know that you have voices in your head?

One voice speaks life into you, and the other death.

Just like in older cartoons, I often imagine an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.

This imagery is like the voices we hear in our heads.

We have one voice that is feeding us life, love, and confidence.

The other voice is tearing us down with negativity, fear, and discouragement.

I want to illustrate this concept with a story. It is a Native American parable:

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil — he is anger, envy, sorrow, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, insecurity, lies and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good — he is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you — and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

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Photo by Virginia Johnson on Unsplash

So let me ask you…

Which ‘wolf’ are you feeding? The good wolf or the evil wolf?

Both are speaking to you daily — which one are you allowing to win?

We know from the Bible that God has already overcome the world. It says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

God promises that we will have trouble in this world, but also assures us that He has overcome. The good news is that when we are in Christ, having given our lives to Him, we are also Overcomers!

1 John 5:4–5 says, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

So, if we are Overcomers because we are in Christ, how is it that our thoughts don’t always reflect that?

How is it that negative, unhelpful thoughts can invade our mind and take us out of the game for awhile?

Why can’t we get rid of them..or overcome them?

Why can’t we feel peace and joy ALL the time if we are Overcomers?

It is because the enemy is always at work and wants to speak words of discouragement over us.

Those negative and fearful thoughts are not from God — they are told to us by the evil one.

The enemy will say things like:

“You’re not good enough,”

“She’s prettier than you,”

“You’ll never be able to do that,”

“Nobody loves you,” etc.

God would NOT tell us those things.

God would NEVER feed our mind with that type of nonsense.

So let me ask you something…how are your thought patterns?

What goes through your mind on a daily basis?

Do you ever stop to notice what you’re thinking about?

Is your mind generally filled with joy, encouragement, positivity, faith, and love?

Or do you find your mind often wanders into a place of worry, fear, envy, and discouragement?

We tend to sway back and forth between the two, but I’m wondering — what are your thought-habits?

Like the software that runs your laptop, there is software running our minds. It can run without us even realizing it is there. Our mind begins to think and we accept that though. Like the software that runs in our favourite machines, our mind has certain programs that run in it too.

If you spend more time on the negative end of the spectrum, I have a few questions for you:

1. How can you change your thought patterns so that they are more God focussed?

2. How can you dispel the lies of the enemy and hold your thoughts captive to Christ?

You might say “I don’t know.”

If so, you are not alone!

To answer these questions, I want to share another concept with you.

This story illustrates where your thought patterns or software programs may have originated from.

And how things from our past shape our current mindset.

Maybe you can relate to this just like I did…

The Elephant Story

A gentleman was walking through an elephant camp, and he saw that the elephants weren’t being kept in cages or held by the use of chains. All that was holding them back from escaping the camp, was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs.

As the man gazed upon the elephants, he was completely confused as to why the elephants didn’t just use their strength to break the rope and escape the camp. They could easily have done so, but instead, they didn’t try to at all.

Curious and wanting to know the answer, he asked a trainer nearby why the elephants were just standing there and didn’t try to escape.

The trainer replied:

“When the elephants are very young and much smaller, we use the same size rope to tie them. The elephants test the rope and because it is strong enough to hold them at that age, they learn that they cannot break free from the confines of it. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe that no matter how hard they try, they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

There is only one reason that the elephants weren’t breaking free and escaping from the camp:

Over time, they adopted the belief that it wasn’t possible.

Human beings are a lot like elephants. Many of us go through life, hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something because we failed at it before.

Did you know that many of our thought patterns form before we are 5 years old?!

From birth to age 5, a child’s brain develops more than at any other time in life. And early brain development has a lasting impact on a child’s ability to learn and succeed in school and life. The quality of a child’s experiences in the first few years of life — positive or negative — helps shape how their brain develops.”

Depending on your experiences in your early years, you may have developed unhealthy thought patterns. Those patterns, or programs, may still be running in you today.

These programs were not installed in you by God — they were installed by the enemy…and this software is filled with viruses…

It can be very hard to live a life of joy and peace if you:

Struggle believing you’re not good enough.

See other people doing the things or having the things that you want and you feel envy rise up in you.

Are held back by old, outdated beliefs that the enemy planted in your mind as a child or teenager.

Avoid risk because of a limiting belief about yourself.

Still have someone else’s limiting beliefs about you running through your mind and don’t know how to break the negative thought cycle.

All those installed negative, limiting programs, or thoughts, are from the enemy.

We have two choices — throw out the whole computer (not advised 😉 or fix the virus.

The good news is, we have a God who is in the business of healing and the viruses running in you can be cured. Your thought patterns and virus-laden programs can actually be transformed.

In Romans 12:2 we read, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Scripture teaches that by the power of the Holy Spirit it’s possible for God to completely transform your thoughts patterns. And you are an active participant in this.

We don’t have to live lives conformed to the patterns of this world.

We don’t have to stay stuck in patterns of negative actions and reactions.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

So we know that when we are in Christ, He is transforming us into His image!

God wants you to experience freedom from negative thinking too!

He wants you to hold your thoughts captive to him and live a joyful, peaceful and love-filled life.

And He is there to help you with that!

For many years, I had a negative cycle of thoughts running through my mind. The enemy told me many things about who I was that were untrue. The problem was at the time I believed these things. For decades this thought pattern ran through my head and I didn’t know how to break it.

Not long after I became a Christian I felt wrecked and was at the end of my rope. I was in a place of complete surrender to God and a wonderful woman prayed over me. When God intervened with His amazing healing powers, that negative cycle finally broke.

Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

So we see from these scriptures that God wants us to experience freedom in Him. He doesn’t want us to be afraid, held back by our limiting mindset. He wants us to experience the abundant life — the one He died for us to have!

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief (enemy) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came to so that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The enemy is always at work, yet we can experience freedom in Christ because He has “overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve! CHOOSE not to accept the false boundaries and limitations created by the past or by the enemy.

Are you held back by your past or still tied to something that you could break free from with God’s help?

If so, I would encourage you to walk in the freedom He promises you!

Choose to push the boundaries and take a risk to step into the life God has for you.

“Demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5)

Freedom is 100% possible and it can come from making a few small adjustments:

1. Spend time with Him

The more time you spend reading God’s word, praying and being in a relationship with Him, the more you will feel mental freedom. Colossians 3:2a says “Set your minds on things that are above…”

To change our perception or negative thought patterns, we need to change what we’re thinking about. If we’re setting our minds on things that are below, here on earth, we won’t be able to see what God is doing through us and in us.

2. Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude for all God has given you will increase your energy, well-being and stress levels.

“Gratitude impacts on mental and physical well-being. Positive psychology and mental health researchers in the past few decades have established an overwhelming connection between gratitude and good health. Keeping a gratitude journal causes less stress, improves the quality of sleep, and builds emotional awareness. Gratitude is positively correlated to more vitality, energy, and enthusiasm.”

3. Connect with a Community

We become the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with so choose others who are healthy and helpful. Find a group of Christian friends who love and support your growth in Christ.

Evidence shows that connecting with others and forming good relationships — with family, friends and the wider community — are important for mental wellbeing. Building stronger, broader social connections in your life can increase your feelings of happiness and self-worth.”

4. Notice your Thinking

Pay close attention to what you are focusing on. Which wolf are you feeding? Similar to people who keep a journal when they are watching their eating, you can journal your daily thoughts.

Keep record of what you think about and see what shows up. What thoughts tend to come up often? Which ones are God-focused and which are not?

Proverbs 23:7 explains, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. If your heart is pure and good, focused on the things of God, then you will interpret life much differently than if it is focused on things that the enemy brings to your mind.

5. Change your Thought Patterns

Instead of basing your thoughts on your circumstance, base them on what you CHOOSE to think about a situation. We have choice over our interpretation of our circumstances. This is a tough concept to get our head around and it can take time.

Mental health, especially thinking patterns, can hold us back from so much joy. Changing the way we think is one of the first steps. As I worked through my own depression and anxiety, changing my thought patterns was pivotal in my healing. God is the ultimate healer and He gives us free will to think what we want.

Let’s go through an example of how this might show up in your life…

Think about the story you told yourself when you woke up this morning…

Did you tell yourself that today would be a great day OR did you reluctantly roll out of bed and move slowly to the shower thinking “ugh another day”?

Did you have hope and positivity OR dread and sadness inside?

Were you looking at the world through a joyful OR a discouraged lens?

Were you focused on God’s plan OR your plan?

Did you create a story that served you moving forward or one that made you feel negative, stuck or guilty?

You can wake up every day and ask yourself:

“What am I choosing to see today?”

The answer could be this:

“I am choosing to see beauty, regardless of the circumstances. I am going to focus on being at peace and practicing gratitude for everything I have in my life. I am going to focus on God and His plan for me, not what I wish I had or how I wish it looked.”

As you tackle all the ‘opportunities’ life throws at you, you can create a story that moves you closer to God, instead of one that holds you back.

While in jail, Paul tells the people of Philippi, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11–13)

Paul is showing us that we have the choice to be content, and even joyful, in all circumstances…

With God’s strength.

How can YOU be joyful when things aren’t going your way?

You can look to Him…

If you feel this is a struggle, reach out to a counsellor or life coach who can help you do this in a healthy way. As a coach myself, I have created a powerful and transformational activity that I will share in the FREE downloadable guidebook (see link below). This is my signature program called The STORY System and it has helped so many people gain mental freedom (including me). Download the guidebook for info on this technique and how you can implement it in your thought life.

As I mentioned above, one of my favourite verses in Romans says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

When you can hold your thoughts captive to Christ and allow your mind to be transformed by Him, you will understand God’s will for your life on a whole new level.

This is a powerful place to be because you are no longer held back by limiting beliefs and fear.

You are able to walk down the path that He has for you — confidently courageously and Christ-focussed.

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Photo by Ari He on Unsplash

Even through the clouds, we can see that He is there, rising above and creating new and powerful thoughts in our minds that serve both Him and us!

It is a beautiful way to live life…and a path to transformation and freedom!

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