Is your mind the same thing as your brain? Well, your brain is an organ; your mind isn’t. Which sounds crazy, but there you have it.

To which neuroscientists reply, why are you relying on such a distinction? What else is behavior but the result of brain biology? Yet the fact that criminals are treated more harshly if their mind (motives, anger, antisocial feelings…) made them do it than if their brain (aberrant activity patterns, pathological circuitry…) did shows just how deeply average folks believe that mind and brain are distinct.[1]

Circumstances, observations and arguments can change our mind, but none of them can change our brain, that “three-pound slab of tofu-textured tissue inside our skull.”[2]

Our mind drives everything.

We have a good mind to (or half a mind to, if we’re not at full strength) because we have a goal in mind, unless it’s at the back of our mind and we can no longer bear it in mind, which makes us bloody minded every time we think about it. So we change your mind, or maybe we don’t mind at all and we keep an open mind. But so many things spring to mind at this point that our mind boggles and we quit, which is a big weight off our mind.

We control what resides in our mind, either by intent or by omission. We put it there, or we don’t bother to keep it out. Which means that we have the power to change our mind, to change how we think and what we believe and thereby change who we are.

Christ-followers have the power to change who they are when they’re reborn into God’s kingdom. They’re no longer who they were. They can continue living as they did and believing what they did, but they now have the power and resource to become new. And most of the transition takes place in their mind, as they displace the things they used to think about the way they thought about them and replace them with the truth and reality found only in the Bible.

Of course, it’s not easy to change our mind. It’s like body-building. It takes exercise and commitment. But the issue is not “Is it possible?” The issue is “Are you motivated?”

You don’t have to do it all at once. You can begin to change your life by changing your mind about one thing that is holding you back or by correcting one lie you allowed yourself to believe that went on to affect, support or pervert other things you believe.

Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz offers a handy four-step approach that you repeat daily (Remember? It’s like body-building).[3]

Re-label. It’s like cleaning out a filing cabinet, one file at a time. Pick a file in your mind. Think about the things you believe and the things you do. When you find a questionable thought or activity, examine it or pray about it. If you see that it’s something you would do better without, toss it.

Re-attribute. Even after you toss it, it’ll come to mind again and again, because our brain misfires. It sends us false messages. Just recognize it as such and move on.

Re-focus. If you toss something, it leaves a gap. Gaps have to be refilled, or what you tossed will slip back in. So replace it with something enjoyable but healthy or productive.

Re-value. “With a consistent way to replace the old behavior with the new, you begin to see old patterns as simple distractions. You devalue them as being completely worthless. Eventually, the old thoughts begin to fade in intensity, the brain works better, and the automatic transmission in the brain begins to start working properly. You’re happier because you have control over your behavioral response to your thoughts and feelings. And by doing that, you change the faulty brain chemistry.”[4]

 

~ Photo by Natasha Connell

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[1] Begley, Sharon, “Mind vs. Brain,” Mindful, 24 July 2018.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Schwartz, Jeffrey, “Principles from Brainlock help overcome OCD,” Westwood Institute for Anxiety Disorders.

[4] May, Mathew E., “The Neuroscience of change—or how to reset your brain,” www.americanexperess.com, 07 July 2011.