Most people understand that their thought life is important. The patterns and habits of your thinking affect your emotions, attitudes, and choices. Ultimately, your thought life will shape your relationships, your direction, your outcomes and your legacy.
There are two fundamental mistakes in how we think about our thinking that we must address if our thought patterns are going to help us become the people God designed us to be and if we are going to accomplish the things we are designed to do.
We must shift our strategy from being reactive to being proactive.
Very simply, this means that we don’t focus on what we are NOT going to think about. That’s reactive and it doesn’t work. Your brain doesn’t work in terms of NOT thinking about something. Let’s try it together. Right now, DON’T think about purple elephants. See what I mean? You can not NOT think about something. That approach guarantees that you will think about it.
Instead, we need to proactively choose what we will think about. This is a much better approach simply because it’s the only way that actually works. You can choose what you are going to think about. You cannot choose what you’re not going to think about.
Paul’s strategy for this is very clear.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ESV)
How do you need to proactively adjust your thought life?
We must shift our posture from being passive to being active.
This is actually the necessary assumption for the above strategy. You can only proactively choose your focus if you first assume that you have the ability to actively manage your thought life. Many do not actually hold this assumption. Lots of people have a very passive posture when it comes to their thoughts. They approach their thoughts like consumers instead of directors. Rather than directing the movie, they are seated with their popcorn in the audience, passively taking in whatever happens.
However common this posture might be, it’s not necessary. You don’t have to be a passive receiver when it comes to your thought life. You don’t have to settle for the long established patterns. You don’t have to surrender to the mental momentum you’ve always known. You don’t have to be a victim. We have the ability to actively choose, to embrace the responsibility of active engagement.
To summarize these two points:
- We can proactively manage our thoughts.
- We can actively manage our thoughts.
What would it look like for you to actively become proactive in your own head?