This is the most important principle. If you don’t control your thought life then nothing else I share with you is going to work for you. According to the latest medical research, controlling your thought life is the most effective way to treat disease and heal your brain and body. According to the Word of God, which is more accurate than medical science, the quality of your health is brought about by the quality of your thinking. To the extent that your soul (your mind, will and emotions) prospers, your health prospers.
3 John 2: “Beloved I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers.” KJV.
You cannot change yourself in your own strength and ability. You will only end up frustrated, defeated and disappointed. Controlling your thought life is only possible by God’s grace and the help of the Holy Spirit. God’s grace is His power and ability that He gives you to change and to do what He has called you
to do. His grace will help you overcome sinful thinking.
How To Control Your Thought Life
1. UNDERSTAND HOW A THOUGHT FORMS. I explained how a thought forms in the chapter “Essential Background Information of Disease from a Medical Perspective”. I recommend that you read through pages 14 to 20 again to refresh your memory. Understanding how thoughts form will greatly help you in controlling your thought life. When you have a clear knowledge of how the brain works and can visualize it, you can capture those thoughts so much more effectively.
2. USE YOUR FREE WILL TO ACCEPT THE GOOD THOUGHTS AND REJECT THE NEGATIVE TOXIC
THOUGHTS. Philippians 4 v 8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” KJV
Philippians 4 v 8 tells us to think on whatever is true, worthy, honorable, lovely or praiseworthy.
Therefore if the thought in your mind fits that description, purposefully meditate on it and you will build good memory in your brain that is healthy for you. If it is a negative toxic thought, reject it and it will literally become hot air. If you allow that toxic thought to get into your brain through meditating on it, it will grow a toxic thorn tree which will adversely affect your health and who you
are. You are then going to work that much harder at the process of renewing your mind to get rid of that toxic thorn tree and build a new memory.
Even though you can’t always control your circumstances, you can change
the way that you react to those circumstances. You can choose to reject
toxic thoughts before they make their way into your brain and eventually
dominate who you are. Check every thought that comes to your mind and
say to yourself, “Do I want this to be a part of me or not?” This is where
“bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians
10 v 5) becomes important.
3. LISTEN TO YOUR HEART. When you are making a conscious decision with your free will to accept or reject a thought, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit advising you from your heart.
4. DEAL WITH THAT TOXIC THORN TREE AND BUILD A NEW HEALTHY MEMORY OVER IT.
In the chapter “Essential Background Knowledge of Disease from a Medical Perspective” I explained that you can change the whole neuro-chemical structure of your brain through your thought life.
You can choose to deal with those toxic thorn trees and build new healthy memories over them. In science this process is called “re-transcribing those memories neuroplastically.” The Bible calls this “renewing the mind”.
Romans 12 v 2: “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].”
Ephesians 4 v 23: “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude]…”
God has designed our brain in such a way that we have an amazing ability to renew our minds. When you choose to confront your old toxic thinking patterns and recognize how they affect your life, those toxic thoughts are pushed from the non-conscious into your conscious mind. At this point they enter a labile state which means that they become unstable and can be altered.10 This means that while that
thought is in your conscious mind, you can do something with it: it can be redesigned and changed or kept the same and reinforced. In other words that memory (whether it is healthy or toxic) will either be changed or strengthened. No thought stays neutral.10 When it enters your conscious mind it becomes unstable and
is altered in either a positive or negative direction but it never stays the same.
Even if you don’t change the content of the thought, new proteins are made (protein synthesis) which strengthen that thought. The toxic thought can get worse or the good thought can get better. It is all under your control.
You can remove those toxic thorn trees and literally detoxify your brain through changing your thinking.
The word used for “changing your thinking” in the Bible is “repentance”. Biblically repentance is the condition for healing. As you change your thinking (repent), some branches on the nerves are removed (the thorns are removed from the thorn tree), new branches form and the strength of the connections change. Your brain can be reshaped and reformed. It has an incredible capacity to change, rewire and grow.
In the chapter “Essential Background Knowledge of Disease from a Medical Perspective” I also explained that your thoughts not only remodel the memories in your brain but your genes as well. You can change You can choose to deal with those toxic thorn trees and build new healthy memories over them.
The whole neuro-chemical structure of your brain and health of your body through thinking right down to the level of the DNA in your genes. That is truly amazing. It quite brilliantly shows the truth in the scripture, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 23 v 7) When you have a disease that is traced back to a toxic thinking pattern, you have a thorn tree in your brain that needs to be dealt with. You also need to build a new memory over it by renewing your mind with the Word of God in that area. This means purposefully setting aside time (which I call a “thinking time”) where you sit and meditate on the right thoughts until you have victory in that area.
For example, let’s say that you are suffering from depression because of a toxic
thinking pattern of a low self-esteem and guilt. These thoughts keep coming back
in your mind and that is dominating – it is a huge thorn tree in your brain. When
that thought comes into your mind, you need to consciously capture it. Then you
remember how a thought forms and you say to yourself, “OK, I recognize that this
is a toxic thought coming from a toxic thorn tree in my brain but I don’t want to
think that way any more.” Then you visualize that dark toxic thorn tree in your
brain. Then you say, “Alright, I am going to remove those thorns by using my free
will to reject those toxic thoughts from now on. I am also going to build a new
memory by spending about 15 minutes every day meditating on what the Word of God says about me. I am experiencing the symptoms of depression because of a toxic thought pattern of a low self-esteem and guilt. Now I am going to change my thinking so that I see myself the way that God sees me. I am going to build a healthy self-esteem based on who I am in Christ.” You then sit down every day in a quiet place,
close your eyes and purposefully and actively start thinking about, meditating on and speaking the Word of God to yourself. For example, “I have great value and worth because of who I am in Christ. God loves me and He sent His son to die for me (1 John 4 v 19; John 3 v 16). God accepts and approves of me (Jeremiah 1 v 5), therefore I accept and approve of myself. I am wearing Jesus’ robes of
righteousness (Isaiah 61 v 10) and His crown of glory and honor on my head (Psalm 8 v 5). I am a mighty man or woman of valor who possesses dignity and honor (Judges 6 v 12). There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8 v 1). As Jesus is, so am I in this world (1 John 4 v 17) and the immeasurable, unlimited and surpassing power of God is on the inside of me (Ephesians 1 v 19-20). I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8 v 37)…and so forth.”
I have gone on an in depth journey through the Bible to show you who you
are in Christ. There are more than 58 scriptures there about what the Word says concerning your value and worth and who you are as a child of God. You need to take some of those scriptures and actively meditate on them in a “thinking time” every day until you have renewed your mind and developed a new mindset
where you have a healthy self-esteem based on who you are in Christ.
As you are consciously thinking on the Word concerning who you are in Christ, chemicals are being released in response to those thoughts that are remodeling the memories in your brain. The thorns are being removed from the toxic thorn trees (pre-existing memories) so those toxic thorn trees will no longer release toxic chemicals that make you sick. You are also building a new memory (a healthy lush tree) over the old one. Renewing your mind is a physical process as much as it is a mental and spiritual process. Those new memories which are healthy lush trees that were made from meditating on the Word will release chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and enkephalins. These chemicals are very good for
you. They bring healing and health to your body. In the case of depression, when the serotonin is released,
the serotonin levels are increased and the symptoms of depression disappear (Depression is caused by a deficiency of serotonin which as I mentioned is caused by thoughts relating to a low self-esteem and guilt).
Let’s use another example: let’s say you have recurrent infections because of a thought life dominated
by fear and anxiety. You have a toxic thorn tree of fear in your brain, which via the hypothalamus has
Your brain can be reshaped and reformed.
It has an incredible capacity to change, rewire and grow.
caused a cascade of chemical and hormonal reactions leading to excessive quantities of the stress hormone cortisol in your blood (this is explained in more detail in the chapter on page 180). When cortisol is present in high quantities for a long time, it destroys the cells of the immune system. Your weakened
immune system left you with no defense against bacteria, parasites and fungus which were then able to infect your body. You now recognize how your toxic thinking habit of fear and anxiety has affected your body and you say, “These fear-filled thoughts have come from a toxic thorn tree in my brain but with the help of the Holy Spirit I am not going to think that way any more. I am going to remove those thorns by
using my free will to reject those toxic thoughts of fear and anxiety from now on. I am also going to build a new memory by spending about 15 minutes every day meditating on scriptures from the Word of God in this area.” (On page 523 I have written a chapter which has several scriptures that are relevant to dealing
with fear, anxiety and stress).
As you consciously meditate on the Word of God and you replace those thoughts of fear and anxiety with a new thinking habit of casting your cares (1 Peter 5 v 7), trusting in the Lord (Proverbs 3 v 5) and receiving the perfect love of the Father (1 John 4 v 18), you are remodeling the memories in your brain. The thorns are being removed from the toxic thorn trees of fear and you are building a new memory (a healthy lush tree) over the old one. The lush trees will secrete chemicals that cause the hypothalamus to respond by producing the correct formula of hormones and the excessive production of cortisol by the adrenal glands will stop. The cortisol levels normalize and the cells of the immune system are able to re-multiply
and come back to full strength. The immune system is now able to kill the bacteria, parasites and fungus so the infection resolves and your body heals.
When you take every thought captive during the day and spend some thinking time meditating on the Word of God in the area where you have problems, the toxic thorn tree (picture on the left) will be broken down and you will build a new positive memory (picture on the right) over it that will secrete chemicals that make you healthy It starts with your thought life! Just as your thought life caused the disease in the first place, you can use your thought life to bring about your healing. One of the biggest fallacies in the Church today is
that we are asking God to do it all. Healing is not a one way street where you
sit back and expect God to do everything. Yes, God does have a part to play
and you cannot do it without Him. Only His supernatural healing power can
restore those areas of your body that were irreversibly damaged by the disease.
However you also have a part to play and that is to renew your mind. God has
given you a phenomenal brain and a very powerful mind and you need to purposefully
use it to help your body heal. Changing your thinking is not a passive
process. You have to be actively involved in pulling down those negative mindsets and toxic strongholds in your brain. Just as you should have quiet times every day where you fellowship with God through prayer Just as your thought life caused the disease, you can use your thought life to bring about your healing.
and worship, you also need to set aside a “thinking time” to sit and meditate on the Word, especially when you have a mental stronghold to overcome (i.e. a disease as a result of a toxic thinking pattern).
You cannot randomly do this once in a while, you need to literally make this an event or an exercise. You actually need to sit down somewhere and actively meditate on positive thoughts (ideally from the Word of God) and consciously build a new memory over the old one. Furthermore you must understand that you can’t do this exercise of thinking right thoughts once and expect everything to be fine. According
to research conducted by Dr. Caroline Leaf it takes 4 days of thinking correctly to remove those thorns from a toxic memory and 21 days to build a new memory over it. Repetition at frequently spaced intervals is necessary to consolidate and stabilize those new healthy memories so that they become permanently a part of you. Research shows that approximately seven deep thinking exercises a day over a period of
21 days will help create long lasting change.10 Change will happen in your brain as soon as you start the process. Within 4 days you will feel the effects of changed thinking; within 21 days you will have built a whole new memory and thought pattern in your brain. The first 4 days will be the most difficult. The 5th
to 21st days will become easier as you progress. By the 21st day you will feel a significant change. Even though you will feel a significant change after 21 days, you will still need to continue practicing your new thought pattern.
Joshua 1 v 8: “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will deal wisely and have good success.”
Now when I talk about 4 days and 21 days, I’m speaking from a medical point of view in terms of the science of how the brain works, but with God in the equation it is not that predictable. For example, to my surprise some people have been instantly healed as soon as they repented for the sin or toxic mindset behind
their disease. That is a miracle because even through changing your thinking, on a physical level the human body doesn’t recover that fast. I saw two ladies get completely healed immediately after dealing with their broken heart and releasing and forgiving the person who had hurt them. God intervened and the person was healed instantly. Others, including myself have taken longer than 21 days – we gradually
recovered as we had to persevere through the process of renewing our minds.
God heals every person in a unique and individual way according to the work He wants to do in that person’s heart.
In that 15 minutes of thinking time, journalize your thoughts if you think that will help you. Journaling works incredibly well. The research done by Dr.
Caroline Leaf has found that journaling or writing your thoughts down or even drawing pictures of your thoughts is an excellent way of renewing your
mind and building new memories. The point is that you need to get very, very interactive and personally involved with the process. You can’t be passive. You
need to take responsibility and control of your health and thought life.
As well as spending 10 or 15 minutes every day purposefully thinking on the Word concerning the area you are having big issues with, you also need to be careful to bring every thought captive during the rest of the day. It’s no good meditating on the Word for 15 minutes in the morning, and then spending the rest
of the day with fear, anxiety and stress going wild in your thought life. Furthermore, don’t waste your free thinking time during the rest of the day: when you are driving in the traffic, taking a bath, waiting in a queue in a shop and so on…don’t let your mind be blank or think whatever rubbish thought pops into your
head… take advantage of the opportunity to renew your mind in the area that you are having problems with! Purposefully think on the Word!
You have to constantly choose to use this process of rejecting the wrong thoughts and deciding to think the right thoughts. Constantly check your thought life. Never let any thought go roaming through God heals every person in a unique and individual way according to the work He wants to do in that person’s heart.
your brain unchecked. There are many thoughts constantly coming to you from the external world and much of the time it is the devil putting nonsense in your head. There are also many thoughts coming up internally that you need to capture which are coming from your own toxic memories in your brain. So if the Holy Spirit convicts you and you find yourself thinking “For goodness sake why am I thinking like
that?” capture that thought immediately. Say, “Great, thank you Lord!” Then you repent and get rid of that thought before it becomes a toxic thorn tree in your brain. In other words what I am emphasizing to you is be aware of what is going on inside your mind on a constant basis.
If a thought comes from the inside it could really be the Holy Spirit revealing thought patterns that you need to get rid of to bring down those strongholds. If the thought is coming from the outside, for example from the media – do you want that in your head? Get rid of it because once it’s in your head you have got
to work so much harder to get it out of your brain. It is much easier to reject bad thoughts immediately than to go through the whole process of having to remove those thorns on that toxic stronghold through 15 minutes of thinking time every day. So it’s a constant process of being aware of what thoughts are going through your mind as well as taking big issues in your life and sitting down and actually consciously
working through those toxic strongholds. Changing your thinking and renewing your mind is a constant interactive process. The best way is to do it with someone else. If you’ve got a lot of issues (and we all have), one of the best ways of dealing with this is to partner with someone such as your spouse or friend.
Teach your whole family. Work through this process with people that you trust and that can help you to actually talk yourself and walk yourself through this process. It takes a lot of discipline to be aware of your thought life. As you start this process, you’ll be amazed at how lazy you’ve actually been when it comes
to your thought life. We’re incredibly lazy, we just let whatever toxic thought pops up roam through our head and then we wonder why we feel sick. Meanwhile if we control it we are so much healthier and we feel so much better.
Getting rid of toxic thoughts not only causes you to become physically healthy, but you become more intelligent! That is a large part of the research that Dr. Caroline Leaf did which proved that your intelligence increases with a positive thought life. Now I don’t know about you but increasing your intelligence is a very appealing thing because the more intelligent you become, the more you use your mind, the more
wisdom you have, the healthier you become, the more enjoyable life becomes and the easier it is to help others.
So we’ve come to the end of the first principle that you need to apply to pull down those toxic thorn trees and that is to control your thought life. You need to start capturing your thoughts and changing your brain through the renewing of your mind with the Word of God. You can do it with the help of the Holy Spirit and by God’s grace. You can change those thoughts. Your mind is fully under your control.
By Dr. Michelle Strydom MD.
The Next Article. Use Your Words to Shape Your World.
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