Your life is a direct result of your thinking patterns.
You need to pay attention to what you think. It is your most defining characteristic.
Do you ever think about what you think about? This is important. If you were to gather your thoughts and place them into patterns or categories, then evaluate what you think, and when you think it- then you then can define who you really are.
Those personal thoughts, those unguarded thoughts, and those imaginations and fantasies say more about you than any other characteristic. What you think may not be factual or true, but it is your mind’s reality. And the longer you think it and the more you meditate on it, the more real your inner thought life becomes.
You are what you think.
Proverbs describes a stingy man who shows generosity and speaks warmly, but really in his heart he is a miser. “As he thinks, so is he.” His behavior is just a show. This leads us to conclude that it is quite possible to behave in a way that at times is inconsistent with what you think. But not for long…..
Thoughts in your mind form the basis of what goes into your heart. Meditate on something for a while and it soon becomes a part of your beliefs. Let your imagination work on something, anything, someone, anyone! If you just let your mind do what it wants to, over time the thoughts become beliefs.
Now we have a problem, because beliefs shape behavior. You cannot consistently act in a way that is inconsistent with what you believe.
I’m sure you’ve seen it or experienced it, where someone said something untrue about you or accused you of something and you were literally in shock. “How could you even think such a thing about me?” you asked in horror. Actually, the other person found it quite easy. Just a casual encounter that was a bit negative, a word taken wrongly, an innuendo not intended but taken offense at…then they add some imagination and the thoughts grew. And the longer they grew, the more convinced the person was that it was true. Then there it is, this outrageous accusation, which may have started out of nothing. It was just a thought!
The New Testament defines the mind as the battleground. Very clearly we are told that to give up the battle for control of the mind is to give up the battle of life. It goes so far as to say, “casting down imaginations”. Imaginations are thoughts. In this context it means “consideration and reflection preceding and determining conduct.” Thoughts always precede conduct. You will have to stand up to your own imaginations at times. Your thoughts are your thoughts and they are there because you choose to have them there. You make daily choices to let thoughts in and allow your imagination to work with those thoughts.
You are the one who must be the most critical of your own thoughts. It’s not your personality, your looks, your track record or your history that determine the outcome of your life. Your thoughts determine where life is going.
Who else knows your thoughts better than you? This wonderful gift of God, the imagination, the ability to create with the mind- when turned negatively on itself or others, will destroy joy, relationships, happiness, contentment and peace of mind.
But where do these thoughts come from? There are two obvious sources: old material repackaged, and new material.
The old material is memory. Memories by the thousands are filed in our mental data base. A word, a conversation, a voice tone, a smell, a sound or an image, quickly connects with previously filed memories or is triggered by a current event. We store good ones and bad ones, happy and sad ones, relaxing and troubling ones- it’s all there. Sometimes those memories surface out of nowhere.
Sometimes you keep bad memories alive by meditating on them by choice. You choose to think negatively or badly or critically or maliciously. We all remember stuff. Everyone has had some bad life experiences. No one escapes childhood and life without a good deal of suffering.
But that is not the issue of memory. It is what we have chosen to do with those experiences. Some suggest that if you truly forgive, you’ll forget. That’s not realistic. Forgiving and forgetting are not interchangeable terms. Forgiving is a choice which can facilitate healing and take the pain out of memories. Forgetting is losing the file, erasing the file…and that is not realistic. How do we forget a piece of our life, a piece of our mind?
New material is the new thoughts that come. Hearing, reading, watching, feeling, touching and smelling all feed our thoughts. Everything new is filed in the correct data base to link with anything already there or form a new file. You definitely have control over what happens with this input. You have a choice as to how long you think about it, the reactions and responses you have to it.
Thinking can be a habit. “Sow a thought, reap a habit.” Think it often enough and it becomes a habit. Habits shape character. How would you define your character? Just look at your habits and you can define your character. Character is not what you want to be, it is what you are right now. Then sow that character and that is your destiny.
Destiny can be changed by changing what you think.
Many years ago I became aware of my own negative thinking patterns. I don’t know where they came from. Did I learn them in my family? Were they my choices? Was it my environment? Who knows! For whatever reason, they were there. I understood that to change my destiny I’d have to change my thoughts. But how?
I picked up some 3 X 5 cards and wrote some statements of faith on one side and a scripture verse on the other. I read them reviewed them and thought about them every day. I determined to reprogram my thinking, my habits and think differently. It took time but it did work. Old habits die hard, but they will die.
Wherever you are in life and wherever you are , only you can change that direction. It will begin with what you think. This means if you have embarrassing habits, evil, sinful habits- only you can address that. You need to pay attention to what you think. It is your most defining characteristic.