4 Actions you can take to change your mind, when you are afraid, in a funk or in a foggy cloud.
A few nights ago my 10 year old daughter got scared right before bed. Really scared. Do you remember having those nights as a kid? The nights when your room was so big that you would rather go sleep in the closet? Or when you would hide under your covers and try to be so quiet that no one would know you were there? I would get so hot that I could hardly breath, but at least whatever beast was lurking out in my room wouldn’t know where I was. That was my daughter a few nights ago. She got something stuck in her head and it debilitated her. She could not get this fear to leave. My wife, Mandy, has a wonderful way of opening a doorway into really good conversation with our kids. When they get scared or feel alone they just want her. To be around, to talk to them, and on this night my wife was at her best. Addy calmed down a bit and I came in to say goodnight. She looked at me and tears welled up again in her eyes. Her brain went right back to thinking about the room, the dark and the fear. She kept returning to it, which made her think about it more, which made her even more afraid. She needed to change her mind.
We hear that phrase all the time. I changed my mind. It feels very off-the-cuff. Like, “No big deal, I just changed my mind.” Almost like it is something that happened to us, I was thinking one thing and now I am thinking another. But that is not how our minds work at all.
Our mind does what we tell it to. We change it by telling it to do something different.
My daughter was in a cycle of thinking about how scared she was and she just kept turning the same things over and over in her mind. Her mind was like, “oh ok, you want me to think about how sacred you are, got it, let’s do it.” Our mind just give us what we ask it to. It is a machine we control.
How do we control it? Over the last 5–10 years I have had to do a lot of changing my mind. I have had some bad habits and some bad thought patterns that could have ruined my life if I wouldn’t have changed them.
There are 4 principles with accompanying actions that I have learned that help change my mind.
It is more about the action than the principle.
But remembering the principle, triggers the action which then changes behavior.
Principle 1: Remember who God is.
Action 1: I learned this action from an email series from Louie Giglio. Take a 4 second deep breath in and say, “I cannot…” and on the 4 second release say, “but I believe you can.” I believe there is a God who is ultimately in control and has a plan. I, on my own, can’t do everything. So, I just admit it at the start. I give up control. Do this slowly 10 times. “I cannot…but I believe Jesus can.” I know it sounds silly and simple. If this is too simple and silly for you, then go back to being afraid and overwhelmed, let me know how it works out for you. Do it 10 times.
Principle 2: Remember who YOU are.
Action 2: As Addy’s tears welled up again, I told her to get out her journal. I told her to write out these words 10 times: I, Addy am a brilliant and beautiful 10 year old and I am not afraid of anything. I, Addy am a brilliant and beautiful 10 year old and I am not afraid of anything. I, Addy am a brilliant and beautiful 10 year old and I am not afraid of anything. 10 times. This one is from Julia Cameron’s book called the Artists Way. Write this phrase, “I______________am a brilliant and prolific ______________ and I am not afraid of anything.” You have to write it by hand and take your time. As Addy did this, she got annoyed she had to write it so many times, but she started to believe it by the end. Her mind began to change.
Principle 3: Be GRATEFUL.
Action 3: I told Addy to write out 2 different things she was grateful for. For example, I am grateful for this computer to write out my thoughts each morning. Another, I am grateful for a wife that always pushes me. Just write out 2 simple things you are grateful for. Real things. Simple things. Don’t overthink it. As Addy and I went through this I could see her body change. A weight was being lifted.
Principle 4: Think of OTHERS.
Action 4: I then told her to write out this phrase for 2 different people: I pray for joy and peace to _______________. Write it out for 2 different people. As she thought about others the focus started to become about them and not her.
When we were done, she took a deep breath and she was different. She had changed her mind. It worked!
If you do these 4 things it will take 5–10 minutes. Do them all within the same sitting. Try it the next time you are overwhelmed. Don’t rush through it, take your time. Your mind will do what you tell it to and it will change. It will stop thinking about fear and it will start thinking about who our God is, who we are, what we have to be grateful for and others. If you do this once in a while, when you are feeling overwhelmed it will be like taking Advil when you have a headache. Temporary relief of symptoms.
If you do this every day in the morning for a year, you will change the wiring in your mind and your life will change. If you do this for a lifetime, the world will change.