Monday, January 14, 2008

Reprogramming Your Mental Computer

"When things don't work out as you planned, rather than complaining, look for something good in your circumstances. Fill your mind with good thoughts. Your mind is similar to a computer. What you program into it dictates how it will function.....too often we allow negative thoughts, words, and other devious viruses to access our minds...corrupting our information and values. We were created in the image of God. He programmed us to live abundant lives, to be happy, healthy, and whole," Joel says in chapter 13. Man, it can be hard to look for the good in everything! Jampolsky says, "I can look upon everything I experience today as a positive lesson, without exception." This is so powerful because often life does not turn out the way I think it should. Now, though, when something happens that I term as a "bad" thing, I look for some good to come out of it. My daughter Tori's accident and her ensuing health issues devastated me, but she survived!!! Not only that, but she defied her "supposed" physical conditions by having a baby, even though the doctors said she wouldn't be able to have any more children. I probably wrote about this before, but it was such a huge turning point in my life that it really influenced how I think. I know that I must keep positive thoughts so that I can have peace of mind.


Patty said...

Because our emotions respond to what we are thinking about, it's so important to dwell on the good things in life. Deuteronomy 30:19 says, "I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses, positive and negative; therefore God says choose life."

I don't know who wrote this poem, but I want to share it with you.

Be Thankful

"Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary
Because it means you've made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment come to those who are thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings."

I'm reprogramming my mental computer with gratitude. Henry Ward Beecher (father of Harriet Beecher Stowe who wrote UNCLE TOM'S CABIN) said, "Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul."

Patty said...

Joel says, "Choose to dwell on what you have, not on what you don't have." Max Lucado says, "The breath you just took? God gave that. The blood that pulsed through your heart? Credit God. The light by which you read and the brain with which you process? He gave both." Isn't it amazing and surprising how many gifts we have from God? No wonder our hearts are so full of gratitude!

Patty said...

I got that Max Lucado quote from Holly's calendar that she gave me last Christmas. Today she and I had an impromptu bible study, and she brought over her study guide. Here are a couple of questions for chapter 13:

1) Describe and discuss difficult situations in which you wanted to camp around the bad news, but you chose to see the bright side and make the best of it. What might have happened if you had gone the other way?

2) Reread the story about the lonely man who thought he had emotional problems, but in reality was dealing with thinking problems. Based on what you've rad so far, explain why you do or do not have thinking problems.

Patty said...

1) Describe and discuss difficult situations in which you wanted to camp around the bad news, but you chose to see the bright side and make the best of it. What might have happened if you had gone the other way?

I guess I see situations that could be termed difficult almost on a daily basis....little today I broke the chain on my Black Hills gold necklace that my granddaughter Jessica gave me for Christmas. I felt bad about it, but I decided to reprogram my mental computer away from negative thoughts to more positive thoughts. I started thinking about the fact that I know a jeweler who cleans my wedding rings twice a year, and I could replace the chain through him or go someplace else to replace the chain. I didn't want to let something like a broken chain get me down, even though I love and treasure my necklace so much. If I kept mulling my broken chain over in my mind and adding to the problem, I would have settled in a bad mood. I didn't want to do that.

Another situation I had was right after my youngest granddaughter Kaya was born. I broke my arm jumping on a trampoline. I was so overjoyed by the birth of my granddaughter that I didn't let a broken arm steal my joy.

These are a couple examples of not wanting to camp around "bad" news. It's just not worth it to dwell on the negative when life is so full of wonderful blessings.

Patty said...

2) Reread the story about the lonely man who thought he had emotional problems, but in reality was dealing with thinking problems. Based on what you've read so far, explain why you do or do not have thinking problems.

The story was about a man who had endured a painful breakup of a relationship and then asked Joel to help him solve his emotional problems. Joel replied that he believed the man was having thinking problems rather than emotional problems.

I agree with Joel that this man was having thinking problems because the man was living in the past. When something this devastating happens, as hard as it is, we must move forward. We have to live in the present moment and not mull over the past. We have to change the polarity of our thought processes from negative to positive by affirmations and seeing good things in our mind's eye. "As a man thinketh, so shall he be," is an age old philosophy that we've all probably heard. It's easier said than done, however. It is difficult to get past a devastating event like a breakup, but God's grace will see us through if allow it to do so. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," says Paul in Philippians 4:13. Through this promise we can find the strength and courage to get beyond the pain. Joel reminds us in this chapter that "our emotions simply respond to what we're thinking".

Patty said...

Frank and I are in the weight losing process this year and are reprogramming our brains to get past the negative programs we picked up as children when our minds were open and impressionable. We want to get past the "clean up your plate so you can have dessert" mentality and "there are starving children in Africa so you'd better be thankful and clean up your plate." Those words have integrated themselves into our thought processes and programmed our brain at the subconscious level. Now we are trying to overwrite this type of thinking by installing positive new thinking into our subconscious like "nothing tastes as good as being thin feels" and we "don't want to give up what we want the most for what we want at the moment" and "we don't need to clean up our plate because we don't need dessert anyway. If we don't clean our plates, it won't make a child in Africa starve." We use weightwatcher tools like positive self-talk and mental rehearsal to begin the positive reprogramming of our brain. We have made a vision board with our goals on it. We have started working on our internal dialogue and use mental rehearsal on a daily basis (seeing ourselves in our "mind's eye" not as we currently are, but as we ideally would like to be). That's also called "switching". We mentally rehearse what we are going to eat before we eat out in a restaurant or go to a company dinner and how we are going to focus on the people and the conversation instead of the food. Psychologists estimate that it takes 21 to 30 days to establish a new pattern in our brains. Frank and I are on day 19 since we started on New Years day, and we are experiencing God's favor in this weight loss journey. Frank has lost five pounds already, and I've lost four. It's not easy to control our thinking and keep it constructive. In fact, it is one of the most challenging things we've faced for a while, but by staying focused on our goals and using positive self-talk we are accomplishing what we want. We take the pressure off ourselves by knowing that we slip up once in awhile, but when negative thoughts and self criticisms come up, we just observe them, without obsessing about them or adding to them, and then change the direction of our thought processes by one of our positive affirmations such as Martin Luther King Jr's quote, "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase;just take the first step." How appropriate since Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Anyway, this works and we are experiencing God's favor as we reprogram our mental computers. Praise God!

Holly said...

Chapter 13 discusses regromming our thoughts. It was eye opening to hear about the story of the man who said he was depressed a lot due to the loss of the relationship. The man asked Joel is he had an emotional problem and Joel said that he thought he had a thinking problem rather than an emotional problem. Joel went on to explain that emotions of being down and depressed followed what the man was thinking(the man was always thinking how he was lonely and hurt. He also said he thought about how many mistakes he made and how he messed up his life. He thought theses thoughts upon awakening and then before going to sleep). It's so interesting that I have been reading a couple of chapters of another book that go right along with this chapter in Joel's book. It will take a lot of space. I still want to share with you because there is so much information and "tools" that can help overcome the negative thinking.
This information comes from a book called The Secret Things of God by Henry Cloud. He wrote it after reading the book The Secret.
The following information comes from the chapter "Your Thoughts Affect The Way You Feel"(I am writing a lot of this word for word from this book)
There are 3 characteristically negative ways some people interpret or explain the things that happen in their lives.
1) The 1st is personal explanations.
Something difficult happens and it's because there is something personal wrong with you. For example, a saleswoman who doesn't make a sell tells herself she's an idiot and a loser. The experience is personalized to mean something bad about herself rather than simply observing that the customer didn't need what she was selling(this example from Dr. Cloud's book)
2) The 2nd one is pervasive explanations. This is interpreting one difficulty as being pervasive across all of life.
The saleslady doesn't make a sell and thinks "not only can I not sell, the rest of my life is in the toilet too. Nothing try works-I screw everything up" This sets people up for future failure and is a ticket to depression and misery.
3) 3rd interpretation is when you see one incident as proving a permenent quality about your life.
It is thinking that "one bad time" is going to be for "all time". This view can make everything seem hopeless and make you begin to feel helpless"
(This is reasearch based and Dr. Cloud used the book Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman for the above info) The information above and the following information is straight from Dr. Clouds book and I think it offers wonderful tools for changing one's thinking.
He says "the Good News- There IS A Choice. You can be in control of your thoughts and take your thoughts captive OR You can let your throughts tie you up in knots and lead you down all kind of screwy paths"
He goes on to say that Positive Thinking is not some New Age Fantasy. It has been in the Bible a long time. The nice thing is that the power doesn't have to come from you. Here are some "rebutells" and they point to God as the power source and the "God tools" can be used to remind yourself of God's truth
1)"I am not a loser. I am a child of God, and he loves me and is going to help me in every way.-combats the personal mis-explanations
Romans 8:38-39: I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No Power in the sky above or below, indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
2. This event is not going to be true for every area of my life, for God is in ultimate control and will bring good out of everything that happens(combats the pervasive mis-explanations)
Romans 8:28
We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them
3. My future is not bleak and life will not always be this way(combats the permanent mis-explanations)
Hebrews 13:5
God has said never will I leave you ; never will I forsake you.
Proverbs 23:18
there is surely a future hope for you and your hope will not be cut off.
In this same chapter Dr. Cloud also talks about research pschiatrist Aaron Beck and says Beck has shown some emotional problems are linked to negative thinking usually in 3 areas: how we think about the world, ourselves and our future. The way you view these areas have a huge effect on your happiness.
Dr. Cloud gives the following list as ways to understand and change your thinking:
-Monitor and observe it -take it captive
-Analyze it: keep what's true, reject what is false
-Replace what is false with God's truth
-Live out the truth in faith, inspite of what you feel
- Get to the root of these voices inside- wher they came from and who they belong to
-Cut yourself loose from the influence and power of the past
-Open up to new people who love and support you
-Internalize these new messages of encouragement and validation that come from positive people in your life
-Read God's word and other truth-giving and inspiring material
-Listen to inspiring teachers and communicators
-Memorize God's word so it will be in your head at all times
-Gain new experiences that disprove the old messages in your head
Once again, all of this information comes from Dr. Cloud's book and I wanted to share because I found it so eye opening and it goes right along with the chapter we are reading in Joels book. Both authors discuss how our emotions are linked to whether we are thinking positively or negatively. I hope this is helpful to you also.

Patty said...

Thank you so much, Holly. This is such helpful material. I can especially relate to the pervasive explanations. I've been there. When one thing didn't turn out the way I expected, I felt like nothing would turn out the way I planned. Wow! I now know not to obsess over something like that, but to move on instead. Not that I always do that! Sometimes it takes a while before I remember. Thanks for sharing that book too. I think I would like to read Dr. Cloud's book and the LEARNED OPTIMISM book. God has provided us with so much helpful materials in this life. Thank you for taking the time to share this, Holly.

We are so fortunate in this life. I haven't read "Learned Optimism", but I would like to read it because I want to become more optimistic all the time. Joel says, "Start dwelling on the solution. Dwell on the fact that God still has a great plan in store for your life. When one door closes, God will always open a bigger and better door. But you have to do your part and stay in an attitude of faith, stay filled with hope." Yes!! Thank You, Lord. That is what I intend to do.

Frank said...


Welcome aboard! We are glad to have you. I like your post and you are so right (I really appreciate the scriptures!). Our lives are so many times like dominoes - when one bad thing happens then we let the domino effect take over and it continues going bad because that is what we expect. Athletes likes Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods learned "The Secret" a long time ago and don't let one bad shot or one down day get them down and continue to affect their performance and hence their outcomes. Tiger is notorious for having just a terrible day on the course and then the next day come "roaring" back to win or to at least try to win. I think we all need to try to roar back from a down experience and not let it continue to affect us. Again, Holly welcome aboard!

Jeanie said...

In everything we say and do there is a lesson to be learned. We are blessed to be granted a life full of opportunities to grow and change. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is directed not at us, but outward, toward someone else. Without even being aware of it, maybe something we say or do today will be someone else's Aha! moment. Our responsibility is to recognize our own gifts when they are given and then stop for a moment and thank God for the richness of the life he has given us.
Change is inevitable. Really, without change, what opportunities would we have to grow as human beings,, to enrich our lives and become well rounded and all embracing? As Christians, we are taught to be kind, loving and non-judgmental. How do we become those persons without being challenged to grow through change? We have to trust God enough to embrace the changes that come our way.

"Excellence can be attained if you care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, and expect more than others think is possible." Author unknown

Patty said...

I like that quote, Jeanie. It goes so well with the theme of Joel's book. Caring enough to risk disappointment and heartbreak is not easy. I know I love my husband and kids so much that if they get hurt, it hurts me, but I wouldn't miss out on that feeling of deeply loving and caring for someone to save myself from emotional pain. Also, because I love and care for someone that much, I risk acute disenchantment if I am rejected in any way. Still it is worth all that to have the opportunity to love and be loved, which is, by the way a universal longing for almost everyone. Taking risks and dreaming is a big part of experiencing my best life now. Thanks, Jeanie, for your insightful comment. I also agree with you about change. I almost always resist change, but Frank has convinced me of the necessity of change for growth. Thanks for the reminder. I know your family has gone through a lot of changes lately with the death of Steve. God bless you all and please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.