Where the mind goes…the man follows.
The other evening I was watching an episode of Star Trek: Voyager in which the crew was visiting a planet where random thoughts (especially violent thoughts) had been banned. Someone ran into one of the crew members who then had a violent thought of pushing the person back in retaliation. That one random thought spread a string of violence throughout the community.
Here on Earth our thoughts don’t spread like that – however, our thoughts can lead to actions that result in behaviors.
Most addictions begin as thoughts in our minds. We think about the object of desire to the point of obsession. Our thought obsession then manifests itself as an action. When we repeatedly indulge in that action it becomes a seed for behavior. That behavior gives birth to the addiction.
Before I was born, my dad was a prolific smoker. He had begun smoking as a teenager. He continued to smoke until the day I was brought home from the hospital. He had a pack and half habit (behavior) per day that ruled his life. He never let his pack of cigarettes out of his sight. He bought his cigarettes by the carton. The moment his carton got down to one pack of cigarettes he panicked. No matter what time of day it was he had a compulsion to go buy another carton of cigarettes. Even if it was the middle of the night he would drive around looking for a 24 hour store that sold cartons of cigarettes. His thoughts of what would happen if he ran out of cigarettes drove him to take action.
While you might not be able to relate to the thought progression that rules the life of an addict, I’m sure you can easily think of something that has popped up in your mind that caused you to take some form of action.
Have you ever had something come up that has made you worry? (e.g. a scary diagnosis, strange symptoms, loss of a job, etc.) It seems like the harder you try not to worry the more you do worry! It is a known fact that a state of constant worry leads to stress which can cause all sorts of emotional and physical problems. If you don’t intentionally focus your mind on something else you will most likely continue in your action of worrying becoming more and more stressed.
Needless to say our thought lives are very important. The good news is that when you became a Christian you were blessed with a transformed mind. (Romans 12:12) That means that you no longer have to be conformed to your old way of thinking! A transformed mind means that instead of thoughts of worry you can have thoughts of peace that Jesus will take care of you. And thoughts of peace will lead to lower levels of stress in your life. The end result of your new peaceful thoughts brings you to emotional, physical, and spiritual healthy behavior.
Yes, that is often easier said than done. But what you can do is recognize when your thoughts are going down the path towards worry. At this point make an effort to think of something other than worry. God knows your heart and thoughts. He will honor your effort to stop following after the negative ones.