There’s this fascinating branch of science called neuroplasticity, which is defined as the brain’s ability to physically change in response to your activities. In other words, your brain forms new connections as you learn and develop and master new skills. One neurosurgeon even goes so far as to say, "How you use your mind changes your brain – for better or worse.”
So if you’ve ever wondered how much your thoughts impact the rest of your life, here’s proof. And since we are both spiritual and physical beings, how much more of an impact can our thoughts have on our souls?
Even if we understand how important it is to spread life and cultivate fruit through our words, how do we walk that out in our everyday lives? How do we transform our words in a lasting way?
1. Tune Out and Tune In
When you repeatedly speak and believe things that aren’t true, overwhelm quickly follows. And overwhelm often results in more lies because if we’re burnt out and running on empty, it’s a lot harder to do battle against those falsehoods.
Living through this vicious cycle tends to lead to lack of intention and purpose and the formation of destructive habits that rule your life. But before you can conquer those lies, you have to know what they are. So stop, tune out the distractions, and pay attention to what you say.
For a couple of days, listen intently to your words and thoughts. Write down phrases you frequently tell yourself and think about the voices of others that you let in. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open your ears and convict you so you can catch yourself and turn the words around.
2. Trap and Transform
There’s only one thing powerful enough to cut down the falsehoods that we speak into our lives - the Word of God. When our minds go down the rabbit hole of lies and fears, only God’s truth can reorient us and remind us of who He is and how we are meant to live. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Once we’ve named the lies, we need to trap them, then transform them.
Romans 12:2 commands us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and we do this by meditating on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure” (Philippians 4:8) and letting go of anything that isn’t.
My favorite way to walk this out is through a brain dump. I get a piece of paper and write down everything that’s causing anxiety and fear. When I look back on my list, I realize that the majority of it is filled with lies that the enemy is bringing against me. But naming the lies isn't enough. As any habit formation expert will tell you, you can’t just say goodbye to a bad habit - you need to allow something good and right and true to grow in its place.
Take time to write down all the lies that run through your head, then get into the scriptures and write the truth that will help you banish those lies.
3. Walk It Out
Whenever you set a goal or attempt to make a change, you have to start small. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get overwhelmed and give up entirely. Do you want to start exercising in the morning? Don’t plan on doing high intensity training for an hour if you’ve never done it before. Instead, download an app that will lead you through 10 minutes of exercises and build on that as you master the small steps.
In this case, choose one or two lies that seem to come up over and over or concentrate on the ones that do the most damage to your perspective and soul health. Focus on changing the narrative on a few before tackling them all.
Remember, success won't happen overnight and practice is vital. Print out my free list of affirmations and repeat them to yourself daily. Memorize scripture and put post-it notes of verses around your house or on your phone. Get into the word yourself and glean the truths that relate to the lies you battle against. And when you find yourself believing something untrue or falling into old habits, remember that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). Walk in the freedom Christ won for you through his redemptive work on the cross.
4. Don’t Do It Alone
There’s a reason why many addiction programs rely so heavily on accountability - we were not meant to shoulder our burdens alone. Share your journey with those who understand your heart and want you to thrive. Give them the freedom to correct you and nudge you back to the truth when they hear negativity or lies come out of your mouth. We need a community to help us name the lies and preach the gospel to us when we struggle to do it on our own.
5. Have Grace For Yourself
As you start this journey, expect slow growth and don’t let discouragement deter you from the good soil God is tending in your life. Changing our thinking is like trying to untangle a knotted chain. The harder you pull and yank, the worse it’ll get. The only way to untangle it is to gently and intentionally work through the mess.
God has created us to live on purpose, not stuck in default mode. The more we work at replacing the lies with truth, the more of an eternal impact we will have on those around us. One of the core principles of brain neuroplasticity is that the more focused you are on making a change and mastering something for a reason that has deep value to you, the physical changes in your brain will be greater. So let’s start making permanent and lasting changes in our hearts, minds, and souls as well so we can live well for God’s glory!