Under stress, have you ever had an old script play in your mind such as:
- “I’m not good enough.”
- “I’m ugly.”
- “I’m fat.”
- “They don’t like you.”
- “They don’t want you.”
The enemy wants to keep us in bondage to old mental scripts. But the Lord gives us the process to break free!
The one emotion these old scripts have in common is fear.
I believe the enemy wants to control the emotional centers in our brain, especially the one that triggers our fear.
He wants us always reacting to situations without thinking. He wants to play us like a violin!
After you read this article, you will see how he can hack into our brain chemistry and manipulate us through our old scripts if we are not careful.
Understanding your Brain’s Emotional Center
Our brain’s emotional center is called the limbic system, and within that system is the Amygdala, which is the brain’s alarm center.
The Amygdala reacts first and thinks later. Here is an example:
Let’s say that you are walking in the woods and suddenly out of the corner of your eye, you see this long, slim black thing that appears to be slithering on the ground.
Fear-based chemicals are released from your Amygdala with the idea that the thing could be a snake.
Your body reacts and you jump away from it immediately. You didn’t stop to think “I wonder what that is?” before moving out of the way.
After you’ve moved to safety, your decision brain (the Prefrontal Cortex) takes over. It looks over at the thing to question what it is.
Turns out the thing wasn’t a snake at all; it was an old car timing belt that someone threw away!
Your Amygdala and limbic system are vigilant in trying to protect you.
God created them to help you respond appropriately to your environment.
But our modern environment has created a big problem.
How the World “Feeds” Fear
Many of us “live” in an unnaturally negative environment, which can be created from the thoughts we dwell upon, the people with whom we spend the most time, and the media content we consume.
As a result, the emotional and fear-based centers in our brains are getting constant exercise.
Like lifting weights makes a muscle bigger and stronger, so are we increasing the strength of our emotional and fear-based centers through constant stimulation.
We become addicted to the Dopamine “high” of these emotion-driven activities.
Here are some common examples of what people commonly feed upon:
- Watching violent programs on television
- Listening to hard-driving, heart-pounding music
- Participating in gaming that simulates killing and committing other violent, criminal acts
- Developing “desire to acquire” disease through coveting the material goods advertised in commercials
- Putting pressure on ourselves to live up to the beauty standards we see on TV and other media
- Exposing our eyes to sexually-explicit images and inflaming our sexual desires through reading erotic material or witnessing sexual acts that others perform
It’s no surprise that this content is marketed as for “amusement”. The root word for “amuse” means “without thinking”!
- The brain circuits that we use strengthen.
- The brain circuits that we neglect weaken.
God did not design us to go through life merely reacting to our emotions and fears; He designed us as intelligent, thoughtful beings in His glorious image.
Our destiny is to have the mind of Christ!
Repeatedly in the Bible, the Lord instructs His children to practice wisdom, diligence, and discernment in how we live.
The Pre-frontal Cortex is the part of our brains responsible for wisdom, reason, logic, judgment, diligence, and discernment.
Remember that our limbic system and Amydala react first and think later? What happens if we have a brain in which these systems have been overdeveloped?
That’s right…the Prefrontal Cortex takes a back seat. Because it is underused, our very brain structure changes for the worse in this area.
Hebrews 5:12-14 gives us a warning about not paying attention to how we progress:
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
Did you get the phrase “who by reason of use“?
So the phrase “use it or lose it” complements this Spiritual principle!
To change, we need to re-write the old fear-based, emotional scripts in our brains with new ones based upon God’s word.
We can rewrite the scripts through occupying our minds (put them to work) with God’s word.
Jesus’ Process for Change
Jesus gave us the process for change in Luke 8:4-15, in the Parable of the Sower. Jesus is talking God’s word as good seed.
But the type of ground on which God’s word falls determines whether it produces change in a person’s life or not.
Here is Jesus’ description of good ground:
But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”
Let’s break the process of breaking free down so that you can see how this looks on a daily basis:
1. Decide to walk with the Lord in all your ways daily.
Let’s agree in prayer that Colossians 1:9-11 will become a reality in God’s people all around the world:
“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
2. Practice keeping your brain in perfect peace and emotional stability throughout each day.
Isaiah 26:3 says,
You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty! Fear is torment; fear keeps you in bondage.
Your daily job is to start retraining your brain to be at peace. You can do this through reminding yourself of the Lord’s love and presence with you.
Take a break of at least 15 minutes each day to mediate on the Lord’s goodness in your life.
It is also important to create a more peaceful environment around yourself. Evaluate the media content that you are “eating” regularly.
Are you watching programs that stimulate the fear and emotional centers in your brain constantly?
If so, you’ve likely developed an anxious, stressed brain.
Replace that old programming with new programming that is helpful, calming, educational, and edifying.
Some might say, “Well, that’s boring!”
However remember, living in a world that overworks your emotions and fears constantly is unnatural.
Living in a world that is in harmony with our Father’s will is what is natural for a Believer in Christ so that we can make wise choices that glorify Him.
3. Take the old thoughts captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.
Monitor your thoughts and beware of any that contradicts God’s word.
Put your mind to work on studying and meditating upon God’s word. When you understand what it says, you can exercise your Spiritual discernment in choosing good over evil.
Note: If you are new to Bible study, the book of John is a good place to start. Use a version that you can understand easily. I use the New King James version.
I view this process as like farming: You pull up the weeds and plant good seeds in their place.
If you feel any anxiety or encounter problems in your day, don’t just react; be still and ask the Lord for help immediately. Wait patiently for His answer and follow what He says.
When you do this, you are strengthening your Prefrontal Cortex and bringing back balance to the emotional/fear centers in your brain.
4. Remind yourself that you will change with diligence, patience, and time.
In the above step, I compared this process to farming. Well, farming is hard work!
Pay attention to your “crop” and get rid of anything that hinders their growth.
Here are Jesus’ words in Mark 4:26-29:
And He said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
So progression is clearly God ordained.
This is quite unlike the mindset of our “impulsive, flesh-driven, gotta-have-it-now” culture.
Trust that as you are diligent in pulling up the weeds, planting new seeds, and nurturing those seeds, the change process will happen over time.
Genesis 8:22 says,
While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”
So the word “time” is bundled with the “seed.” Since you can’t get around this, make time work for you through planting lots of good seeds consistently!
The Lord has given us His word to deliver us from our destructions and to heal us.
Our work is to be diligent to overwrite our old scripts so that we can obtain the glorious future He has for us – for our sake and for others sake!
Originally published 3/14/2017; Updated 6/26/2021
Be Blessed with Health, Healing, and Wholeness,
Author of the Take Back Your Temple program
P.S. Do you struggle with overeating sugar? If so, you are not alone!
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