Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Toxic Thoughts

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a brain and learning specialist from South Africa who travels all over the world lecturing to both Christian and secular audiences. She focuses on the untapped potential of the human brain, and believes that, "87% to 95% of the illnesses that plague us today, are a direct result of our thought life. What we think about affects us physically and emotionally. It's an epidemic of toxic emotions."

In Dr. Leaf's website, Switch On Your Brain, she explains the importance of consciously controlling your thought life to detoxify your brain. "It allows you to get rid of those toxic thoughts and emotions that can consume and control your mind." But, how do you go about detoxing your brain and consciously controlling your thoughts? After considering some mental processes, she believes there are four simple techniques involved in the process of "bringing all thoughts into captivity."

First, you must understand that thoughts are real and have an actual anatomy. Second, you increase the conscious awareness of your thoughts and how you are feeling. Third, you do something once you have analyzed the thought, meaning you make a conscious decision to actively accept the thought (if it is good for you), or reject it (if it is bad for you). The last technique is to build new memories over the old. You create a structural representation of what you have chosen to accept, and converts what you have chosen to reject into hot air.

Last week in class, the mind was discussed as being one of the five basic aspects of the immaterial man that is uniquely, and consistently referenced throughout scripture. As future Christian counselors, we will work with client's material and immaterial aspects of the mind, and therefore it is important that we understand the affects of toxic thoughts on both aspects of the mind. Special revelation tells us about God's truth, mercy, grace, and sacrifice. With Dr. Leaf's four techniques we are challenged to be aware of what we are thinking, choose to accept good thoughts, and build new memories, which as believers should line up with God's truth. Scriptures are purposeful messages God wants men to know about, and it is important to apply these truths to our life. The Bible tells us to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), to renew our minds (Romans 12:2), and to think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable (Philippians 4:8). Jay Adams, Neil Anderson, and Larry Crabb all emphasize the importance of becoming more like Christ, which starts by allowing scripture to fill our minds. Are the thoughts that consume you, and control your mind today based on what God says is true, or are they thoughts that are toxic that need to be rejected?


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  2. I feel like the topic of renewing your mind has been a theme in many of our recent class posts...and I think God is trying to tell me to pay attention! This post is a great reminder how our toxic thoughts can also affect us physically. I think the word "toxic" is very applicable to many of my thoughts, even though I wish it were not true, and I honestly haven't paid much attention to potential physical ramifications. I'm definitely convicted by reading this that my thoughts not only as a grad student, but also as an eventual Christian counselor will need to be detoxing our brains, but making sure we then make them obedient to Christ...the process never ends. This will also help us to reduce counter transference, and help us to see clients in a less biased way, and potentially help us reduce the risk of burnout. This post makes me want to do more research on how thoughts could have anatomy, and if true, supports how we had suggested early on in this class that thoughts may have more material origins than immaterial.


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