You can’t change behaviors without first changing your thinking.
As a health coach, I know the first step to making dietary or healthy habit changes is to examine how a person is thinking about the changes and themselves. Often clients feel like they can’t change their diet or exercise habits because they’ve tried in the past and failed. They hear the same negative recording over and over. “I’ll never be able to change. I don’t have time. I can’t. I’m not strong enough. I don’t have enough will power.”
Satan would love nothing more than to see you discouraged and have you replay how you’re not enough, how you can’t do it, remind you that you don’t measure up and that you’re all alone in this. By allowing those tapes to replay in your mind and heart, you start to believe them. This allows Satan to steal your joy, thus your strength. You practically hand it him on a silver platter. Then, what you think and believe affects your choices and behaviors. It is like a negative feedback loop that keeps you stuck.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then, you will be able to prove what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
God wants you to partner with him in kingdom work, to display and demonstrate his goodness and his will on earth as it is in heaven. How can you change the world for Christ if you are conforming to it in your thinking? How can you demonstrate Christ’s love in your actions, behavior and life when you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself?
Renewing Your Mind
As a Christian, you know that God can change your heart and that you have received the mind of Christ. But, it is up to you to actively participate in changing your thought patterns in the process of renewing your mind. So, how do you renew your mind? Here’s a few ways to start changing thought patterns:
- Cultivate awareness. The first thing is bringing awareness to what you are thinking. In our fast paced world, we are on autopilot and not even aware of our thoughts. Start noticing and bring awareness to your thoughts so you can change the channel of your mind. You can set an alarm on your phone and when it alerts you, stop. Pause and examine what you were thinking about. Driving in the car, every stop light, reflect on what you were just thinking. Set some trigger that gets you to pause and notice your thoughts. Another way to cultivate awareness in a more concrete way is to focus on being fully present in the task you are doing. For example, when doing dishes don’t think of your to-do list or mindlessly run the last conversation you had over in your mind and let your thoughts get away from you. Focus on the warmth of the water, smoothness of the plate, silkiness of the soapy bubbles. Be aware of what you are doing in that moment. This will help in starting to build awareness of your thoughts.
- Examine your motives. When you can’t get your jeans on and you are starting to self-deprecate, stop and think. Do you want to lose weight because you feel less than because the world tells you that you should be a certain size? Is it just vanity? Or, do you really want to feel healthy enough to do the things you’re called to do? Why do you say ‘yes’ too often and over-extend yourself leaving no time for meal planning or exercise? What are your motives? Are they God honoring or do they need adjusting?
- Pick up your weapon. Search the word for who God says you are and memorize those verses. Jesus is our example and he fought off Satan’s attacks with scripture. You can’t fight Satan’s whispers without weapons in your arsenal. You are more than a conqueror, you are clothed in righteousness, you have everything you need for life and godliness, he calls you beautiful (Romans 8:37, Isaiah 61:10, 2 Peter 1:3, Song of Solomon 2:10). Find your specific ‘rhema’ word to fight off the lies. Speak them out loud. Words carry power.
- Change your network. Your brain creates pathways with your thoughts. Your thoughts are influenced by what and who you listen to. What are you listening to in the car, at home? Who are you being influenced by? Want a happier marriage? Hang out with other people who demonstrate that and speak life to you in that area. Want to eat healthier? Hang out with people who have habits you want to create. You become like the five closest friends you have. The people around you influence your thoughts. Who is influencing you? Do you need to change your network?
- Connect. If you see everyone’s perfect moments online and then feel like you don’t measure up, disconnect awhile. We are more connected than ever and yet more isolated than ever. If YouTube and Facebook are your closest friends, you need new friends. Go hang out with real people who lift you up and are in a place in life where you want to be.
- Get outside. Being in nature, God’s creation, is restorative. Go for a walk. It oxygenates your brain and refreshes you. Sunshine also provides vitamin D which has been shown to help boost mood. This is good for your brain and thinking.
- Daydream. We are constantly bombarded with information. We have a fear of missing out, of not being in the know. This constant influx of information, videos, music, and noise is over-stimulating, draining and actually harms your brain. Let your mind take a break and rest. Just sit and daydream a while. Ask the Holy Spirit, your helper, to direct your thoughts. Don’t look at your phone or play a mindless app. Close your eyes and just be still. Or, notice the detail in the weave of fabric, a fallen leaf or a beautiful painting. Rest your brain.
- Pray. The best defense is a good offense. Talking to God is the first thing we should be doing. Prayer can actually change neurochemistry in the brain. Brain scans can actually measure changes in the connections in your brain when prayer or meditation is done consistently over an 8-week period. Want to renew thinking? Just talk to God. Spend time in his presence. Need peace? Go to the Prince of Peace.
Transform Your Thoughts, Transform Your Behavior
Thinking the same things over and over and expecting your life to move in the direction you long for is not realistic. If what you are thinking is not working for you, it is time for a change. Although God can move your heart, he won’t push you into your destiny. You have a choice. You are called to be an active participant in his plan. You have a role to play. You are valued by the King of Kings. He prepared good works for you to do while you are here. It starts with your thoughts. Your thoughts will move you in the direction you want to go. Transform your thoughts and you will transform your behavior and the direction of your life will follow.
As a health coach, I help women who are stuck in old habits change their thinking patterns and finally stick to healthy habits so they can start fulfilling God’s purposes in their lives. If you are stuck, schedule a free 15-minute consultation. Let’s talk about how health coaching can help you get unstuck and so you can finally move forward.