thoughts like little trees

IMG_7096.JPG
IMG_7113.JPG
IMG_7240.JPG
3B3A7891.CR2.jpeg

I'm currently reading Dr Caroline Leaf's Switch on Your Brain. 
Slowly.
It's science, backing up scripture, backing science - and all about our thought life. 

If I'm honest (which I am, always) and vulnerable (which I try my best to be in this space, despite how difficult it can be!) I thought I had my thought-life under control as much as I could, but there was a part of me that resigned myself to the fact that I was always going to struggle with darkness in my mind.
Over the years I've struggled with crippling insecurity, shyness, and the tired (yet very effective) tirade of thoughts about myself that kinda sound a lot like 'you're not good enough' 'no one likes you' 'he only stays with you out of obligation' 'he wishes you were more like that other girl' 'you're not exceptional, only average - if you're lucky' 'don't even bother trying, it won't be good enough'  - not to mention all the ones that point out physical flaws. Blah.
Then, as well as those mean thoughts, I was using my imagination to hurt myself.
My husband would go to work and I would concoct stories in my mind that felt so real, about where he really was and who he was really with and I sowed all sorts of suspicion and resentment into our marriage. 
I knew I was being silly, but I couldn't stop. It was ugly.
It's crazy how much this toxic thinking affected my confidence in who I am, and who I'm called to be, not to mention how it affected my relationships!
I even questioned the authenticity of my relationship with God because surely I couldn't be living life as a Christian, yet still be in a place where toxic thoughts reigned supreme in my mind so often.

Then, I started fighting. I knew what the Bible said about renewing my mind, and thinking only on things that are pure and lovely, and taking every thought captive and lining them up with God's thoughts... but I'd never really been intentional in putting them into practice. 
But I knew I couldn't go on the way I was, my thoughts were making me sick with worry and anxiety and anger and cynicism. 
I started by using car rides on the way to uni and back to pray and speak out the opposite of what I'd actually be thinking.
I started to cut those thoughts off when they came and say (often out loud!) NO I'm not going to think that.
I started doing all the things anyway, even when the thoughts would come and tell me that someone else could do it better. 
I used every ounce of strength I had to pull up my big girl panties and refuse to believe the lies that felt like they'd wormed deep into my brain and would never go away.

Of course, I still have moments where doubt comes. But I've learned not to let it stay.
And this book? Reminds me that although I've come so far, there's hope for so much more.
"For now, rest in the assurance that what God has empowered you to do with your mind is more powerful and effective than any medication, any threat, any sickness, or any neurological challenge" - Dr Caroline Leaf
We can consciously, with our own free will, change and direct our own thinking and wire out toxic thoughts. 
With those thoughts, we allow them to permeate into our brains and actual little branches grow and make connections with other little branches. That you can see. IN YOUR BRAIN. What?!! 

I love the idea that there are tiny little trees in our brains, and I can grow them green and healthy, just by refusing to think toxic thoughts, and replacing those thoughts with good ones. 

So, here's to not believing lies, to thinking good thoughts - I think they will shine out of your face like sunbeams (Roald Dahl, you legend). Lets refuse to live small lives in doubt and disillusionment. Here's to switching on our brains.

x

journal | settle you down

IMG_3088.JPG
IMG_3089.JPG

I can recognise when it's coming, now.  Almost like I can hear it's near-silent footsteps or pick up the familiar scent, or I'm aware of the almost imperceptible prickling under my skin. Overwhelm.

When it creeps in unnoticed, so too do the thoughts that don't belong there. The ones that point at the circumstances and smugly lift an eyebrow, don't even bother trying, you're not good enough. You can't do this.

I started to feel it too, a bit of the overwhelm, and wondered if indeed I could do all the things that seemingly stood, large and intimidating like mountains in front of me. I couldn't focus, I didn't even know where to begin, squirmed inwardly and outwardly too. 

But then my heart was stilled, reminded of the verse that says lead me to the rock that is higher than I. * 

I looked at the time, dropped what I was doing and made an appointment with Peace.
The beach was completely empty but for the seagulls and I could see so clearly to the islands over the stretch of incredible blue. And instead of allowing the overwhelm a place in my heart or the thoughts a place in my mind, I pounded the sand as I pounded out my prayers. Refusing to let feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy become bigger than my faith. 

It's amazing what happens when we lift our eyes. It's amazing what happens when we cast our cares. "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."**

Christ displaces worry. I know it doesn't make sense, but it's truth. And yes, the circumstances I pounded out prayers about were still there when I arrived back to the part of the beach where I started - but the overwhelm wasn't.
Because there's a peace the the mind can't understand that comes when you just lay it all before Him and let your heart settle down.

xx

* Psalm 61:2
** Philippians 4:6-7 The Message Paraphrase