Ecosystems Of The Mind
(Approx 8 min)
Have you ever noticed a pattern in your life that you can’t break out of?
Am I forgetting any?
Whatever it is, I hope that none of us are walking through life willy nilly and not thinking about our behavior, or better yet, our character.
I don’t want you to think I just write about stuff to try tell YOU something. No, I’m not an expert. I’m just trying to bring “real” to you. Information without revelation is rarely absorbed. I’m running the race along side of you. I write devotions on stuff that God’s doing in me or people that I am in relationship with, so though I’m teaching it, I’m researching it and getting it in my spirit as well.
So let me ask again, have you ever noticed a pattern in your life that you feel like you just can’t seem to break free from?
Maybe you deal with insecurity, and over the years you’ve just learned to carry it with you. Maybe you try to ignore it all together and end up hurting others unintentionally.
Maybe you deal with anger issues, and you just believe that it is who you are now, or you justify it by saying, “well everyone has their thing.”
Maybe you deal with bitterness, and rather than forgiving people, you carry all that weight around and your bitterness has started to turn to heaviness.
Maybe you live life addicted to negativity or carry a constant bad attitude, and you allow the smallest thing at home or work set you off. Then you believe those people are all “out to get you”, then use that as an excuse for why you don’t have friends, but deep down, you like not having real friends because you prefer to live in negativity.
We all have something that we need to grow in to or out of, but it’s not always that simple. Saying it out loud to someone else when you aren’t dealing with it might make it seem simple, but it isn’t. It took years of intentionally being grateful and changing my thought patterns to get through depression. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Honestly, it comes back to try and tempt me every once in a while, usually in really bad bouts of insomnia.
For me, I’m currently going through reconfiguring my brain to understand true Holy Spirit discernment. I’ve had to break free from what I was calling discernment, but was completely wrong about. You can read my thoughts about it here.
Maybe you’re reading this right now and honestly, you are completely unaware of the patterns that you’re in, but you do feel like your life isn’t truly fulfilled. So much of it has to do with the invisible things that we don’t even stop to think about anymore. We create these ecosystems (patterns in our minds and our thought lives), and they have just become our normal.
So let me define Ecosystems… Now, the smart science geniuses reading this could probably explain this much better than I can, but everything that is sustainable and works in a pattern has an ecosystem, whether it’s good or bad. For instance, one ecosystem is happening to you right now and you don’t even see it. You just breathed in oxygen and breathed out carbon dioxide. Trees and plants then will absorb that carbon dioxide and in turn produce the oxygen that you breathe in without thinking. I realize that the process is MUCH more complex than that, but you get the point.
Ecosystems like this don’t just exist in nature, but also in our minds, and display themselves in our personality and our character. Most of the time, just like oxygen and carbon dioxide, they are invisible, and often not thought about.
However, Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We need to be active in renewing our minds in a world that is very passive about it.
Jim Cymbala said, “The world, flesh and Satan exert their own influences in an attempt to control the atmosphere of our minds. This is why the Apostle Paul orders Christians to put on ‘the helmet of salvation’ (Ephesians 6:17) in our spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness. No Roman soldier would go into battle without his helmet because head shots kill.”
We need to renew and protect our minds because life and death hang in the balance there.
So, now that we understand ecosystems, and we know just how important they are, let’s look at a few.
When it comes to managing our thought life and our spiritual life, what we cultivate dominates.
Maybe you deal with feeling unworthy. Often times I’ve seen the unworthiness ecosystem look something like this, “I feel unworthy, therefore I feel shame. When I feel shame, I go into hiding. When I hide, I’m separated from people and I feel disconnected, and when I am disconnected, I feel unworthy again.”
Another one is identity. “I can’t be the ‘real me’ because I don’t like who I am, so I’m going to pretend to be something I’m not so that others will like me, but I can’t make any real friends because then they might see the ‘real me’, which makes me feel like a fake and a flake and even further lose who I really am.
What about bitterness? “I am a bitter person, so it takes nothing for me to get angry. When I get angry, I lash out and say things I shouldn’t, then in turn, people reject me. Then when they reject me, I get bitter, then angry again.”
The really dangerous thing here is that these negative ecosystems, when not looked at through the microscope, turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. “This is who I am” becomes the story of your life. Most of the time it’s not who you are, but what you’ve chosen to cultivate.
Don’t let the phrase “This is who I am” become the story of your life.
What you cultivate dominates. You control the outcome of who you are, not the other way around.
Now, not all ecosystems in the mind are bad. John 10:10 says that we’ve been created to live an abundant life through Jesus.
One really good ecosystem can be found in Romans 5:3-5. The NASB translation says it like this:
“We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Essentially, tribulation brings perseverance, perseverance brings proven character, and proven character ultimately brings hope.
SO WHAT NOW?
Hopefully, as you have been reading this, the Holy Spirit has been stirring up the ecosystems in your mind. Whether it’s a negative attitude, an addictive habit that causes you to behave differently, rejection or unworthiness, I want to give you 5 steps that may help you transform your mental ecosystems. When you come up against a negative ecosystem, find it in this list and make it a goal to move to the next step.
In order to change your life, change your attitude.
In order to change your attitude, change your thoughts.
In order to change your thoughts, change your belief systems. One of my favorite books on this is “The Lies We Believe” by Dr. Chris Thurman. I couldn’t put it down.
In order to change your belief system, change your thinking habits, or what you give the most attention to (what you cultivate).
In order to change your thinking habits, change your will.
Wait, my what? I want to stop here because we don’t live in a culture that tells us to recognize the power of our will very often. We live in a culture that says, "If I feel it, then I am it.” But this is a lie.
We live in a world that tells you to go with your gut, but very seldom does your gut tell you to go. Your feelings are not your master. YOU get to tell your emotions what to do, not the other way around. YOU get to decide how you react to something, not the other way around. We have to do our part, then the Holy Spirit inside of us will pick up where we lack. If you want to change how you think, change your will.
See, it isn’t your wants or your desires that determine your future. That’s just daydreaming. It is your will that gets you the future you desire. I can “want” to get better at singing all day long, but until my will pushes and prods me past my desire to do it, I’ll never experience my wants.
If what you cultivate dominates, cultivate an ecosystem that gets God’s thoughts in you. Cultivate your relationship with God. Memorize the words that He says about you. Learn about what He thinks about you. Honestly, if it’s gotten to a point where you just can’t seem to get through and it feels hopeless, speak to a counselor. Get a life coach or a spiritual mentor.
I promise you, if you can overcome in your mind,
YOU WILL BE UNSTOPPABLE.
So here’s my question, Do you recognize or are you able to verbalize the negative ecosystems in your life? How have you broken out of them in the past? If you’re dealing with it right now, how are you, or how will you break out of it?