The reference comes from Romans12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the patterns 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. " (NIV)
The “patterns of this world" that Saint Paul is describing are the thoughts, beliefs and interpretations that we have accumulated from our life. Influences of parents, teachers, coaches and peers have left indelible impressions on us and shaped the way we think. But the problem is more difficult than that because as the science of cognitive psychology has proven through years of research on hundreds of thousands of adults and children is that we are not aware of most of what we are thinking. The vast majority of our thoughts are imperceptible, occurring on the outer edges of awareness very quickly and rapidly. Most of the time we can not even recall the thought or belief, but they have a profound effect on the way we feel and behave. This is one of the cornerstones of our program: that how you think determines how you feel. Now putting this all together you soon realize that if we're not aware of what we think or believe then there is a lot of our experience that we are powerless over. Negative and overwhelming feelings just seem to happen to us.
Try This At Home
To demonstrate that we are not fully aware of most of our thoughts, try this simple and fun exercise for yourself. First you will need a pen and notepad and a simple timer: a watch with alarm or a kitchen timer will do nicely. Set the timer to go off in 7 minutes and then continue on with your day. When the timer goes off immediately write down whatever you were thinking or daydreaming about. Repeat this process several times throughout the day, randomly changing the amount of time so that it always surprises you when it goes off. Do this enough times to build up a substantial log. When you review this list a day or so later you will be amazed at how many unresolved conflicts and worries are rattling around in your head that never reach full awareness or get your undivided attention.
It is by logging these “silent assumptions" and “automatic thoughts" that you begin to gain the awareness necessary to make effective change in your life.
In our upcoming book and in the classes we teach we give you the tools you need to further uncover these barely perceptible thoughts and reframe or re-interpret them so that they produce healthy and constructive feelings, and give you a much greater sense of control over your life. Hence the second part of Paul's’ admonition to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind. " Developing an awareness of your automatic beliefs and then changing them to produce more happiness, less suffering and more control is the essence of real transformation.
The last part of Paul's instruction is the beautiful part: “Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. " We have found that by becoming aware of and replacing the unhealthy thoughts, pathways to a greater experience of the promises of Faith become much more accessible. Christ promised “abundant life" (John 101:10) and our experience is that God's grace, and infinite love becomes the rich reward for the hard work of renewing your mind. With the impediment of distorted thinking out of the way life becomes an experience of much richer gratitude, hope and increased blessings. This is the essence of real transformation. By removing these mental obstacles, faith becomes much more accessible. Christ promised “abundant life” (John 101:10) and our experience is that God's grace, and infinite love become the rich reward for the hard work of renewing your mind. With the impediment of distorted thinking out of the way life becomes an experience of much richer gratitude, hope and increased blessings.
Dr. Sandbek is co-author of “What the Hell was I Thinking?" He is a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a credentialed school psychologist. Patrick graduated from UCLA with a BA in English Literature. He loves to write and teach. He has published articles in Soaring Magazine on performance enhancement, and is the co-author of “What the Hell was I thinking?".