I admit it – I’m a geek. Moreover, I was a geek before it was cool to be a geek. I clearly remember many youthful days when my mother would come home from work to find another digital clock, radio or appliance in pieces as I worked to reverse engineer or repair whatever went wrong. Eventually, I even learned how to put them back together and sometimes, I can even repair them.
After obtaining a certificate in electronics and a computer degree, I embarked on more productive efforts in my field of intrigue and began to teach as well. In ministry, I often wished I could fix people as easy as I could repair bad components or buggy code.
Over the years I discovered that only the original programmer has the ability to repair our mental malware and bad programming. In studying leadership coaching and neuroscience, I have begun to understand that our mind, in many ways, is programmed just like a computer – through input. As I learned many years ago, a computer is only as good as its programming. If you put garbage in, you will get garbage out. If you put good things in, it can be phenomenally helpful and productive. The same is true of our minds.
The way our minds are programmed is through our emotional responses to experiences and the things we say to ourselves (self-talk.) The challenge is, we are not always aware of the programming we are receiving.
Current research reveals that seventy-five percent or more of what we say to ourselves goes unnoticed by our conscious mind. It does not, however, go unnoticed by our unconscious mind. These hidden programs shape the neural circuits in our brain and affect the way we live our lives and respond to others.
Self-Talk Expert Dr. Shad Helmstetter, in his book “The Power of Neuro-Plasticity”, writes, “You are creating, at this moment, the person you’re going to become tomorrow and you are physically wiring that person in to your brain”. If we are not careful, we will live our lives on auto-pilot and end up at a destination that we never consciously chose.
If we want our lives to head in the direction of our conscious choosing, we must first become aware of what we are saying to ourselves. We must be careful to listen in on our private conversations. When we tell ourselves we are stupid, or can’t do something, we are wiring our brain to deliver those results. While this is bad enough, this kind of self-talk is also a disservice to our Creator who designed us for good works (Eph 2:10).
So the first step, is to scan for malware in your self-talk. Next time I will give you some practical tips to begin reprogramming your mind toward the person God created you to be. But don’t forget in the meantime to eavesdrop on your self-talk.