I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead...
Our memories are extremely important in the way we navigate the course of life. They can create despair, inspiration, or peace of mind. They influence both the present and future. However, it is our memories of the past that will matter most about how we deal with the present and future.
Past unpleasant and painful memories tend to linger longer. They linger longer because they are embedded thoughts in our mind. For example, a painful childhood experience happened to you, and you think about continuously by revisiting it. It negatively influences your feelings and behaviors and keeps you from forgiving and releasing the person who hurt you. That memory becomes an obstacle to your emotional healing. Your need for emotional healing impacts your physical body and your brain, which is part of your physical body.
When you think about that painful experience, your reaction to that memory is critical. As a child, you had no control over that painful experience; however, you now have control over your reactions to those memories embedded in your mind when you think about what happened to you.
Dr. Caroline Leaf writes in her book, Switch On Your Brain—The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health:
“Our mind is designed to control the body, of which the brain is a part… Matter does not control us; we control matter through our thinking and choosing. We cannot control the events or circumstances of life, but we can control our reactions. In fact, we can control our reactions to anything, and in doing so, we change our brains. It’s not easy; it is hard work, but it can be done through our thoughts and choices.” *
But let’s talk about choices. Free will to choose is one of God’s most gracious gifts to humanity! However, it can be one of our most dangerous freedoms. We have the liberty of choosing what we focus our attention on—the negative, painful thoughts or the positive, pleasant and happy memories. Our ability to choose freely what we focus our attention on affects how the chemicals and proteins and wiring of our brain change and function.
Scientists are proving that the relationship between what you think and how you understand yourself—your beliefs, dreams, hopes, and thoughts—has a huge impact on how your brain works. Research shows that 75 to 98 percent of mental, physical, and behavioral illness comes from one’s thought life.
Therefore, the answer to the article’s title question depends on one’s decision to answer the following questions honestly:
What do you choose to focus your attention on?
How will you choose to react when the thoughts of your painful past memories come to mind?
The gracious gift of free will to choose God’s way of thinking should be assurance that what God has empowered us to do with our mind is more powerful and effective than any medication, any threat, any sickness, or any neurological challenge. The Scripture is clear on this: You do not have a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). *
Memories can be healed when we choose our reactions to toxic thinking. This does not mean denying what happened to you; it means you can choose how you will react when you think about your reality. Also, we are not saying it is easy; it is hard work and a process that may require professional help to experience healing. Also, learning how to capture and redirect our unhealthy and painful thoughts about the past. But God empowers and enables us to capture those thoughts that can produce unforgiveness and bitterness.
The Scripture is clear on how to control our thoughts: And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT.*
Choosing how you will react to the painful memories is the first step to getting on the path to healing. Learning how to redirect, refocus and capture toxic thinking increases your capacity to reach your fullest potential. As you allow the Holy Spirit to navigate your healing journey, you will begin living out God’s purpose, while experiencing the peace and power available for Kingdom living.
©2022 Queen Esther Phillips. A Majestic Publication. All rights reserved.
2013. "Dr." In Switch On Your Brain, by Caroline Leaf, 34-37. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.