Iron Mind

Something Has to Change: Episode 19

Meggan Stephens

4/17/20247 min read

low light stage microphone photography
low light stage microphone photography

Scientific vs. Spiritual

Much of the Something Has to Change series has been focused on the understanding of the mind. More specifically, understanding why one thinks the way in which they do. Stephen explains the two ways in which we comprehend thoughts by giving not only a scientific definition, but a spiritual definition as well. Scientifically, thoughts are defined as perceptions that include data from the past, present, or future, or a combination of the three. They are generated internally. In laymen's terms, thoughts stem from what you have been exposed to, things you may have seen, heard, or experienced. The example is given of a young child who uses language typically unspoken by the parent or other members of the household. The parents are astounded and immediately question where the child could have picked up the word. The reality is, it was heard from someone, somewhere, at some point in time.

The spiritual definition of a thought is simple and straight-forward. Thoughts are spirits. You may wonder from where in the Bible does the definition come. Well, Jesus says in John 6:63, "...The words that I have spoken to you are spirit, and are life." The words in which we speak are first thoughts in our mind. We give life to our thoughts the moment we birth them into words through the womb of the lips. Though Jesus spoke according to the Holy Spirit, He was not without temptation by thoughts from an unholy spirit. This is clear in Matthew 4:3 when Satan tries to persuade Jesus to turn stones into bread during His fast in the wilderness. In verse 4, Jesus resists the temptation as He recognizes the spirit behind the intrusive thought spoken to His mind in that moment.

Intrusive Thoughts

Matthew 12:43-45 further explains the thoughts are spirits understanding as it speaks of unclean spirits going out of a man. When a spirit goes out of a person, it is not physically seen. However, you can feel the absence of its presence. You can recognize an intrusive thought by the feeling it brings upon entering your mind. This directly ties into the quote from Episode 18. "Thoughts create feelings. Feelings create behavior."

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted, random, and sometimes even disturbing thoughts that run through your head. They have a tendency to be on loop, distracting and overwhelming the mind so much so that they overtake the ability to think and reason properly. Intrusive thoughts are related to mental health disorders such as OCD, PTSD, PPD, anxiety, and depression. They are triggered by insomnia, hormone imbalances, stress, and anxiety. Intrusive thoughts can affect anyone at any given time. The key is to try the spirit, test it to see whether or not it is of God. If you find yourself dealing with these unwanted, disturbing thoughts and you recognize it, you're on the right road. There is a way to fight against them.

Fighting Intrusive Thoughts

Because an intrusive thought has the power to put itself on loop in your mind, you have to find a way to get out of your own head. Stephen jokingly says "Don't go out of your mind" in the sense that you go crazy, but to fixate your mind on something external. As someone who often experiences meddling looped thoughts, this piece of advice is life-changing. Taking the focus off of what you're dwelling on while placing it on something happening outside of you, yet still in the room, may not alleviate the thought completely in the moment. However, it will eventually cause the thought to flee, but resisting is required. Otherwise, thoughts, more specifically spirits, will overtake your mind.

Another way to fight intrusive, or invasive, thoughts is through meditation. Practicing meditation for five to ten minutes a day can strengthen the mind. You may find that during your meditation, disturbing thoughts might arise. Typically, disturbing thoughts stem from past traumas lingering in the subconscious mind.

Stephen expresses the importance of understanding what is trauma versus what is simply a lousy experience. Trauma is defined as an event that fundamentally changes the way that your nervous system works to the point that you function less adaptively going forward from that event. The best way to fight a disturbing thought is by immediately rejecting it. Stephen says "Give it no eye contact." Just as a salesman hooks you once you give them your eyes, disturbing thoughts take you captive once you give them access to your mind.

Protect Your Mind

The mind is a powerful tool, yet it cannot hold two thoughts at once. With this understanding, it is clear that the key to overcoming intrusive thoughts is to stand your ground and change the channel. Unwanted, disturbing, distracting thoughts have no claim to the territory of your mind. Resist and dismiss. Police your thoughts by standing on the words of Isaiah in 59:19 which says, "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." Your mind is yours to protect, to build, and to develop.

Spiritual vs. Physical Solutions

Stephen leads into the next topic stating something that most won't care to admit. Christians tend to over-spiritualize everything, relating all their problems to demons rather than understanding that some issues are simply physical. He references the scriptures Deuteronomy 25:28 and Mark 12:30 which both state the commandment to love God with all of your heart, soul, and strength. While the text differs slightly from Old Testament to New, all bases are covered when traced back to the original Hebrew script. The heart is essentially the mind, the soul is the body, and the strength is our resources. God is essentially commanding us to love him with all of our Spirit, flesh, and accumulations, with all that we are, and all that we have.

With this being said, it is clear that God is commanding us to love him with not only our spirits, but with our bodies as well. We seem to miss that part quite often and find ourselves praying spiritually for God to deliver us from physical afflictions that we are putting on ourselves through what we put on and into our bodies. Though some issues may very well be spiritual, many are also simply physical. It is important to understand wether what you're dealing with is related to the way you're physically caring for your body, or spiritually caring for your mind.

To further clarify this topic, Stephen gives the example of a person who is praying to lose weight yet does not change their eating or exercise practices. This is a spiritual request to a physical problem. In reality, we're asking of God what He has given us the power and mind to do ourselves. It is essentially the same mindset as not expecting to do any works because Jesus did it all. No, in fact, He left a work for us to do on our end as well. James reiterates this in chapter two of his book when writing "Faith without works is dead." We will only begin to see changes in our physical issues when we create new habits and practices that support the change we want to see in ourselves.

Underlying Cause of Depression

Depression affects millions, both publicly and silently. The most disheartening news to hear is that of a believer who has committed suicide after a long, silent battle with depression, which happens more often than discussed. As believers, we should be filled with the joy of the Lord. When we're not, we must stop and ask ourselves, why? Where am I mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically? Where is my relationship with God and where does it need to be? I recently had to do this myself and assess wether the way I've been feeling is due to a spiritual disconnect, a physical disconnect, or both.

Stephen closes the episode with mind-boggling information found by the research of Dr. David Jockers and Andrew Huberman. Recent studies have shown that what scientists originally thought to be causing depression may not in fact be the real culprit. Older studies link depression to chemical imbalances in the brain and deficiencies in serotonin and dopamine. Newer studies by Jockers and Huberman are linking the major underlying cause of depression to chronic brain inflammation. Yes, inflammation has been shown to not only lead to depression, but has the capability to increase the severity of depression symptoms.

Reducing Inflammation

Depression can not only be relieved, but can actually be totally eliminated through reducing inflammation in the brain. There are several steps that can be taken to implement an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. One is to increase your intake of essential fatty acids such as Omega 3's which are found in cod liver oil, sardine oil, and fish oil. 1000 mg of EPA fatty acids have been shown to be just as effective as SSRIs, prescription anti-depressants.

Another way to reduce inflammation is by implementing a ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet has been proven to help reverse Type 2 Diabetes, thyroid issues, epilepsy, and countless other medical conditions. Adjusting your diet is a great way to help you feel better. Huberman's research has proven a ketogenic diet to be effective against depression in patients who were previously treatment resistant. We hate to admit it, but the saying is true. We are what we eat, and it's not all that surprising to realize you feel like garbage because that's what you've been feeding yourself.

Something Has to Change

The "something" that has to change is our practices. What good is it to have a plethora of knowledge that is never put into action? To be in a habit of doing the same things week after week, experiencing the same mental results and continually praying to God for change without taking the initiative to change our practices is the real issue. At some point, we have to stop being consumers of knowledge, and start being doers of the wisdom we hold.

Stephen leaves us with three major action steps to implement change. The first is to practice mindfulness. The mind is a spiritual and physical muscle that must be trained in order to become stronger. The second is to identify the area of the battle. Battles arise in multiple ways. Assess whether the issue is spiritual or physical in order to know whether you need a Word for the win or just a diet change. The last action step is to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Eliminate that which is causing inflammation of the mind and body.

DISCLAIMER: The host is not suggesting to stop taking any prescribed medications, but is advising alternative supplements for those seeking holistic approaches. He recommends consulting with your physician prior to making changes regarding medications or diet.

If it wasn't evident before, it very much is now. God is clearly and deliberately using Contemporary Speaks, a weekly health-based podcast, to speak to and strengthen His people. In Episode 19 of Something Has to Change, the host, Stephen, gives insight to his own experience from the series since transitioning from weekly pastoring to podcast speaking. In doing so, he expresses feeling less stressed and more educated in the understanding of his own mind. In the same way, this podcast is for anyone looking to experience something similar while learning to strengthen one of the most important muscles in the body, the mind.

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