Mind Over Matter

Something Has to Change: Episode 17

Meggan Stephens

4/3/20247 min read

low light stage microphone photography
low light stage microphone photography

Stop Overthinking

In order to experience change, we must learn to stop overthinking. Overthinking is so much of a prevalent topic that many scientists have done extensive research on the matter. That research suggests an estimated 73% of people between the ages of 25-35, and 52% of people aged 45-55 struggle with chronic overthinking. Overthinking occurs when you allow your mind to drift, to run on and on in the wrong direction for too long. It is considered to be the enemy of productivity, and is quite the waster of time. Stephen uses the term analysis paralysis, which I personally have never heard until this episode. Upon hearing that term, I've now come across other podcasts and YouTube channels discussing that very subject.

Analysis Paralysis

Analysis Paralysis is a phrase used to describe the feeling of being unable to make decisions due to overthinking. I personally battle with this feeling often. The simplest of tasks such as meal planning and grocery shopping become overwhelming because my mind begins to run away from me. I can spend literal hours trying to map out nutritious meals in efforts to implement healthy eating habits, followed by loading items into my Kroger cart for a pickup order, only to second-guess myself and put off buying groceries for several days. Despite knowing that worrying cannot add any hours to your life, according to the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:27, I find myself doing just that quite often, as many of us may do.

I recently heard someone say, "It's not that serious, just do it." Killing the analysis paralysis is done when you simply take that first step of action, which Stephen has spoken on episode after episode. The mindset of "it's not that serious" is not to downplay the seriousness of any situation, but rather to assess the situation for what it is, putting it in the right perspective. For example, planning meals for the week is not that serious. It shouldn't be a task that causes my mind to go off the hinges and bring me to an overwhelmed emotional state.

How to Stop Overthinking

Overthinking hinders growth and productivity in more ways than one. The host offers a few tactics to combat this common issue that may be paralyzing your progress. Because overthinking is essentially worrying, or dwelling on the wrong thing, it's important to focus on how to be productive. We were created to be productive, so it makes perfect sense that when we aren't, we're idle, and you know what they say: "Idle hands are the devil's playground." Idleness leads to an anxious, worrisome mind which in turn leads to depression and despair, hence the perfect playground for the enemy to frolic as he wishes.

It is equally important to not let your thoughts drift to what could happen. This can be done in such a way as to induce your own panic attack. I've seen it to be true in myself as well as others. The mind is a powerful tool, and your mind matters. As we've learned in recent episodes, your thoughts control your life. Proverbs 4:23 instructs us to be careful of what we're thinking about for this very reason.

Not only do we find ourselves sometimes thinking up imaginations of what could be, we can often end up on the other side, ruminating over what was. Stephen refers to this as a "pigeon-hole mind." Basically, it is the stewing vs. reflecting concept. I personally have a tendency to have this sort of mind. I find myself stewing on my failures, stuck replaying them many times over in my mind long after the situation has passed. Rather than reflecting and taking away the lesson, I can get caught up in kicking myself while I'm down. In doing so, the situation becomes magnified and I've made it into something it wasn't to begin with.

With this being said, Stephen advises for us to learn to be aware when the mind is drifting. I am reminded of a rule that I once learned but have since become complacent with practicing which is "Catch it in the first five seconds." When the thought comes, recognize it to be positive or negative. If it's negative, combat it with a positive thought. Sometimes it's not enough to simply dismiss it. More often than not, you must fight it with a powerful Word, one that is not your own, but is of He holds the utmost power.

Your Thoughts Control:

Thoughts are paramount. The way in which you think controls everything from your perspective to your ability to learn, your emotions, beliefs, and even your success. The very being of your true self is determined by your thought pattern, your neural pathways. Once again, your life will always follow in the direction of your thoughts.

Your perspective is based on how you think, and your perspective is typically similar to those in your circle. You've probably heard the old saying, you are who you hang with. This is true in the sense that you will begin to talk and to think like those around you. The closer you are to someone, the easier it is to see their perspective on a matter. This leads us back to the opening question, "What good is it if we don't get God's perspective?" Relationship is always important, but relationship with God is first and foremost. If our perspective is not in line with His, we will find ourselves influenced by contrary things which then can affect our ability to learn and reason.

The ability to learn, understand, and grow, especially spiritually, is determined by how you think. It's easy to become numb, to shut off wisdom, and remain where you're at. Sometimes we just don't care to acquire new information because then we'll feel obligated to change. The Bible refers to this as foolish thinking. Too often we get to this place of foolishness because of how we feel emotionally.

Where you are emotionally is controlled by your thoughts. If we're not careful to implement Proverbs 4:23, our minds will drift to those unwanted places that lead to sadness, anger, frustration, pity, comparison, and countless other emotions. I find myself warring against my emotions often, realizing that my thoughts can sometimes drift negatively. The host suggests bumper-proofing your mind. I imagine this as allowing the negativity around me to bounce off rather than seeping into my thoughts because again, the mind matters. My mind matters. It matters so much that the circumstances surrounding me have no actual right to dictate my mood. It can only do so if I choose to allow it. The same is true for you and your mind.

Your success is based on your belief, both in which are also fueled by your thoughts. When you find yourself at rock bottom, the lowest of lows, what you believe internally will reveal itself. Within the core of who you are, is how you think. Sometimes you may find yourself stuck in a rut, but if you can believe within yourself that you are worthy of success, put that thought of belief into action, you can then grab the rope to change.

Keep It Moving

Proverbs 4:25-27 expresses the importance of keeping our eyes on the path. Turning to the left or the right is not only dangerous, but deadly. What does it look like to remove your eyes from the path ahead? It's to look back, or to look at others. Comparison becomes a great hindrance, basing our actions off of the actions of those alongside of us. Just as it can cause us to plateau in our progress, it can also cause us to regress, and let go of victory before we've ever achieved it. In surrendering your victory, you surrender your faith. Stephen explains to the audience that to let go of faith is to grab hold of something else, despair.

You must find the determination within you to keep it moving, no matter the storm, the seas rising, or the sky falling. Come out of your self-denial that tells you you're getting better when in fact, you're doing the opposite. Victory belongs to those who believe they can take hold of it. After all, Jesus says the violent take it by force. Everyone goes through darkness and difficult times, but the darkness will not prevail, for the sun will rise again. Contemporary Speaks YouTube channel has an encouraging "Grab the Rope" video series that quotes: "Don't give up. Take a step, and then another step. You're gonna make it."

Something Has to Change

The host closes Episode 17 in his usual fashion with three takeaways. These are the three "somethings" that must change and be implemented into your growth journey this week. The first is to be concerned with what must be done now. We can get caught up in making lists of everything that must be done and yet manage to not accomplish anything on the list. Avoid overthinking by centering your focus on the task at hand.

The second takeaway it to remember that you will only go where your mind is mentally capable of taking you. Whether it is to joy, or to despair, your mind must be mentally capable of driving you there. The destination is always determined by your thoughts.

The last takeaway is to shift your life to hit the desired target. Once you have an aim for your mind, keep it simple, keep it straight. Don't overthink or make things harder than they need to be. If something comes along that is not in line with your goal, learn to dodge it and keep it moving. As you face this week, remember that the only one stopping you, is you. God is for you and wants the best for you. Choose to want the best for yourself.

Derived from a biblical foundation, the mental health podcast, Contemporary Speaks, is discussing topics of personal issues while offering proven biblical solutions, that is if you choose to implement them. After all, "What does it matter if we don't get God's perspective?" questions the host, Stephen. In all of our trials and sufferings, advice can be given from family, peers, and even therapists. However, if that advice is contrary to the principles and perspective of God, it often leaves us in the same rut. Episode 17 of Something Has to Change opens with reference to Psalm 46:1 which reminds us that God is a present help in our times of need. In our lowest points, He is ready and willing to offer us a lending hand, the most valuable thing we can be given in our despair, His Word.

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