In our second week of Heart Smart we look at the New Testament teaching on reigning over the relational brain. Understanding how God wired our brains can help us to learn how to take our thoughts captive to Christ.
In our second week of the Heart Smart series, we look at the New Testament teaching on reigning over the relational brain. Last week, we talked about the Apostle Paul teaching believers to do everything in love. This means that all our relationships should reflect cross-like love. In order for us to allow God to funnel his cross-like love through us and into the world, we must learn to align our thoughts and feelings on things that are noble, gracious, beautiful, good, and praiseworthy. If we do not learn to align our thoughts and feelings with the good, then we will cork this funnel of God’s love from going out into the world through us. Understanding how God wired our brains will help us to learn how to take our thoughts captive to Christ. We are given a thinking brain and a feeling brain. Our thinking brain is the part responsible for rational thought and logic. Our feeling brain does many things, but the specific area we are discussing today is the amygdala—the area of the brain that signals the fight or flight response triggered when we are in danger. The amygdala sends out chemicals that decrease the thinking brains ability to respond. While the fight or flight response is important in the event of true physical danger, the amygdala isn’t able to discern the difference between physical and emotional danger very well. This means that there are times we react to people, situations, or events in a way that is incongruent to our Jesus-like selves even if our intentions are good.
There is another problem we face if we allow our fight or flight response to take over in social or emotional attacks. While the amygdala is incapable of thinking rationally; it is capable of learning. This means that each time you recall an event in your mind or retell an event to another person, the amygdala is triggered once more, believing it is happening to you again. After a while you will start to feel as though this type of event happens to you all the time. To train ourselves not to let the amygdala dictate our behaviors, we can take steps to prevent the social and emotional reactions from affecting our thoughts. Since our feeling brain is trained by our life experiences and choices, we first must choose what we pay attention to and remember we receive our life from Christ alone. It is also important to learn to slow down when we feel ourselves triggered—the simple act of removing ourselves to relax and breath is helpful. As we stay connected to Jesus and practice gratefulness, we will become more able to take our thoughts captive to Christ and meditating on things above.
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.