You are what you think.
You are what you feel.
I’ve heard it many times before.
Growing up, I was not always the most positive of children. My mother used to tell me to “Think positive!!!” and while I’d nod my head in agreement (sure, mom!), I internally scoffed at the idea.
Think positive? That was what teachers told their students to motivate them when they were struggling with school. Or what my mother would tell me when I was a fifth grader playing on the soccer field, timidly running up and down the grassy expanse as the bigger, stronger, more intimidating players dribbled around my shaky legs.
“If you don’t think you can stop them, then you can’t!”
I’d scoff at her words.
“But mom, I’m barely five feet tall. She’s a full head taller than me. Look at her legs! They are the size of my body.”
And so I’d continue running around the dirt field, feebly attempting to poke at a loose ball.
I never truly believed that words have power. Yeah, I knew I could write wonderfully moving essays and poems, and in that respect, my nouns, adjectives, and verbs had POWER. But the words I’d say to myself in my head? Nope.
And so that was what I believed. For the last thirty-some odd years of my life.
The internal voice running through my head when I couldn’t squat a certain weight would say, “See, you just aren’t strong enough.”
The internal voice running through my head when I went to deadlift a weight that caused me to pull my rib months prior would say, “Uh oh. Be careful. This may be too heavy. You hurt yourself the last time with this weight.”
The internal voice running through my head when my children cried and cried and cried as babies and I had no idea what to do to help them would say, “What a horrible mother you are. You can’t even soothe your own children.”
The internal voice was nasty. It was constant. It lingered in the recesses of my mind, and after days, months, years of perpetually negative tirades running rampant through my brain, I was a crumbled, tired mess.
It was in this moment when I stumbled upon Perry Nickelston and his IG account “Stop Chasing Pain.” While scrolling through his different posts about the lymphatic system and its’ importance to the overall health of a person, he mentioned something that stuck in my overworked and fatigued brain:
The body is connected. The parts. The muscles. The nerves. The thoughts. The emotions. They are all connected.
Hmmm. It initially sounded a bit too hokey for me, a bit too New-Agey for my taste. But then when I really sat and thought about it, I realized that in fact, THE BODY IS CONNECTED.
When I pray with thanksgiving and love, my brain is hardwired to feel the joy of the Holy Spirit, and I literally and physically feel like I am walking on air.
When I complain and swear and hem and haw, my brain literally starts to feel dark, and I begin to notice aches and pains manifesting in my stomach, hip, chest, legs, and arms.
THE BODY IS CONNECTED.
I’ve always struggled with being a hypochondriac, thinking every little niggle and wiggle is the start of a sprained leg or broken bone. After seeing Nickelston’s posts and meditating on the internal monologues that go through my brain throughout the day, it’s no wonder that I constantly felt sore and fatigued and BLAH. My brain was turning into a garbage dump. My thoughts were polluting my body, heart, mind, and soul.
So I decided to be more optimistic. To walk towards the light instead of think in the dark. And has it worked? Well, yesterday was a grand test as I could feel frustration and irritation start to boil within my spirit mid-day…and then my right back started to ache, almost like a knee jerk reflex. But then I stopped. I took a breathe. I prayed for God’s peace and thanked Him for a healthy mind. And wouldn’t you know it? I ended the day feeling healthy. Happy. Whole.
So maybe we really are what we think.
Maybe we really are what we feel.
And if so, then I’m going to think and feel love. Peace. Joy. Faithfulness. Goodness. Kindness. Gentleness. Self-control.
And maybe then, when I make “thinking positive” a daily practice even when I feel the pull of the negative mindset trying to take over, my mind will grow stronger, my spirit will be continually renewed, and this body will walk in wholeness and health.