I loved the show What Not to Wear, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly would ambush an unwitting fashion offender, and in one week the transgressor's appearance was transformed. This was much more than a makeover program, it was a week-long therapy session condensed into an hour, where their fashion faux pas was simply an expression of faulty thinking.
The process was always emotional, sometimes painful, and occasionally unsuccessful. This middle-aged woman wasn't trapped in her taffeta princess dress, she was trapped in her head. New clothes are nice, but authentic transformation requires refashioning our thinking, and this type of makeover comes from the inside out.
Change is possible, but why is it so hard? In According to Subconscious Mind Power Explained, Brian Tracy says, "Your subconscious mind is an unquestioning servant that works day and night to make your behavior fit a pattern consistent with your emotionalized thoughts, hopes, and desires. Your subconscious mind grows either flowers or weeds in the garden of your life, whichever you plant by mental equivalents you create.” He continues to say, “All your habits of thinking and acting are stored in your subconscious mind. It has memorized all your comfort zones and it works to keep you in them. Your subconscious mind causes you to feel emotionally and physically uncomfortable whenever you attempt to do anything new or different or to change any of your established patterns of behavior.”
Real change requires challenging decades of subconscious thinking and embracing the uncomfortable. Here are three steps to refashion your thinking and change your life:
1. Take Inventory of Your Mental Closet
The devil doesn’t want us aware of our thinking. He hides in the busyness of our lives. We drop off the kids, run to work, eat at our desk, and forget to pee. The busyness of life wreaks havoc on purposeful thinking. Our distractions are the perfect cover for him to bombard our minds with thoughts that go against the Word of God.
If we don't analyze our negative thoughts they will grow, and a problematic way of life will manifest. Neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf asserts, "Consciously controlling your thought life means not letting thoughts rampage through your mind. It means learning to engage interactively with every single thought that you have, and to analyze it before you decide either to accept or reject it." Dig into your mental closet and think about what you are thinking about.
2. Dump Your Duddy Thoughts
What we believe about ourselves drives our behavior. Is the pain of your past hindering your future? Do you feel too damaged to do any good? Are your mistakes too plenty for you to have any credibility? Well, it's time to dump your mustard stained sweatpants type thinking and step onto God's runway.
In Leading at a Higher Level, Ken Blanchard says, "An assumed constraint is a belief, based on past experience, that limits current and future experiences," and he advises us to challenge our assumed constraints.
He gives an example of a baby elephant being trained for the circus. The elephant is staked with a heavy chain. The baby tugs, but he can't get free and gives up. The now six-ton elephant has plenty of strength to break the chain and trample everything in sight, but the passive pachyderm doesn't even try. "His inability to move beyond the length of the chain isn't real; it's an assumed constraint."
Assumed constraints or "limiting beliefs" reveal themselves in negative internal dialogue, excuses, and blaming statements like, "I will never be free of this addiction." "I can never forgive what he did." "It's not my fault, I come from a dysfunctional family." The bondage of these faulty statements limits our future. The enemy of our soul wants us to focus on the negative, so God's perfectly designed plan for our life goes unfulfilled.
Have you tugged and pulled like the little elephant, only to stop trying, overwhelmed with frustration? Listen. The still small voice of the Spirit is tugging at your heart. God is calling you to freedom. The chains that have you bound can be broken.
3. Begin Your Mental Make-Over
A beauty makeover is a radical transformation in someone's appearance. A mental makeover is a radical change in how we think. We are in a battle between good and evil, a never-ending assault that intends to form, shape, and mold us into the likeness of our lost and dying world. We have one way to escape the natural evolution of becoming like the world:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Romans 12: 2 KJV
If we choose to think like God, by the renewing of our mind, our lives are transformed. We can change from depressed to joyful, from fat to fit, and from broke to prosperous.
In Glory Days, Max Lucado says, "The key to spiritual growth isn’t increased church attendance or involvement in spiritual activities. People don't grow in Christ because they are busy at church. They grow in Christ when they read and trust their Bibles."
Doing "good" things isn't a replacement for "growth" things, and we cannot discern spiritual truth with a carnal mind:
For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him? But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16
Our spiritual sensitivity increases when we get to know God (how He thinks), and we learn His Word. We gain wisdom, taught by direct revelation through the Holy Spirit, and our thinking transforms. Our thinking has been held captive by the world's system. To break free, we must choose sides: God or the world. Faith or fear. Freedom is possible.
Refashion your thinking with a Mental Makeover and you will know … What Not to Think.
Crystal Van Kempen-McClanahan, is one- half of the podcast Soul Gym Sisters, and co-author of Mind Moxie: How to Help You Master What's Mastering You. She spent years as an educator, a softball/volleyball coach, and school leader. She has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and received the John Maxwell Leadership Award in Education. Because leadership is "influence," Crystal is passionate about helping people increase their "influential capacity" by leading their life, loving their life, and lavishing it on others. Check out her YouTube channel and online course "5 Steps to Go From Flabby to Fit Without Stepping Foot in the Gym,"