True or false…
- One dog year equals seven human years.
- Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
- We only use 10% of our brains.
All of these commonly upheld statements are false. (Dogs actually age the equivalent of 15 years in their first twelve months, the Empire State building gets hit by lightning about 100 times a year and while we don’t use all the parts of our brain at the same time, we do use our entire brain in the course of a day.)
So if none of these statements are true why do so many people believe them?
It turns out we’re not as rational as we’d like to believe. According to an article from Fast Company, research has shown humans think this is the process we use to evaluate what we hear…
- We hear something.
- We think about it and determine whether it is true or false.
- We form our belief.
But, actually, the process in our brains works like this…
- We hear something.
- We believe it to be true.
- Later (and only if we have time or the desire) we think about it to determine whether it’s really true or false.
Here’s what we all need to know: Time passes (sometimes minutes, sometimes years) between when we hear something and when we actually decide if it’s true or not. In that interval our minds are repeating what we’ve heard as if it were true.
When we think any thought repeatedly it actually forms a new neural pathway in our minds. Think of this as a road being built. Once that road is built, our mind automatically takes it. Our minds are efficient, which mostly serves us well. But in this case, our thoughts can send us in the wrong direction over and over again.
Perhaps where this trips us up most is what we believe about ourselves. As kids we may hear something like, “You’re not smart” or “You’ll never amount to anything.” Our mind accepts what we hear as true and by the time we’re old enough to question it that lie has become a brain super highway.
To counteract our tendency to believe what isn’t true here are two specific strategies:
First, when a lie from the past pops up automatically take time to pause and ask, “Is that really true?” If it’s not ask, “What actually is?” For example, the lie “You can’t do anything right” is replaced by the truth, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Php. 4:13).
Note: it takes several weeks to abandon an old neural road in brains and create a new one. During this time the truth will not feel true. That’s totally normal and just part of the process.
Second, when you hear a new lie pause right then to evaluate it. If your spouse, coworker or friend makes a discouraging comment, pause and ask, “Is what I’m hearing really what this person is saying?” Even if they do actually mean it (most times they don’t), do the same as what’s above and remember what’s ultimately true, which is what God says about you. In other words, don’t start construction on that road so the lie can’t get anywhere.
We all have a signature lie that we’ve accepted as true. In this week’s More than Small Talk episode Suzie, Jennifer and I share three of ours and the truth that’s setting us free…
There’s something wrong with me (me)
I’m not smart enough (Jennifer)
I’m inadequate (Suzie)
Can you relate?
We can’t control what we hear but we can control what we receive and how we respond. Is that easy? Nope. Does it feel right? Not at first. But it is life-changing and possible, especially now that you know you can use your entire brain to do it.
Cheering You On,
Want to start defeating lies and believing truth now? Get What’s True About You: Life-Changing Reminders of Who God Says You Are.