Did you know that there’s an actual science that explains how you form patterns and habits—good or bad—in your life?
It’s called neuroplasticity. This is the scientific term for what your brain does to form a habit. It could be a habit of watching Netflix everyday to unwind or the habit of brushing your teeth before you have coffee. It could also be a habit of apathy, silence or turning a blind eye to injustice.
Whether it’s superficial or super-significant, the repetition forms a pathway in your brain. Over time, the same thought or habit happens without you “thinking about it.” Your brain is making you more efficient. This means you can actually do or think about something so often that your brain decides to simplify things and create a direct route to the corresponding action.
This is great for things like exercising, disciplined work practices, and self-care rituals. But not great when it comes to establishing pathways that result in patterns of laziness, indifference or bias.
This moment is giving us all a reason to reconsider how we think and act. We are so thankful that amidst the tragedy, you are bravely asking hard questions and examining your own life to see how YOU CAN be the change this world needs… so you can change the pathways in your brain to no longer be a part of the problem.
We know that as you bring change to your life, your life will change others. We have some ideas about how to remove those habits that have formed in your brain, causing you to be blinded or numb to those in pain around you. Consider this a starting point to new thoughts and new pathways—five questions to fire up change in you so you can be the change to others.
Take a minute to take stock of your self talk.
-What do you hear?
-What are you building faith for?
-Are you speaking words that bring life or words that deplete life?
To boost your faith, begin to speak in ways that cultivate life. Let your words speak the best you can of others. Begin to raise your expectations of others by changing what you say about who they are. By speaking and thinking positively or others, regardless of your differences, you build bridges to peaceful and fruitful interactions. And those interactions can lead to meaningful connections and friendships.
There’s power in complaining, but it’s not the kind of power that creates forward movement. In fact, just the opposite is true. When you complain, your words keep you stuck in the situation, making it easier for unhealthy thoughts to make it impossible to hear good things about your current situation.
Right now, we know it can be hard to find words to process what’s happening. There are days of frustration. Days when complaining is hard to stop! We get it. We have these too. But if we’re going to be a part of the change, we need to use our words differently. They need to make a difference.
Words grounded in understanding are words that make a difference. They’re a powerful form of action. When you listen to the voices of people who speak from conviction and understanding themselves, you grow in what you know. We all need more understanding right now, so here are some messages and conversations that have expanded our perspective.
Conflict and hard issues are uncomfortable for most people. But when issues and conflict stay unresolved, things get messy. We’re seeing this first-hand in our nation.
No matter how complicated this or any issue may seem to be, when you choose to practice empathy as action, you position yourself and others for steps that lead to constructive conversations and to the hope of understanding. There are three things you can do to create space for an empathic, constructive conversation with people you know AND with people you don’t:
This moment is teaching us a lot about what it means to be a real friend. It’s so much more than just spending time together over coffee or taking a walk together with the kids. Being a real friend is being present when the bottom falls out. Standing in solidarity and maybe even protesting in peace when righteous anger rises up. Speaking up for what is just and true and good. Standing in faith when fear is strong.
Since the people closest to you have a direct impact on you and your decisions, you need to know who is really in it with you.
If you say you’re close to someone, but she isn’t willing to be on the front lines with you (regardless of the battle), it’s time to set a new boundary (Psalm 55:20 TPT). This may be someone who has different values or someone whose personal convictions and habits aren’t consistent with your goals. Depending on the situation, you may need to limit time in their company or even step away from the relationship altogether. Expect friction. It’s a normal part of the process and necessary for forward movement.
Your relationships are the foundation for how you engage the world. If you have strong and healthy relationships, with strong and healthy people, you’re more likely to process life with hope.
But for those who don’t feel understood, seen or heard, hope is hard to come by. And when hope is deferred time and time again, a person can grow weary, bitter and even sick of life (Prov. 13:12 TPT).
You can help break the despair and hopelessness in someone else’s life by being a minister of hope. There are two simple steps you can take to begin building bridges of hope and connection today:
These five questions are a starting point for creating the kind of change we need right now. Yes, there’s lots more to do. But lasting change happens one step at a time.
And lasting change is always an inside-job, first.
Knowing where you are is the starting point for forming new pathways that create meaningful action.
Be bold. Ask questions. Take steps.
YOU CAN be the change.