How blessed we are to have friends who lift us up, who speak truth to us, who listen, give advice, encouragement and their constant prayers. This is richness; this is true treasure to have such wonderful women in your life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stopping The "What if?" Spin Cycle In Our Heads

Have you girls ever read about the benefits of meditating on the wisdom, guidance, peace, joy, healing to our hearts, minds and bodies and thought "IF ONLY!"?  I have; but, "I'm just not good at meditating" was my answer every time.  When I attempt to meditate on the Word, my mind tends to wander far and wide.  One day I was reading in my devotions once again about the great benefits of meditating on Scripture, so I talked with the Lord and told Him how sorry I was about my sub par meditating skills and that I would sure love it if He would send some of that ability down into this heart and mind of know...just plunk that skill down in my brain.  Funny thing...and I DO think the Lord loves to be funny the next thought that came into my mind was a "what if" thought that had been going through my brain the night before.  "See, Lord!!??  See what I mean??  I can't even talk to You about meditating without my mind flailing off onto something else!!"  AND THEN IT HIT ME!!  My "What if" cyclical thinking IS meditating!!  In fact, I realized that day I was a really GOOD meditator.  I was just meditating on the wrong thing! 
What if??  Two of the most terrifying words in any language, having the power to light a flame of fear that can ignite a wildfire of panic-stricken anxiety that refuses to be quenched by even a torrential rain of tears. 


What if?

In Angie Smith's book, What Women Fear, her chapter, "Sitting by the Well~Fear of 'What If...'" addresses the two kinds of "What ifs" that plague us...the "what if" of the unknown future and the "what if" of a regretful past.  Angie says it like this: "The first idea is that something might happen in the future, and the second is the fear we made a poor decision in the past and life could have resulted differently." 
The constant whirling of the SAME thought in our heads about what could happen or what did happen, can spin out of control.  Beth Moore calls it a mind "stuck on the spin cycle."  

So then the question do we get out of this relentless hamster wheel of thinking?? (I found this picture and I HAD to include it!)We don't want to read another good book about fear and anxiety.  We want to be mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy.  Let's think on this together.

Something I always find fascinating is God's truth proven out in science.  There are numerous studies out on how our brains work, and I could spout words like "basal ganglia," "dorsalateral striatum" and "dorsalmedial striatum" like I know what I am talking about:), but I don't even know how to pronounce them!  This is basically what scientist in their studies have found over and over:  Our brains LOVE habits (and they have the rat studies to prove it :) because once we have a habit in place, good or bad, we don't have to think much anymore.  It can take a rest.  A habit is much like a well worn track in our brain. A thought gets on the track and BOOM! it is at the end without much effort in between.  Habits are the freeways of the brain.  To break a bad habit and/or create a new one takes thought..a lot of it.  I read an article, "This is Your Brain on Habits," by UCLA psych professor and researcher, Emily vonSonnenberg,  that gives five steps to break a bad habit and cement into your brain a new one. Here are her steps (In my own non-psych words) with the Lord's truth right beneath:  

1. Identify a positive habit and behavior you would like to adopt.
  Philippians 4:8

2.  Identify the bad habit you want to break. 
  2 Corinthians 10:3-4

3.  Recognize when you are beginning to head into that bad habit.  
 2 Corinthians 10:5

4.  Instead of acting on the impulse to "go there," refocus.  Consciously redirect your thoughts and actions to the new habit you want to form.  

2 Corinthians 10:5 AND Philippians 4:8


5.  Substitute the new behaviors of the new habit for the bad behaviors of the old habit.  

Romans 12:2 

Repeat steps 4 and 5 over and over.   

John 8:31-32

Basically, these scientists have found the secret that has really been no secret at all.  The Maker of all minds in the universe says we have to stop thinking and behaving the old way and start thinking and behaving the new way and do it over and over and over and over and over...until our habit turns into meditation and our meditation into abiding and our abiding into our freedom. 

So the "what ifs" from the past...capture them, lay them before the Lord and allow them to be bathed in the truth...that the Lord turns our ashes into beauty  (Isaiah 61:1-3) and redeems...makes good everything we hand over to Him (Romans 8:28).

And the "what ifs" of the future...capture them, lay them before the Lord and allow them to be bathed in the truth...that the Lord is in control (Proverbs 19:21) and His plan for us is good (Jeremiah 29:11).

He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8 and Revelation 22:13).  Beth Moore said once that the Lord is as present in your past, as He is right at this moment in your present, as He is in your future.  You can ask Him to pour healing balm on those past regrets, hurts and pains because He is present in them.  Time holds no constraints on Him!  

We want freedom from the fear of the "what ifs" in life...let the Truth...let the Word...let the Lord God heal us!!!

Let's talk about how to find freedom from our bad thought patterns and encourage each other to the new.  What did you get out of this week's chapter?  Please leave a post here on the blog or on the DV Women's Ministry Facebook page.  Simply ask to join our page to join in on the conversation.  I truly want to hear what you have to say.

Love you, sweet sisters of mine!!!!!


PS  If you want to read a little more on meditating on God's Word, here is a post from some years ago:  It's a Cow Day!!


  1. I've found freedom from destructive "what ifs" by IMMEDIATELY turning to God through prayer. To keep my mind from wandering or being distracted I journal my prayers. This focuses me to write my thoughts out plus it's awesome to go back to see how God worked in that situation. Pertaining to subject of habits, I think it's important to note that during that time you're making a habit, you will slip and mess up, and that's ok, need to get back up, brush yourself off, get back on track. As women we are so hard on ourselves and we need to ask God to help us change. He wants us to have healthy thoughts, motives and habits. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus' power rather than our inadequacies. God is the only one who can help.

    1. Yes, indeed, Dawn! It is in the "capturing our thoughts" that it put s stop to the "What if" cycle running in our heads. I am glad you mentioned that we need to not expect perfection...we will slip back into old ways...after all those ruts are DEEP, but it is in the getting back on track that will change the "route" in our hearts and minds:) It surely is in the abiding in the Lord that we will find our healing!! Thank you for your comment!!!

  2. Hello Ladies,
    I am in need of a little help. I have struggled with panic attacks over the last maybe year and I have found it to be healthy related (diet) more then anything. It's also very hormonal (I can tell when they're going to start by the monthly clock). But I have always struggled with death. It has been a trigger for me for years now. Tomorrow my husband and I will be euthanizing our two old dogs. The monthly calendar isn't on the right week to be doing this, but it's time. I'm struggling with it. I want peace in knowing these earthly bodies are just that...earthly bodies and that there is more and better yet to come. Some days I am at peace about death and other days I'm a mess of anxiety and panic about it. This is exactly why I am reading this book.

  3. You are in good company! Most of us on this blog have struggled with anxiety, depression and all kinds of fears...including death. I have a wonderful friend, Susi, who will be my guest writer for the chapter on "fear of death". I know she will be an awesome help to all who struggle with this fear specifically. But for right now let me say this...I truly believe that your two sweet dogs will be in heaven with you someday. I know there is a lot of controversy on this subject...the crazy, ridiculous things we Christians like to argue about...what a waste of time...however, I digress:). The thought is that they have no soul (They obviously have not had a dog like my Ben around) and that God is silent on the subject. I don't think God gave instructions to animals because He didn't have to...unlike us...we need all the instruction we can get. The Word says God "put eternity in our hearts" Ecclesiastes 3:11. That "knowing" tells us that death is wrong, so it is perfectly normal for us to have a repellent feeling toward death. What we have to wrap our minds around is that this death, through Christ, was also redeemed. It was redeemed through is own VICTORIOUS death. He smashed it to smithereens with the power of His life as He rose again. Now death has become our birth into eternal life! If you think about it, death is very much like birth...some births are easy, relatively painless and quick, while others are long, difficult and painful...but the result is a beautiful new life:). I baby is born from a dark place into a room full of blazing lights. And if a baby could talk, it would probably tell you, "I am nice and comfortable in here...perfectly content...I don't want to be born...whatever that is!!!" Much like death if your think about it! There is more to say on this subject, but I will save that for Susi! Love you!!!!


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