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  • Writer's pictureDallas Shepard

When Neuroscience and our Faith intersect

The Neuroscience of Self Talk
The Neuroscience of Self Talk

In an era where the dialogue between science and spirituality is more vibrant than ever, the intersection of modern neuroscience and our faith offers a groundbreaking perspective on self-improvement and transformation. Harmonized Brain Centers advocates for our 12 Best Brain Practices. Among these, two stand out by emphasizing how our internal self-talk and deep-rooted faith can greatly impact and transform our brain and behavior. This document explores the synchrony between cutting-edge findings in neuroscience and timeless biblical principles, revealing a unified message: the thoughts we nurture and the words we speak to ourselves hold the power to alter our lives. By examining how these two realms—neuroscience's understanding of the brain's plasticity and the Bible's insights into the human soul—complement each other, we unveil a holistic path towards self-transformation and spiritual fulfillment. Through this fusion of science and faith, we discover that changing our behaviors by consciously directing our thoughts and self-dialogue isn't just a theoretical possibility but a practical reality, reinforced by both the evidence of the brain's adaptability and the wisdom encoded in scripture. We'll explore the biblical perspective on transforming our minds, delve into Dr. Shad Helmstettler's method from "What to Say When You Talk to Yourself," and blend these two concepts seamlessly.

Biblical Mindset: Embracing Transformation Through Scripture

The Bible offers profound guidance on the transformation of one's mind, emphasizing the importance of aligning our thoughts with God's will. This divine manual encourages believers to adopt a new perspective that reflects spiritual growth and wisdom. Below we delve into key scriptures that elucidate how to undergo a refreshing change of mind, drawing on the inexhaustible well of God's Word.

Renewing the Mind

Faith and your Brain
Faith and your Brain

Scripture discusses the concept of mental renewal as a transformative journey rooted in one's connection with God. By immersing ourselves in His presence and truth, our thoughts and attitudes can align with His divine will. The paramount commandment in Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV) ("Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself) emphasizes loving the Lord wholeheartedly. Our being comprises a trinity of heart, soul, and mind; disrupting one aspect affects the harmony of the others. The following are select Biblical verses that emphasize the importance of renewing the mind.

Romans 12:2 (NIV):

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

This verse explicitly calls for a stark contrast between worldly patterns and godly transformation. The renewing of the mind is not a one-off event but a continuous journey towards discerning and embracing what is truly valuable in God's sight.

Meditation on Godly Things

Filling one's mind with the things of God is another important step in shaping our perspective according to Biblical precepts.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV):

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Here, Paul exhorts believers to engage in contemplation of noble and righteous themes. Such meditation fosters a positive and holy thought life, which reflects in one's actions and decisions.

Transformation through Reflection

Inviting God into our thought processes allows His Spirit to reshape our minds and, consequently, our lives.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV):

"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

Gazing upon the glory of the Lord through reflective contemplation results in a metamorphosis that echoes the Lord's own glory. It's a progressive change, one that leads to increasingly reflecting God's nature through our lives.

The Book of Psalms, filled with poetic hymns and prayers, provides a rich source for meditation and mind renewal.

Psalm 19:14 (NIV):

"May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

Here the psalmist expresses the desire for his spoken words and innermost reflections to be acceptable to God, highlighting the practice of meditating on things that are pleasing to the Lord.

Psalm 104:34 (NIV):

"May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord."

This verse demonstrates the psalmist's intent for his meditative thoughts to be delightful to God, underscoring the link between joyful contemplation of the Lord and a righteous life.

Psalm 119:15-16 (NIV):

"I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word."

In these lines, we see a commitment to ponder diligently over God’s commands and to take joy in his instructions, promising to adhere unwaveringly to His Word.

Psalm 119:97 (NIV):

"Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long."

The psalmist proclaims his love for God's law, testifying to the value of constant meditation on divine statutes as a means for mental and spiritual enrichment.

These Psalms offer guidance on the importance of renewing our minds through reflection on God's laws and His nature, in line with the transformation prescribed in the New Testament Scriptures.

From the perspective of biblical teachings, renewing one's mind is portrayed as an essential and ongoing process of spiritual growth and transformation. It emphasizes aligning our thoughts and attitudes with God's will through a deep and personal connection with Him. This spiritual renewing process involves rejecting worldly patterns in favor of godly transformation, meditating on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and praiseworthy, and reflecting on God's glory and His Word. The scriptures from both the New and Old Testaments, including Romans 12:2, Philippians 4:8, and various Psalms, highlight the importance of a continuous, reflective engagement with God’s commands and promises. This endeavor not only transforms us to better reflect God's nature but also enriches our daily lives with His wisdom and guidance with a renewed mind.

The Neuroscience of Self Talk

The transformation of one's thinking is a layered process that can significantly impact our life experiences and help determine our success and failures in our work, relationships, health, emotions, maturity, spiritual growth and more. Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D., is a renowned author and pioneer in the field of self-talk and its profound impact on personal development. With a rich background in the neuroscience of behavior and communication, Dr. Helmstetter has dedicated his career to exploring how the conversations we have with ourselves can shape our beliefs, influence our actions, and ultimately dictate the course of our lives. His seminal work, "What to Say When You Talk To Yourself," has been a groundbreaking force, unveiling the power of positive self-talk as a transformative tool for achieving success and fulfillment. Through his insightful research and compelling writing, Dr. Helmstetter empowers individuals to harness the neuroscience-backed potential of their own words to foster a more positive, productive, and rewarding life. Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D., offers a valuable framework for self-evaluation and cognitive change through his "Self-Mangement Sequence". Dr. Helmstetter explains that by the age of 18, we typically encounter around 150,000 instances of negative messages like "you

Self Management Sequence
Self Management Sequence

can't," "you're not good enough," "stop," "you are a failure, and on and on." Each of these encounters contributes to the formation of a neural network that strengthens over time. In contrast, by the age of 18, positive messages such as "you have what it takes," "you are not a failure," "it's just an event," "I love you," and "you are good enough" are heard only about 1,000 times, forming a separate neural network. During times of stress or in a habitual mode, the more dominant network usually prevails. When a neuro network prevails usually it is seen in our results; however, as described below it goes much deeper than what we see.

As we evolve, we shape and reinforce neural networks that form our automatic reactions, impacting our outcomes. This transformation begins with the internal dialogues we engage in, encompassing six key levels. Essentially, to truly alter your results, you must adjust your programming to change your results.

  • Results are the visible manifestation of our efforts. They represent the ultimate product of our conduct, endeavors, actions and behaviors.

  • Behaviors/Actions -The step that most directly controls our success or failure is our behavior/actions -what we do or do not do. How we act, what we do, each moment of each day will determine whether or not we will be successful that moment or that day in anything that we do. The right series of the right actions will always end up making things work better than the wrong series of the wrong actions. In most cases, if you do the right thing, you are going to achieve the right results.

  • Feelings: Each action we take is initially processed through our emotions. Our feelings towards a situation invariably shape our actions and their quality. When we hold positive sentiments, our behaviors reflect this positivity. Conversely, negative feelings impact our behaviors, leading to inferior outcomes. Emotions wield a direct influence on our actions.

  • Attitude & Thinking: Attitudes shape our outlook on life. Some exude positivity, while others dwell in ". In truth , most harbor a mix of both. Our attitude towards something influences our emotions and actions. Thus, our attitudes are pivotal in guiding our outcomes.

  • Belief – Our beliefs shape our attitudes, influence our emotions, guide our behaviors, and ultimately impact our success or failure. The power of belief is such that it can alter our perception of reality. Belief doesn't hinge on actual truth but on our conviction of what is true. This underscores the significant role our beliefs play in shaping our individual realities, regardless of their accuracy.

  • Programming – We believe what we are programed to believe. We hold beliefs that are ingrained from our upbringing. Our conditioning since birth has deeply ingrained much of what we think about ourselves and our perceptions of the world. Regardless of whether this conditioning was accurate or not, it shapes our beliefs. Our beliefs stem from our programming. What we absorb from external sources or tell ourselves triggers a series of cause-and-effect actions that can lead to effective self-management or mismanagement of ourselves, our resources, and our future.

Each level is interconnected, signifying that a change in one can gradually influence the rest, creating a ripple effect that transforms our overall mindset.

  1. Programming creates beliefs

  1. Beliefs create attitudes

  1. Attitudes create feelings

  1. Feelings determine actions

  1. Actions create results

Understanding the influence of our internal dialogue is crucial to harnessing the power of transformative thinking. As we process the world through the lens of biblical truth and the guidance found in "What to Say When You Talk to Yourself," we can reconcile science and scripture in the pursuit of mental and spiritual renewal. This intersection encourages us to take every thought captive and align it with the Word of God, ensuring that our internal conversations lead us towards the life He has planned for us.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV):

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Much like the structured progression outlined by Dr. Helmstetter, the apostle Paul underscores the disciplined approach required for mental transformation. It's through the deliberate intention to subject our thoughts to Christ's lordship that we can achieve the holistic change — ensuring our thoughts, and thus our lives, are in harmony with spiritual truths and divine wisdom.

The six steps for transformative thinking, as outlined by Dr. Shad Helmstetter, can indeed find resonance within the pages of scripture. Although not a direct one-to-one correlation, we can draw parallels that reflect each step's essence:

  • Programming – Romans 12:2 (NIV): "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

  • Belief – Hebrews 11:1 (NIV): "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."

  • Attitude – Philippians 4:8 (NIV): "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

  • Thinking – Proverbs 23:7 (KJV): "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee."

  • Feelings/Goals/Strategy – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV): "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

  • Behavior/Actions – James 2:17 (NIV): "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

  • Results – Galatians 6:9 (NIV): "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Neuroscience and our Faith

These scriptures offer a biblical framework that supports the stages of cognitive and spiritual transformation, highlighted in Dr. Helmstetter's Self Management Sequence and demonstrate the incredible synergy between the pursuit of personal growth and scriptural wisdom.

The pathways to cognitive and spiritual transformation, as outlined in the above discussion, emphasize the powerful interplay between faith, positive self-talk, neuro science and scripture. At Harmonized Brain Centers, we firmly believe in the capacity to change one's brain by integrating these elements that are included in our 12 Best Brain Practices. This unique combination not only aligns with scriptural wisdom but also incorporates scientifically backed strategies to renew the mind. By conscientiously applying these principles, individuals can foster a mindset conducive to profound personal growth, spiritual maturity, and enhanced mental health. Our approach underscores the importance of a holistic strategy that addresses the mind, body and spirit, ensuring that every step towards change is both biblically sound and neurologically beneficial.

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