Podcast: There is no love without respect


Tova discusses how thoughts and emotions can also be habitual, and how we can change those to be positive.


Host: Tova Kreps, LCSW
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01:47                                     Let's first talk about what a habit is, move into habits of the mind and I've already emotions how they get formed and then how to get past them or how to make them positive instead of negative. First of all, just to remind you I have, it is something you do often, regularly without conscious thinking anymore. A habit is like autopilot for the brain. It's an entrenched brain synapse pathway to be more specifically think of it like water that's running across a field and as the water keeps landing, the rain keeps coming down. It starts to form pools and as it forms pools, it starts moving together and forming pathways and light of those pathways. If they're run, the water runs the same way over and over again. It creates a trench and it creates eventually a river. And what happens is that over time, the more often that water runs down that same pathway, the more unlikely it is that water's going to go any other way.

02:46                                     And that's the way it is in your brain. Think of a habit as a synapse pathway where the water that is running down that same way and the more you do it in, the more entrenched it gets, the more it just goes there automatically. Your brain is a smart thing. It is trying to help you simplify your life by making consistent pathways. So you know all you have to think about how to walk. You can think about who you're talking to while you're taking a walk, cause you already learned how to walk. That's an automatic thing. So our brain is trying to help us by making habits out of things we do over and over again. The problem is what if the habits a bad one and how do you create new ones? How do you make that water jump the trench and go a new way?

03:25                                     All right, that's what we're talking about. But today we're going to apply all of these principles about habits to mental habits and emotional habits. So let's start with that. What is a mental habit and who knew that your thoughts could be habitual, but they can be. Think about the things you say to yourself on a regular basis. Do you say negative things to yourself like I'm a loser or do you say positive things like I'll do better next time? Do you say things like, nothing ever works for me or things like I'm lucky or I'm a fast learner. Maybe you don't just talk to yourself about yourself. But you also talk to yourself about other people. This hits that our prejudices and our habitual assumptions about others. We could make assumptions about others by how they look or how they dress or just anything about them that we have created a habit on our mind that people like that look like this act like that.

04:19                                     We make these assumptions of people around us. So maybe you think to yourself about other people, things I people are annoying people or aggressive. Maybe you say things like that about certain types of people, sizes, shapes, colors, ethnicities, religion. What are your mental habits? A mental habit is a thought that you say to yourself automatically. Again, without even thinking, although I guess you are thinking, but it's an automatic thought. Okay. And emotional habit is similar, but it is actually a habitual emotional reaction to a certain thing. So if someone criticizes you, do you automatically attack Mack? Do you defend yourself or do you automatically receive this new information and say, I can learn from this. Tell me what you're saying for me so I can be better. When someone's aggressive to you, do you automatically emotionally withdraw? Do you fight back and get angry? Do you cry?

05:16                                     If someone hurts you? Do you automatically get even? Do you automatically express yourself or give them a second thought and see about where did this come from? So these are emotional habits and emotional habits can also be related to things that are accused like triggers in our lives. So certain smells can make us have feelings. Certain sounds, certain emotions of others, certain behaviors of others. Certain locations can make us feel peaceful or happy or angry or upset or nervous or afraid. All of these can become emotional habits. So the question is how do we make our minds and our emotions have positive habits or the first automatic thing that happens in our thoughts and in our emotions or what we wish they were instead of something negative. All right, today, this is what we're going to talk about. We're gonna move from here into how do we change our negative habits to positive?

06:12                                     How did we get these in the first place? Here at wellspring. We always want to look at scripture and test our thoughts, our ideas to see if they are consistent with what scripture says. And usually it works the other way around. Scripture teaches us and then we test it with science and low and behold, it proves itself to be true. We test it in real life and practical applications in. There we go. Scripture always proves itself to be true because it is true. But let's first take a look at what scripture has to say about habits of the mind, the mind, and the emotion. Scripture really uses the word hearts and minds. So first of all, scripture tells us that God knows our hearts and our minds. Jeremiah 1710 says, I the Lord, search the heart and examine the mind to reward each according to their conduct according to what their deeds deserve.

07:05                                     So God himself searches our hearts. That's our emotions. And he examines our minds what we think, and he's attuning to them. He's thinking about them. He's going to respond to them. Revelations two 23 says, then all the churches will know that I God am he who searches hearts and minds. So again, scripture tells us that God knows our hearts and he knows our mind. So you might as well not hide from him all those negative habits of your heart and mind. He already knows them. So let's just start with that as a basic second. Scripture tells us that our hearts and our minds matter because our hearts are what produced our behaviors. Matthew 1233 to 35 make a tree good and its fruit will be good or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

07:54                                     You Brood of vipers are snakes. How can you who are evil say anything good for the mouth speaks what? The heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him. And an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. God is talking about our hearts here and he says that our hearts matter because out of our hearts flow our behaviors. And our actions. And we can't be anything other than coming from with what's in our heart. Hebrews four 12 tells us for the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and spirit of joints and of Miram and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. So our hearts matter to God because out of our hearts flow who we are and how we act.

08:46                                     Third, scripture tells us that we need to attend to our hearts and minds that they matter. Proverbs four 23 which happens to be the verse for Wellspring. Counseling says above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Notice this word guard we've got to pay attention to. We've got to do some of that. We've got to protect our hearts. In Deuteronomy 1118 says, fix these words of mine. God's speaking in your hearts and minds. Tie them as symbols on your hands. Bind them on your foreheads. So again, scripture tells us that we need to be attending to guarding, addressing, paying attention to what's in our hearts and in our minds. That's in our emotions and in our thoughts. Scripture also tells us that God himself will help us to attend to our hearts and minds. First of all, God says he will even put his word into our minds for us.

09:39                                     He's going to help us out. He knows this is hard work for us. Jeremiah 31 33 tells us that God says, I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people, so God's going to help us with it. It tells us again, and he was four 12 which I just read, that God's word itself will judge the thoughts and attitudes of our heart and that God's word is going to interact with our minds and in our heart for our sake. He, God uses his words to help us attend to our hearts and minds so that we can please him with those. John 1426 tells us that the Holy Spirit himself will teach us all things and will remind us of all things he said to us. So the Holy Spirit is going to help us.

10:23                                     The word of God is going to help us. God himself is going to put these things in our hearts and mind, but we need to be attending to them. Last and most importantly, we know that Jesus commands us to love God with all our hearts and the all our minds. It's the greatest commandment. It fulfills all the laws. Mark 1230 love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, all your strength. So God's going to help us. It's important what we think and what we feel is important. He's going to help us and he's asking us to attend to it so we can love him with all of our emotions and all of our thoughts. All right. On that note, we're going to take a quick break. I'll be right back after the break. We'll finish up with habits of the heart and mind how we form these habits.

11:10                                     And how we can work to change them. Welcome back to wellspring on the air. And this is Tova Kreps with wellspring counseling. And today we're talking about habits of the heart and mind if you're just joining our show, no, that this is the last in a series about habits where we talked about habits of fitness, habits of spiritual disciplines, habits of nutrition. And now we're talking about habits of the heart and mind. And we've just seen from scripture that God cares about our hearts and minds. He cares what our emotions are, he cares what our thoughts are and we better attend to them so that we can create good habits instead of negative. So this last part of our show, we're in a talk about how do we develop habits, which is an automatic way of thinking or an automatic way of feeling. How do we develop these habits of the mind?

11:53                                     So first of all, habits are formed in our brain through association. So I'd like you to think about this again with a water analogy. Think about water molecules, attracting other water molecules. Science, they call us cohesion. So they attract together. Well, that's the way you're seeing maps are they're firing and they're making connections from one snaps to another. Trying to help your body respond, your heart respond. Every piece of you respond to your life so that you can have a good life. So you can survive all these things your brain is working at. So when it's working at, we call this and we put these connections in our brains together. We call this if it's fired together, it's wired together. I didn't come up with that phrase, but it's a great one. If a sinaps in your brain is fired together along with another sin apps, those things become fused together that like water molecules attracting each other, they get connected.

12:44                                     So first of all, mental habits are formed through association. So if you associate the smell of apple pie with being loved by your grandmother, you will have those things fired and wired together. So when we think of mental habits, if you have experiences that are negative, you may forever assume that that will be repeated in the future and you may automatically think everything in the future will be as it was in the past because you fired and wired those thoughts together. So mental habits are formed through one through association on this thought. I want you to think about your early childhood. What mental habits, what thoughts became habits for you because of your early childhood? What experiences did you associate together? Things you're afraid of that got connected. So maybe that bit by a dog or like my case, my sister got bit by a dog, so I had a fear of big dogs.

13:44                                     I have an association of that together and show my emotion. My feeling of fear and dogs is fused together, but we can have emotions that are automatic because they've been fused together through association and we can have thoughts that are automatic. It can be negative thoughts or positive thoughts. Some of this is through association, through experience, but it's also taught to us. So again, go back to your early childhood and ask yourself, what thoughts do you have that your parents actually taught you? Now they may have done it proactively by saying to you, work hard and it'll pay off or you're smart or you're beautiful, or you can do it. Or maybe some negative teaching where they maybe said, you always get it wrong or you're always late, or how come you can't get it right? Or how come you're not like so? And so?

14:33                                     Either way, you could have been actually taught some of the thoughts that you have directly or indirectly. Third, from your childhood. Again, mental habits are learned and developed. Emotional habits or learning developed through repetition. So maybe you don't was only said you once, but if you had something over and over, it becomes a habit in your mind. So let's say your mother was always afraid of something. Stranger danger or your father always, always was angry over something by being repeated over and over, you create again, associations, you're taught things, you experience, things that are hooked together and then they become habits. So the hard work for you is to figure out what are your mental habits and what are your emotional habits. And the place to start is to figure out how they were formed. And the place to start with that is often in your early childhood.

15:28                                     Doesn't mean you can't learn these things later. It means that you can get new habits that you create later in life, but you might as well start with the early ones are the most profound. So habits can be formed through association, through teaching, through repetition. I want to comment on repetition here. You know, somebody may have said something negative to you once early in your childhood. Maybe you had some mean kid in school who called you ugly or something. Maybe you had something said to you that was particularly hurtful. We can repeat that negative statement by repeating it to ourself in our own negative self talk. Negative self talk is one of the most profound habits of thought that we have where we speak to ourselves. And often we repeat negative voices in our heads of what we heard when we were younger, from somewhere from someone or in our deldot, but somebody that often we take these negative statements, Satan beats his up with those.

16:20                                     He tells him he's the accuser. He says, yeah, you know how So-and-so said this about you. It must be true. And so we then tell it to ourselves over and over again these negative cognitions that we tell ourselves, I'm worthless. I'm no good. I can't get it right. I'll never learn all these things if we say these things to ourselves over and over, we create profound synapse pathways, habits in our brain just through the reputation of that. So let's see if we can stop repeating to ourselves those negative things and instead repeat to ourselves positive things that God tells us about us ourselves. It's going to take some work to repeat it over and over again. A fourth way a mental habit is learned is through trauma. And I just have to mention this, we have a bunch of trauma experts at wellspring counseling and so I can't help myself at meant in this.

17:07                                     So if you think about water being formed slowly over time and repetition and creating a a pathway in a river trauma is more like a flood. It's like this huge flood of water comes through and it creates a brand new pathway all in one day. And sometimes we have negative cognitions, we have emotional habits that are formed from one time, huge traumatic events in our lives. We make such a strong association that this que relates to this feeling, this sound relates to this bad feeling or this negative thought about myself or the other people or the world or God himself. And we create permanent habitual ways of thinking just from that one traumatic event. Again, that's like a flood. And then lastly and how are habits formed? They're formed through association teaching, repeating trauma. And then lastly through expectations. If you expect something you are going to look for that.

18:03                                     And then what happens is it gets repeated and therefore the habit gets more deeply entrenched and that's because our brains are wired to always be looking to help us meet our goals. If your goal is survival, then it's going to help you meet. If your goal is to get food or to have intimacy with someone, or your goal is to achieve your greatest desires or comfort or relaxation or relief from pain, whatever those goals are, your brain is going to send. Dopamine is a chemical that actually tells you do that. Do that, take that action because you're going to get what you want out of that action. So the problem with that is we can believe the wrong thing. This will meet my need for feeling loved. This will meet my need for f for wanting to achieve. This will meet my need for intimacy.

18:47                                     We can be wrong about what we believe, but if we expect that those things will meet our needs, we are going to move toward those with actions and then we will create an expectation and then we'll repeat the behavior until these things become a habits. So again, looking at the emotional and at the mental, the thoughts that we have that are habits. If we expect something to happen, then that's what we're going to look for. So I want to apply this a little bit. Practically. The principle here is you see what you already believe. Let me say it again. You see which you already believe. So if you believe that people are good, then you're going to see that everywhere. Here's like, oh, look how good that person was when they helped that person across the street and look how kind they were. And you're going to watch the news and you're going to see the people are good.

19:37                                     Believe it or not. You can see that that's hard these days. You're gonna look for that. And because you already expecting it, you're gonna move toward the things that meet your needs. And you're going to only see what you already believe. Research has tons of research on this that we literally don't notice what we don't think is true and what we think is true. We see it everywhere. So if you believe your negative self talk, you're gonna see it everywhere. See, so-and-so thinks that to see so-and-so doesn't like me. See, so-and-so reinforces this because you already expect to see that. And that's all you notice and you don't notice all the good things. If you have negative emotional associations, that's what you're going to look for and that's what you're going to see. So our sinaps in our habits are formed through reinforcement, through our expectations, because we only see what we already believe.

20:26                                     All right, that's part one of this, how our habits are formed. So let's get into some solutions. Everybody ready for some solutions? How do we change our habits? First of all, it's not very easy, is matter of fact. It's almost impossible to just stop and old habits. All you can do is extinguish it by not using it. To think of why at river going down that pathway, you can't really rid of the river bed. You can just channel the water in a new direction and it won't be used. And over time, that river battle kind of, you know, disintegrate. But that's the way it is with bad habits. When you focus on stopping and negative habits, you actually are still focusing on it and more likely to repeat it. Now you can get to where you catch yourself that you are going down that river bed that you are on that pathway.

21:10                                     You can catch yourself, but then you have to choose to create a new pathway. So the first step in forming new pathways and new habits and creating them is to analyze your old ones. You just going to have to spend some energy figuring out where you learned that truth, how you got there, and what those truths are. If you'd like a little help with that on our website, wellspring, miami.org we're going to have some handouts there for you where you can make a checklist of all your negative thoughts and maybe some of your negative emotions and then go look at that list and figure out, wow, who taught me that? Where did I experience that? How did I repeat that to myself? Was that a trauma event or was that just my own expectations and that's all I see. You have to figure out how you got that mental habit.

21:53                                     In order to change it, he needed to expose those lies for what they are. You need to study and research and interview people and life and everything around you to find out is your belief true? Is your emotional response healthy, positive what you want it to be? You need to read the Bible and see what the Bible has to say about what you believe and what you feel. You need to rewrite your lies into truth and this is just a cognitive exercise of analyzing how you got to where you are. Where are you, what do you believe in, what would you rather believe based on what you research and study through scripture and in other ways, maybe with help of a counselor, maybe through journaling all the other ways. What is that new truth? You want to cling to the new belief, the new automatic thought you want to say, and then you need to secondly, not only analyze it, you need to start focusing on the truth.

22:48                                     That means you've got to put that new, you want to create a new pathway. You got to put that new truth in front of you all the time. Just like the Bible says, put it everywhere on your foreheads, on your doorposts. When you wise, when you lie down. So for you, what does that mean? I don't know. You need post, its on your dashboard. You need to write it down in an affirmation. Say it to yourself on your recorder, on your phone and play it back to yourself 10 times a day. Put it somewhere, write it somewhere. You got to think about it. You need to memorize your new statements. You need to read them again. If you need help on some positive things by herself, read who I am in Christ. It's on our website. We've got that hand out there for you. We've got some links to some scriptural databases of things God says about us and that you can meditate on to see what's true.

23:37                                     So you're going to have to put some effort to create a new pathway. You're gonna have to say it to yourself over and over again in writing it visually. By the way, I want to talk about visualizing things. I want you to take your affirmation, your new statements, your true statements, and I want you to sit still on picture it in your mind. What does it look like if you want to say to yourself, I'm a success or I can succeed would be a better one. Can you picture yourself succeeding? What does that look like? Can you see yourself succeeding? Can you see yourself being healthy? Can you picture yourself being kind and loving? Spending time in the word, being gracious with your family, being patient, not boiling over with anger with an instant negative emotional response. Can you see yourself emotionally responding with courage to a time of fear?

24:29                                     Can you see yourself emotionally responding with patients to frustrations? All of these things. You have to picture yourself doing it. If you cannot see it, you cannot do it, so you need to write it. You need to read it, you need to study it and you need to visualize it. Make a piece of art for it. Sit down. You don't have to be an artist. Just draw it. Draw yourself doing that. Make it sensory. The more sensory you make it and the more you repeat it, the more likely you are to be able to do it. All right. Our third step is practice the truths. Practice, practice, practice. All right. Get your affirmations down. Visualize the truth on this. I want you to know when you start practicing now that you'll have some resistance. Part of you is going to resist on the inside. People on the outside of no resist are not going to lie.

25:17                                     They don't like it. If you change, it's like go back to the way you were. So plan on people trying to resist you as you change. Figure out how your plan around it. How are you going to avoid them? How are you gonna ignore them? How are you going to not let that obstacle stop you change. You're going to have change in yourself. Well, you have to grieve the losses as you changed your positives. I've yet to let go of some things and maybe you kind of like some of those things about yourself and maybe your old habits were kind of comforting because they were familiar. You're going to have to grieve your losses because change brings loss, but grieve it. Well, move on. You can do it. All right. We're gonna wrap this show up if you need a support group for this. Well, spring is forming some support groups right now.

25:57                                     Having support groups, they're six weeks long. If you want more information on that, it's on our website. Also, if you just want to come in and do it one on one, we have two to four sessions where someone can sit with you and coach you through what are your negative habits, how do you want to make positive ones and what's your strategy plan for doing that? Not Traditional deep counseling. This is just goal setting, positive enhancement counseling. You're welcome to come do that. Go to our website wellspring, miami.org and we'll hook you up with either that support group or the individual coaching session on starting good habits. Also, you can go to our website for extra handouts, things like that for links to prior radio shows, and eventually maybe even four links to the seminar we had on last Saturday. And next I want to tell you what's coming up.

26:42                                     So we're done habits for now, but you got to keep going out. I'm on wellsprings here to help you with them coming up. Now we're going to start a new series about truth work in a test the truth, how important is the truth? And I want to present to you each week something I think is true and we're going to test it out. What does scripture say? What do you say? You can give me some responses. What is life experience say? We're gonna explore and challenge truth, and I want you to join me on that new adventure starting on wellspring on the air. Starting next week, we're going to test the truth together. All right? Again, if you need any of these things, wellspring, mind me. Dot Org if you want to write us, give me some feedback. I love to hear it is on the air@wellspringmiami.org.

PodcastAlexandra Delgado