I created a small sign to put on my fridge. It says this: 'The brain learns whatever is repeated, both helpful and unhelpful thoughts, actions, and habits.' This sign serves as a reminder to practice what I call 'clean thinking.' I have found it to be key to my mental, physical, and spiritual health, and in many ways it's even more important than what I put in my mouth.
The thoughts we think signal the brain to send different chemicals into the body, which affect our health and vitality on every level. Positive thoughts send signals for peace, happiness and the like; while negative thoughts can chemically signal the body to feel anxiety and fear, which lead to fear-filled behaviors. So the million dollar question is…
What chemicals are your thoughts sending into your body?
The simple sign on my fridge reflects the neuroscience behind the triumphs and struggles we are all too familiar with. Repetitive thoughts lead to having the same feelings, which lead to the same conditioned behaviors.
The apostle Paul expressed the struggle well in his letter to the Romans: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (7:15, NIV).
As a clinical psychologist I have come alongside countless men and women struggling with what they put in their mouth. They range in their struggle from being overly concerned with healthy or clean eating, to disordered eating, to having full-blown eating disorders. All of these exemplify various degrees of repetitive thinking that then contributes to unhealthy behaviors around food and weight. An unhealthy or excessive concern with food and weight negatively affects a person's ability to think, see, and live their life to the fullest—physically, mentally and spiritually.
On the flip side, when we understand that the brain learns whatever is repeated, we can then be mindful and create patterns that are positive and life-giving. This is reflected in Paul's exhortation to the Philippians to choose to think on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable (4:8).
This is good news—a changed mind can change your brain, which in turn changes your biochemistry. Therefore, a significant part of ANY recovery process involves replacing the distorted thoughts that contribute to the cycle of unwanted feelings and behaviors with God's life-giving, transformative truth that empowers us to know and behave according to God's good will for our lives (Romans 12: 2).
My body is 'worry intolerant!' I practice clean thinking by counting thoughts instead of calories, cutting out criticism instead of carbs, and becoming a connoisseur of fine thinking. I invite you to join me!
Dr. Tim Clinton interviews Dr. Margaret Nagib on the daily broadcast.
On the broadcast, Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Nagib identify the widespread impact of diseases like bulimia and anorexia and how those struggling can find healing and restoration.
Learn More about the Guest
Dr. Margaret Nagib is a clinical psychologist specializing in Christian counseling, inner healing, and personal and spiritual development coaching and organizational consulting. Her passion is partnering with the Holy Spirit to restore wholeness through a deeper relationship with God, helping individuals, communities, and organizations reclaim their identity, purpose and passion. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. and has been working in the field of psychology since 1998.
Margaret trains professionals to partner with the power of the Holy Spirit. She also travels around the country, as well as internationally, to provide seminars for various organizations and churches on wholeness. She is the author of Souls Like Stars: Renew Your Mind, Heal Your Heart, Unveil Your Shine. She has a private practice in Wheaton, IL. Connect with Margaret on her personal website.