What Does It Feel Like to Change Our Thinking? A Lesson From Daniel Tiger

Last week we talked about learning how to quiet our minds or “be still” so we can hear God’s voice more clearly.  For any of you who have tried this since then, you have probably found that it can be really hard to change how you think!  When we try to change our thought patterns we often find our minds distracted by our doubts, our insecurities, or we simply start ticking through the to-do list for the day in an attempt to control our worry.  If this is you, take comfort!  There is hope for clearing out the noise.

First, one of the greatest achievements in brain science in the past fifty years has been in the area of neuroplasticity.  We used to believe that once we passed a certain age it was almost impossible for our brains to begin thinking a different way.  We have now learned that neuroplasticity is lifelong and that with enough repetition, our brains can literally form new pathways and new connections that allow us to think and behave in different ways.

Secondly, I would like to offer you a nostalgic example of what changing your thinking sounds like.  The clip below comes to you courtesy of the late, great Mr. Rogers.  In an episode on “Making Mistakes”, the recently released documentary on his life highlights a beautiful exchange between Daniel Tiger and Lady Aberlin.  In this conversation, Daniel shares some very difficult thoughts he has been having.  The way she listens to him is a masterclass in how to hear someone say hard things.  After Daniel shares his worries with her, Lady Aberlin kindly responds by offering information that she hopes will convince him that the things he believes about himself aren’t true.  Daniel listens politely, clearly understands the information, but is not convinced.

It is in this moment that the genius of Fred Rogers really kicks in.  As Lady Aberlin continues her attempts to share truth with Daniel, he begins to sing his doubts at the same time, creating a duet.  Their competing words are an incredible picture of what happens in our brains when we are trying to listen for truth but our old thought patterns keep playing at the same time.

This noisy combination of our old thoughts and our new thoughts is exactly what change feels like, especially at the beginning.  It can be uncomfortable to have those competing voices and it takes a while, sometimes a long while, to change.  However, with enough practice, and kindness to yourself as you go along, the voice of truth will eventually begin to sing louder than the other.  Remember, Jesus does not get tired of telling us the same things again and again, in fact, the Bible suggests that these kinds of repetition actually help keep us safe. (Philippians 3:1)

Duet away my friend, He loves singing with you…

Video – PBS Kids.

 

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