Now let’s look at the mental means by which we have come to this state. Every sentient human has the ability to control what he or she thinks. It is not always easy, but it is possible. We who have chronic anxiety, OCD, and I think even depression, have developed destructive mental habits. We have made connections between events in regular life and “bad thoughts” stronger every day. We might see a cup and think “germs” or see and car and think “accident” or go to the grocery store and think “panic attack”. We have developed inappropriate links between our thoughts and incidences in our lives. With time, these links have become automatic, and by the time we recognize that there is a problem, they already seem ingrained and insurmountable.
Let me put it this way, think of our minds as the earth and our thoughts as a river. We who have anxiety, fears and panic have thoughts that run in a predictable pattern, like a deep river, etching its way into our mind. We have allowed our thoughts to follow one path—fear—and that path has worn a groove into our minds so that other thoughts also follow that path of fear. What started out as a trickling creek has become a swollen river that has cut a path as wide as the Grand Canyon so that more thoughts flow through the fear path than through any other.
We need to direct our thoughts into a different path, one not fraught with fear and worry. It may seem an impossible task, but it can be done.
Let me give you an example of how we will accomplish this. If I mention the word “clouds” to you, what do you think of? Do you think of tornadoes? Do you think of puffy summer clouds? Or do you think of a song from the 70’s by Judy Collins? Let’s say that you thought of puffy summer clouds. Now, if I put you in a room and played the song by Judy Collins nonstop for three days and then asked you what you thought of when I said “clouds”, you would think not of puffy summer clouds, but of that song. We have just retrained your brain. We have etched a different thought path in your mind. We have taken one word that used to mean one thing and changed its meaning for you. That is one way we are going to help you heal. Not by locking you in a room with a stack of 8 track tapes, but by re-creating paths in your brain that replace fearful associations with peaceful, faithful, godly ones. We are going to place your thoughts back into rational focus.