The world inside our minds can be a fascinating place. For some of us, it’s even more “real” than the outer world. Introverts in particular approach the world from the perspective that reality is what we bring to it from within. However, every type has an introverted and an extroverted side. Extroverts have an inner life, just like Introverts have an extroverted persona they use in the outer world. We all prefer one or the other as our starting point for conceptualizing reality, but every human being has an “inner world” of some kind.
Susan Storm’s post “The Secret World of Every Introverted Myers-Briggs® Personality Type” is what prompted today’s post. It got me thinking about how the worlds inside our own heads work, especially in connection with the Joyce Myers’ book Battlefield of the Mind that I’ve been reading. How much control do we have over the types of thoughts that we think? To what extent is our inner world shaped consciously? And if we don’t like something about the way our inner world or “thought life” is now, can we change it?
Our Minds Shape Us
The question of what our inner world looks like is probably most interesting to introverts, but I think it’s one that extroverts benefit from considering as well. None of us walk around all day with our minds a blank slate waiting for something outside us to fill out thoughts. We’re all using our inner thought life for something, even if it seems to just be running on automatic.
The Book of Proverbs tells us that as a man “thinks within himself, so is he” (Prov. 23:7, TLV). Even if you’re not a Bible-reader, it’s still a principle that we can apply. The things that we think about on the inside shape who we are and who we’re becoming on the outside. It’s impossible to separate what our inner world looks like from the reality of who we are as a whole person.
And We Shape Our Minds
It wouldn’t do much good to talk about what we want our inner inner worlds to look like unless we were capable of exerting control over our own minds. I know sometimes that seems well-nigh impossible. If you’re like me, your thoughts often seem like they’re just doing their own thing and there’s no stopping them.
Thankfully, though, we can retrain our minds. This is one of the first things my counselor and I talked about when I went to her for help with my anxiety. She used the analogy of a grassy field with well-worn paths through it to explain how our minds get comfortable with thought patterns. The more we think a certain way, the easier it gets to keep following those same paths. And the harder it get to change the paths our minds take.
Continuing the field analogy, taking a new “thought path” is going to be challenging at first. You have to wade through grass and weeds that offer resistance. It would be easy to hop back on the familiar path, and you often will as you start working to change your inner world. But it’s not impossible to shape and reshape our minds and thoughts. It just takes persistent, conscious effort.
Practicing Mind Control
For those of us who are Christians, the Bible tells us we have a special advantage in trying to change our natural thought patterns. When God created us, He designed the human spirit inside us (the aspect of our being that makes us alive and conscious in a different way than animals are) to be able to communicate with His Spirit.
Paul tells us that human beings all know “things of man” by “the spirit of the man, which is in him.” We get to know the mind of God by “the Spirit which is from God,” which God places inside us “that we might know the things that were freely given to us by God.” Paul sums up this passage with the remarkable statement, “we have Christ’s mind” (1 Cor. 2:7-16).
We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5, AMP)
Taking every thought and purpose captive seems a daunting task. There’s an awful lot of inner-world activity included in that phrase! But things that are impossible for us on our own are not impossible after we enter a relationship with God because “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). Even getting your inner world under control isn’t out of reach.
Choosing Your Inner World
Operating from the assumption that we can change our inner world, especially with God’s help, then what do you want your inner world to look like?
Part of the inner world we shape is going to be determined simply by personality preferences. In this sense there isn’t really a right or wrong answer to the question — it’s simply a matter of understanding how your mind prefers to work and utilizing that to best advantage.
Other parts of our inner world might be something we want and even need to change. Anxiety, for example, rarely gets better until you start retraining your mind (of course, treating anxiety is a lot more complicated than simply choosing to think a different way, but that’s a topic for another post). And there might be other aspects of your thought life that you recognize as “wrong” in some way that you’ll want to work on changing as well.
I can’t answer the question of what your inner world should look like for you any more than you can answer it for me. But I do think that it’s important for each of us to ask ourselves, “What do I want my inner world to look like?” and then work toward making it a reality.
Featured image credit: DanaTentis via Pixabay