Each of us has a unique mix of mental content which preconditions us to act in certain ways. Learned responses guide us into programmed action. Seldom will anyone change unless they know why they should change. If the mind cannot understand the benefit of change and believe it is the right thing to do, it will often convince itself to avoid it.
Ego Defense Mechanisms are discussed regularly with people suffering from addiction. They are discussed because the addictive brain often refuses to explore abstinence or recovery. The brain is the manager of decisions, belief, and faith. The spirit can influence the brain, but the brain can ignore influences. We ought to understand how this works for improved discernment of information.
Desperate people refuse help everyday, help that would save their lives and their souls. How we think, and how we learn to think, greatly affects our choices.
Many of us require convincing evidence "why should I" before we do something. With all the deception in the world it's safe and healthy to question why. But when it comes to being with God, why do we still hesitate? Why are we slow to do what is right? Why do we seek more self gratification than spiritual development?
We need convincing. To be convinced we first need willingness and desire which unfortunately often comes through suffering. Unwilling people will not apply information toward change.
We must accept responsibility for our thought choices. Our choices bring about consequences. To change our consequences we must change our choices and actions. We must own responsibility for our thinking behavior in order to enable ourselves to choose God. We can't choose God if we believe we have no power over choice.
Below are examples of various deceptive situation with some suggestions on how to make corrections.
In the Asch Conformity Experiment people were influenced to lie about information because others said it was true. When everyone in a group seems to believe something we will often condone their belief to avoid conflict.
Awkward. Doing right when others are doing wrong is awkward. Awkward does not mean wrong. Perhaps we need more awkwardness.
Spending time around others who influence us toward Godly activity can be a very good thing.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
Read pages 10 to 14 of the PDF book at the bottom of the page "Central Intelligence"
Once we have an understanding about something; life, God, church, relationships, love, etc. changing our minds or learning different will involve struggle (see Piaget's disequilibrium). Our minds will defend our beliefs against (ego defense mechanisms) new and different learning.
As we struggle (cognitive dissonance) to align our thought messages to become more obedient to Christ 2 Corinthians 10:5 we can improve our belief. Such thinking must be sincere and genuine. So we must see the good in God's ways to really believe it. That means we need new experiences.
The Milligrams Experiment demonstrates how much we are influenced to act against our beliefs even to the point of harming others just because someone we perceive to be of authority told us to do it.
Our authority ought to be from God. If we learn God through someone else then we learn someone else's view of God. God gave us the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) to teach us and guide us. We must learn to listen and follow teaching from the Spirit as it relates to the Bible for us to follow God more accurately. This means we have an inward authority. Good teachers will guide us to learn how to follow the Spirit.
When do we lose faith in our abilities? How do we set limits on ourselves? Too old, too dumb, too slow...
In most things we can improve, but we must first be willing to believe we can improve.
Read the Poem PDF below
"A Winner's Creed"
The only way to see our potential is to put ourselves to the test. We let reality decide for us instead of our assumptions. New understanding comes through new experiences. Godly understanding comes through spiritual experiences.
"a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true"
We make quick judgements all the time. We have to get things done. Yet when it comes to God we ought to slow down and use our senses of evaluation, reason, and test.
We ought to stay as object as possible within our thinking. We stop predicting outcomes, focus on living out Godly character. We let God control results.
We are all swayed by our own cognitive bias. Each of us have personal preferences that guide us in a certain direction (direction of our preferences).
Improving our growth with God involves evaluating our preferences to see if they can be improved (more aligned with God's will). What feels good to us doesn't always mean it's good to God.
Take time to go through the list of cognitive biases and find some you may have experienced.
Growth means we change. If we don't change, we don't grow.
God cannot be understood through just reading and talking.
1 Corinthians 1:21 the world through wisdom did not know God,
Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him
1 John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
God is love, peace, patience, truth, etc. To know God is to grow in God's ways.
See the knowledge argument
Sin means to miss the mark (God is the mark). God's ways can be way different than ours. So aligning our ways with God's can choosing to act contrary to the way we know.
Watch this video (backwards Bicycle)
How long did it take to change?
Do some people think it's easy to do.
How much effort, time, and frustration did he have to go through to relearn?
How frequent did he practice?
Inertia - resisting change in direction or speed
This rule applies to matter, which our bodies are made of, so it applies to us.
When our minds begin moving in a certain direction, evil or good, our thinking builds to support the notion and we seek evidence that convinces us it is true. It can grow like a snowball rolling downhill. The bigger and faster it is the more difficult it becomes to change its motion.
It's always good to begin the day with good thoughts and choices.
We must through patient endurance seek diligently to know God's ways and character. This evidence gathering helps to convince ourselves more of God's reality.
Growing in truth, love, forgiveness, peace, patience, mercy, justice, and generosity teaches us about God.
New friends, habits, messages, music, movies, etc. can all help to get the ball rolling in a new direction.
Being reborn or renewed means we are becoming a new person. Our outsides may not look much different, but inward we are changing. We are following a new authority and new principles that are reshaping our thoughts, attitudes, and experiences.
We will have a prompt to go a direction from our old learning, which we must deny, and follow a new prompt that is from God and the Holy Spirit.
We need each other. Just as bad company corrupts good character, love can cover sin (proverbs 10:12 & 1 Peter 4:8). Join a group of people who agree to this process of obeying Godly character growing in; peace, patience, truth, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, generosity, justice, and love.
Hearing and witnessing others growing with God is a powerful supportive experience.
Living increasingly with God's principles & character can improve our integrity, health, relationships, and abilities, right here and now. There is an abundance of improvements to be had if we can choose to grow our love for God. As we do so, our families can also reap the benefits.
We can create new supportive structure to guide our development of God's character. At first it can be heavy on effort, but after a while it becomes much easier. It's our choice.