For nearly two years now, I’ve been seeing a counselor every week. This week, we talked about something I never expected: baked potatoes.
Here’s the context:
Imagine I just cooked a baked potato in the oven. I ask you to hold out your hand to me. I drop the potato in your hand. What would you do? Drop it, of course, because that baby is HOT and likely burned you.
Now, let’s imagine this picture applying to how we think.
My counselor described two kinds of thoughts– resourcing thoughts and de-resourcing thoughts. Resourcing thoughts are ones that are helpful to us, to our growth, to our wellbeing. They are tools, they are constructive, and they are ultimately useful to us. De-resourcing thoughts are the opposite — they aren’t helpful, they are damaging to our growth and wellbeing, and they are destructive.
When we think a de-resourcing thought, the aim is to drop it just as quickly as we would drop that hot baked potato.
We don’t want to let these unhelpful thoughts burn us. We don’t want to hold on to what is not helpful for us. So when we think a damaging, destructive, hurtful thought, we need to drop it as quickly as we can. The sooner we can let that thought go and do or think literally anything else, the better we will be.
I never thought a potato would be a helpful picture in my self-reflection journey… but here we are.
I think a million de-resourcing thoughts a day, if I’m honest. Part of this stems from the fact that I’m an Enneagram One with a loud inner critic, but mostly, it’s because I’m just human and I’m hard on myself. It’s thoughts like “ugh, I suck at this,” “I look fat in this outfit,” “I’m a failure because I made a mistake at work,” “I’m supposed to be perfect at this and I’m not” and on, and on, and on… I’m sure you can think of dozens of your own examples.
But these thoughts aren’t ultimately helpful. They’re coming from a place of shame, of fear, of anger, and of self-hate. Dropping these thoughts and reframing them to think more positively and constructively, however, starts to change things. Those de-resourcing thoughts have carved out well-worn pathways in my brain, to be sure, but I can actively work to renew my mind and rewrite those pathways.
I’m encouraged by Romans 12:2 that says we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds, even though I know it takes hard work and a whole lot of faith in my Creator.
It looks like paying attention to my thoughts, noticing when they are hurtful, dropping them, and choosing to think something helpful instead.
It looks like shifting from “I’m a failure because I made a mistake” to thinking “Yes, I made a mistake, but there is grace for me here. What can I learn from this experience? How can I improve so I do things better next time?”
It looks like going from “I am supposed to be perfect at my morning quiet times to be a good Christian” to thinking “God desires to be close to me, and He is not waiting with a gradebook to judge my performance or my behavior. He just wants me to draw near, and He has endless love and mercy for me, even if I oversleep sometimes and get distracted during my Bible study.”
It looks like dropping hot potatoes and picking up grace in its place. A weird picture, I know, but helpful nonetheless.
Those pathways in my brain might be well-worn, but I know God is at work transforming me as I daily work to renew my mind. The more I turn away from shameful, hurtful, damaging thinking, the more I turn toward a Creator who offers me forgiveness, healing, and restoration in all things. Day by day, He is making me new. He is creating in me a new heart and renewing a right spirit within me… and that’s a gift.
As you go about your day, pay attention to your thoughts. When you find them to be hurtful, drop them like they’re hot. And make room for a helpful thought instead, trusting that the Spirit is at work within you, transforming you and renewing your mind.