How can I bring about true Change?

Determine, Analyse and Recognise – the Beginning of Change

No true change can occur without change in the core of man’s being: his heart. His perception of who he is, who others are and who his Savior is, all depend on the impact of his generational history and of the past experiences.      

Major misunderstandings are often the cause of great disappointment following intensive counseling. Prior to any initiation of counseling, the patient should be clearly informed about the main areas of focus to ensure a solid, stable and long-term restoration of trauma. There can be little or no permanent change after only the spiritual side of the impact of trauma has been dealt with. The spiritual side of counseling (including deliverance) removes the legal right the relevant fallen angels had on the individual’s life. It also aids the ability to change in accordance to the truth. It does not however remove the lies and false perceptions that ineluctably follow trauma. The well known author and speaker, Joyce Meyer also states that change is impossible until the mind (including habitual thoughts) is straightened out. (Meyer, J.)

Man has to take responsibility of his own battle to change his thinking habits and allow truth to be integrated into his whole personality. The following diagram illustrates the vital aspect of working with all the relevant areas that calls for change.           

There is strategy in dealing with the lies step by step:

  • Step 1: Determine the Trigger

In the snake of dominoes, the one in front will activate the downfall of the rest when pushed over. That which causes the initial push in the process of thought patterns is referred to as the trigger. A voice, a sound, a situation, a feeling or any kind of circumstance can act as the relevant trigger.

Triggers typically work with association. The mind constantly seeks a connection between sensory input and some familiar term or description already in the memory bank. This saves the brain substantial energy and quickens the interpretation and final choice of appropriate behavior.

Trauma as explained previously distorts interpretation and will inevitably sabotage growth and controlled, elevating behavior. Past pain will entertain situations as triggers for correlating thought-patterns which will almost always simply confirm the conviction of the lie within the victim’s heart. E.g. if a person was rejected as a child, he will inevitably have mental ‘glue’ for sensory information confirming his conviction that he is not worthy to be accepted. Every day situations of neighbors secretly sharing information excluding him from the conversation, will be an immediate trigger for the lie in his mind stating that he rejected again.  

These triggers need to be well determined by the person in therapy. He should be given clear instructions explaining the necessity of understanding his specific triggers. This process will challenge his emotional intelligence and aid in gaining self understanding and tolerance. He will become increasingly aware of how his mind operates and how much thought as well as action is unconsciously determined. He will also grow in understanding and enjoying his individuality, realizing that triggers are unique for each individual: For a soldier a load crash sound will trigger fear and anxiety due to memories of bombs and potential danger. For another the same sound will merely cause him to have a sense of curiosity without a sense of fear.

Emotions normally accompany triggers and activate the urgency of the mental process. Fear, anxiety, panic or sadness encourages the intensity of attention the trigger will enjoy by the genetic filtration and choice of final reaction. The next step requires more patience and time but is equally significant in the process of change.

  • Step 2: Analyze thought-patterns

Every detailed thought following the trigger needs to be analyzed. This process can be related to a tape recorder playing in the mind. During this analyzing process, the ‘stop’ button should be pressed as soon as possible and the ‘rewind’ button pressed to move in reverse and determine thought by thought. In relation each domino in the pattern represents a specific thought. The one acting as a trigger for the next until the whole thought pattern is completed and choice of behavior is reached. The difficulty in this analysis is usually the speed in the process from sensing the trigger to the acting out of the chosen behavior. It occurs within seconds. When this process is initiated the main complain from the patient is the difficulty to stop the process in time to prevent the familiar unacceptable behavior. It takes determination and loads of patience to persist and trust that the effort will indeed bear good fruit.   
The sooner the train of thought is stopped in its tracks the more control is gained over the whole process and the greater the success in choosing the most acceptable behavior. Successful insight in which life situations are active triggers, the more likely chances are to prevent the old, distorted, lie-based thought pattern from bearing fruit.

A further development of change is the inevitable choice of a truth-based alternative pattern of thought. This also takes a subsequent amount of time, energy and effort both emotionally, mentally and physically. The brain requires at least two to three months for creating new neural pathways and a healthy amount of nutrition to supply the desired energy.

These new truths are most effective once it has reached conviction ranking in the heart and demand the respect of the rest of his humanity. The final step in gaining mental control of self is thus the fruit-bearing step of behavior.

  • Step 3: Recognise behavior 

A series of behavior is typified of each individual. After determining typical triggers and the accompanying thought patterns certain predictable actions by then should be identifiable. Most behaviors will merely confirm the deeply engraved lie the heart is convicted of and will regularly remind the individual as well as the society he finds himself in what he is convicted of.

After step 1 and 2 are well in advance this step will be easily recognized and can be adjusted according to the new elevating truth. Behavior can be either acted out as a response or as a reaction. When a trigger lures the choice to react the behavior will mostly be negative and causing the other party involved to be likewise triggered to react yet again. A to and fro throw of triggers will follow, causing much damage to both relevant parties.

The alternative behavior is a response; instead of attacking the pain of the trigger, the more mature man would rather respond by answering the statement behind the trigger, and forbid the poison of negative words or intentions to hit and hurt. This is a mature level of communication and does not develop over night, although the effort it demands is more than worthwhile when the visible fruit of good, uplifting relationships are enjoyed and joy becomes a familiar companion.     

Choose to Change

Man himself is alone responsible for his behavior. As a young, vulnerable child no choice was given to become a victim of abuse and trauma. The unfairness of child abuse is often the cause of intense anger, hatred and bitterness in adulthood. This sadly often bears fruit of those adults abusing their own again, becoming pedophiles themselves or assaulting, stealing or even murdering other innocent people. The criminal acts are often ‘justified’ by stories of unfair treatment as children.

The three basic areas of responsibility are:

Man’s feelings: What emotions are still easily triggered; anger, bitterness, self pity, depression or hatred? Are my emotions in charge of my will? This will reveal the state of healing, whether still broken or in the process of healing.

Man’s attitude: What is the motivation of the heart? Why am I doing what I am? What drives me to act this way? This is mainly the revelation of the heart’s convictions.

Man’s behavior: What acts are elevating and acceptable for the Lord? Am I reacting or responding, still bearing good fruit? The fruit should be the revelation of the true state of the heart, no compromise to self or denial of the true psyche of man. 
The FAB (Feelings, Attitude and Behavior) is the monitor of the development on the road to healing and maturity. The more controlled but true to self, Godly and elevating, the further growth and wholeness have come in the individual’s life. 

Each individual will be judged according to his own deeds. (Rom 2: 6; Ampl) If the hurting, angry man stays callous and stubborn, denying change, he will breed hatred, wrath and indignation in the womb of his heart. He and he alone will bear the consequences which are eventual emotional, mental, spiritual death and eternal pain. Grasping this truth should motivate any human being. However the effort and discipline this change-process demands often leaves man too tired to care.

Breakthrough challenges determination and desperation. Successful change depends on the activation of the will. As soon as the vital truth regarding the power of the will is realized, change moves into a more attainable goal. Hope is resurrected from the ashes of despair and the power of the will is regained and mobilized to assist change. 

Once the trigger is determined, the pattern analyzed and the behavior recognized change is well within reach. Although triggers as situations will not necessarily change, the ability to deal with it will thus eventually differ.

Jesus encouraged His Disciples by saying: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.’ (John 14: 27, Amplified) It is therefore possible through man’s dedication to Him that he is enabled to either allow or refuse the negative impact of other.

The trigger loses its poisonous sting and the victim becomes the victor!    

By Gerdi van den Berg