On Knee-Jerk Reactions and Changing Your Mind

“Thoughts lead on to purpose, purpose leads on to actions, actions form habits....." Tryon Edwards

About four years ago, a year into my marriage, I discovered that my husband hadn't been completely upfront with me about his past or the things he struggled with.

I was shattered, but most of all, the trust I had placed in him was obliterated. He was forthcoming, and eventually agreed to seek help from some trusted friends and professionals. Despite all that, I was drowning. Thoughts like, (How can I ever trust Him again? What if he hurts me? What if he falls back into the old habits?) continued to plague my mind. Time and time over he would prove himself sincere, attending classes, seeking help, and changing slowly with each step he took. But that small sinister voice kept nagging at me. Those thoughts made it hard for me to believe he was being genuine. At the inkling of what felt familiar, I'd spiral into fits of rage and anger, thinking, Here we go again! Eventually we came to a standstill.

Clearly he was changing into the man God had made him to be. He'd proven that something inside of him had shifted, but I was still playing the same old part. I beat him down with constant berating, questioning, and disrespect.I hadn't grown or improved. I still continued to have knee-jerk reactions that were crippling us and impairing both of us from moving forward. I was cynical about change, and by playing the same part, I wasn't allowing any relational improvement to happen. These habitual reactions that plagued me required no thought. They were patterned by previous experiences and put me on autopilot. How common is it to find ourselves daydreaming as we drive the same route to work? Our body and mind go into auto mode, and suddenly we arrive at our destination with little memory of how we ended up there. This same pattern can happen in many relationships where we may have been wounded by another and where habitual thoughts and reactions have been set up. At the very inkling of a situation that feels like a previous one, and suddenly we're reacting without thought or regard. But this doesn't have to be the norm.

The Greek word for repent, metanoia, literally means to "change your mind" or to "think differently." Habitual reactions to any situation will continue to ring true until we make a conscious choice to change our mind and think differently about the situation at hand. Or can I summarize it this way: repentance is letting God change us from the inside (our thoughts), out. Several months ago I made a conscious choice to think differently about my situation.

What I mean by that is that for hours I sat at God's feet, praying for my own heart and mind to be renewed towards my spouse. I had to acknowledge my part in the dysfunctional way we operated as a couple, the bondage I had to lies and judgments, and I had to forgive his prior actions. By continuing to hold him hostage to his past mistakes, I was impeding on his ability to lead our home and by continuing to give my habits free range of my actions, I was continuing to put myself in bondage. Freed from that, our marriage is flourishing. Don't get me wrong here. I still struggle, but I continue to stand on freed ground and rage against the lies the enemy would have me believe. I stand firm in refusing to play the same old part. I thought and continue to think differently. Do you have knee jerk reactions to situations? Do you continue to struggle with unforgiveness? Do you find yourself in the same relational patterns over and over again? Consider that it is time to get honest with God and let Him help you change your mind.

For one of the most life changing books on changing your mind, visit http://www.bobhamp.com/ and grab a copy of Think Differently Live Differently.


  1. I stumbled across your blog today, and I look forward to reading more of your posts! You really spoke to my heart today concerning reacting to situations in the same way just because I have "always" reacted that way. God gives us the power (in Him) to repent, but we must do our part in renewing our minds with His Word!


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