This is part three for May’s National Mental Health Awareness month. In my previous posts, I talked about processing our thoughts and our emotions.
The more we dwell on negative things in our minds – bitterness, anger, resentment, the more we dwell on things we cannot control, the unhealthier we will be. Eventually, something will spill out and it could be very destructive. The destruction could be turned inward (suicide) or outward (homicide). We must apply the THINK principle: Truthful, Honorable, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind.
Same for our emotions: emotions cause feedback loops with our thoughts. Emotions can feed our thoughts even as our thoughts can control our emotions. The emotionally mature (healthy) process their passions. They feel everything, but they evaluate everything. Where is their anger coming from? Where is their love, or lust, coming from?
Now, when I speak of the “Heart”, I do not mean the emotional center. I am looking at what lies below. I mean your core values and how you evaluate your thoughts and emotions. Christian apologists often use the word “worldview” to describe a person’s values and the frameworks we use to understand the world.
Unless we identify our core values and principles, we will lurch from crisis to crisis. We must go deeper into our heart.
I am reminded of a story that Christian author Ruth Haley Barton told in one of her books. Barton recounted a time she went swimming in the Everglades, Florida. She was warned that there were crocodiles below. She noted the warning and continued on her way. Not long after, she noticed a shadow below. It was indeed a croc. Barton was probably out of the water faster than Usain Bolt.
I believe the mentally healthy have to do the same. We might not have swum with crocodiles or dived in a cage to see a Great White shark, but there are crocodiles and Orca whales in their souls. More importantly, we have to deal with them, otherwise the things lurking in our souls and hearts will devour us.
In fact, some of our core values might even be ticking timebombs.
Why can our worldviews be so destructive?
If you believe in nihilism and life has no meaning, why live?
If you believe the world owes you, why not just take? Use violence or any other means. Unleash your anger and hate.
I hope you see the issue; left unchecked and unexamined, our worldviews will lead to unhealthy and even destructive patterns of behavior.
Changing behaviors without changing the underlying attitudes and beliefs is meaningless. You can change a person’s behavior for only a short time before he defaults to the old ways. But if you change how he sees the world, if you can change his heart, the behavior will follow.
That leads to be better mental and emotional health.