The Thinker

Monday, October 25, 2010

A few years ago I was able to see the bronze and marble sculpture The Thinker by Auguste Rodin in Paris. I remember puzzling over the replica of this sculpture in our home as a child. What was The Thinker thinking? I had also seen the 1960s sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which began or ended with Dobie sitting on a park bench posing like the sculpture with a reproduction in the background. The statue depicts a man in sober meditation battling with a powerful internal struggle. I wonder if the thinker is weighed down by heavy thoughts. Has he let negativity creep in? Are his thoughts cluttered? Is he unable to get up and get moving? Has he let little negatives grow into big negatives? What would it take for him to move from a state of thinking to a state of action?

Have you ever stopped to consider the little negative expressions that might clutter your mind or your conversations? We hear hundreds of them throughout the day.

“I’m afraid I’m going to be late.”
“What if I fail?”
“I could never do that.”
“This day will never end.”
“Bad luck always finds its way to me.”
“There’s too much to get done.”
“I’ll never make it.”
“This is too hard.”
“It’s not worth it.”
“I’m a loser.”

To a degree we all struggle with leaping from trivial problems to unrealistic conclusions. If we’re not careful though, those little negatives will take over our thought process and prevent us from moving forward in a positive way. Thoughts can multiply and so can the damage of a negative thought. Some of these notions are called “automatic thoughts” that reflect core beliefs and are habitual responses to situations. Automatic thoughts often help us make good decisions in a hurry, but sometimes these thoughts aren’t accurate. Chronic negativity about self or others is an indication that our thoughts are inaccurate. Negative thoughts will clutter our mind and then one negative thought leads to another and another and another. This thought clutter leads to persistent brooding or rumination. From the Latin for “chewing cud,” the word rumination describes cattle that grind up, swallow, regurgitate and rechew their feed. Similarly, we grind up our disappointments, weaknesses, and issues and mull them over at length – ad nauseum!

We can overcome these little negative and ruminations.
1. Become conscious of them.
2. Remember: “What I think on expands!”
3. Replace a negative thought with a positive one.
4. Ask God to take every thought captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
5. Dwell on good things. Make a blessings list and post it!

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)


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