(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
THE INSIDE STORY
The mind is the most private part of your inner life. No one can know for sure what you allow to enter into it, and no one can know what goes on in your mind unless you reveal it.
SECTION 1: MANAGING YOUR MIND
The longer I work with people, the more convinced I become that everyone can and does control his mind. We make our own decisions, and no one can change them.
POWER TO CHOOSE
Here are some areas in which you have the power to make choices:
- Give an accurate report, inaccurate report, or no report when questioned.
- Share all or part or nothing that is on your mind.
- Choose to obey or disobey.
- Obey outwardly and rebel inwardly.
- Choose or refuse to study.
- Look at whatever you choose to look at.
- Choose what you will listen to, whether it involves people, radio, TV, movies, or CDs. If forced to listen, what you hear can surely “go in one ear and out the other.”
- Read or refuse to read whatever you wish.
- Seek advice and then follow or ignore it.
- Resist advice.
- Turn away from past teaching or abide by it.
- Make plans and carry them out, drop them, or change them.
- Form your own opinions.
- Forgive people.
- Nurse your grudges.
- Reveal or conceal feelings and emotions.
- Turn to God or away from Him.
Everyone has the power of choice. While writing this chapter, I observed a tiny four-year-old refuse to eat his bread in spite of the threat of physical punishment at the hands of a 200-pound adult. He was prepared to risk a spanking, suffer hunger, and sacrifice the good will of his parents, but he wasn’t eating that bread.
Recently, some friends were sharing experiences regarding their children and piano lessons. One child refused to practice no matter what incentives or threats were made. After three months, the parents gave up, worried about the future of their “bull-headed” child.
Another child in the same family also resisted practicing piano, but gave up easily. Her parents considered her a “more sensible” child than her brother. To their surprise, she quit playing the piano the day of high school graduation. When pressed for a reason, she explained she never liked it, but it wasn’t worth the hassle to fight it. Their daughter wasn’t as “sensible” as they thought she was.
TWO CHILDREN IN CONTROL OF THEIR CHOICES
Here were two children with identical minds about practicing piano. They illustrate the difficulty we have in making judgments about someone’s inner life based upon their words or behavior.
Both children were in charge of their own minds. In the boy’s case, his words and behavior were a true reflection of what was on his mind. In the girl’s case, her words and behavior were a misrepresentation of what was on her mind. The Bible puts it clearly:
For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you (Proverbs 23:7).
Our reflection can be real—or an illusion of how we really are.