Insights Into My Behavioral Change
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My irrational thinking caused a chain of destructive emotions and sinful behavior. Beginning with Eve in the Garden, thoughts of not having or being enough, or of missing out on something important, caused the first couple to hide from God in fear, guilt and shame, with feelings of rejection.
Emotions are simply feelings on the inside, caused by pain or pleasure, moving us in a positive or negative direction. When I examined where my fears and sense of inferiority originated, I found what thoughts and feelings caused them to create character defects in my life. I discovered the causative and contributing factors that triggered my criminal behavior, how to address them and create a new life plan. It took a little help from Jesse and others in recovery, so I thought it might help you too.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
My inability to handle fear and anxiety stemming from academic, parental and peer pressure created learned behaviors and ingrained beliefs. My anxiety formed the foundation of my destructive feelings. Dr. Charles Stanley wrote, “For us to overcome our fears, it is crucial we unearth where they [fears] originated from, which then shows us what thoughts triggered them [emotions].” 1
Triggers are stimulations, both internal and external, from events that cause thoughts, feelings, reactions, and responses, resulting in positive or negative consequences. In school, I thought I had to be perfect in order to be accepted. I felt my significance was based upon my performance, triggering stress, anxiety, and other weaknesses. My insecure worldview caused wrong choices and decisions. My choices became actions, then habits, that became automatic, creating my self-identity, character and destiny.
These defects are rooted internally in the core of fallen man. Fear and anxiety generated in my soul (psyche) over a period of time, until I subconsciously attempted to numb their effects. I tried to escape or medicate the pain with addictive behaviors, but it simply festered within my soul, causing other character defects, destructive coping mechanisms, hidden scars and layers of paralyzing anxiety.
These factors are negative influences from those with similar character defects, which enhanced their effect when I developed unified perceptions, ideas, attitudes, beliefs and decisions to rationalize deadly actions. This, coupled with isolating myself with a group, taking drugs and having weapons, was a recipe for violent behavior. But ultimately, my own desires enticed me and drug me away. These desires gave birth to my sinful actions. 2
These are a combination of character defects and causative factors that were involved at the time of the crime. It is also important to consider specific triggers contributing to the crime. For me, delusional beliefs, a favor owed, drugs (speed), fear of rejection, negative self-talk and anger behind the weapons were regretfully the driving force.
Addressing Character Defects and Causative Factors
Thinking the holistic way helped to formulate my recovery strategies. Since I was born again in 1975, my core power is Spirit. I have a soul (thoughts, choices and emotions), and I live in a body. 3 I’m not what I do, but who I am spiritually, empowering me to think, choose, feel and act. By applying healthy spiritual, mental, emotional, social and physical coping skills, I have learned to harness my emotions by taking authority over every thought through renewing my mind with God’s Word. Spirit-born feelings mobilize my actions, manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. 4
Who I Am Today
My identity is based upon my trust in the Lord, that is, who I am, what I have, and what I can do in Christ to benefit society. For me, my past doesn’t define who I am! Rather, it brought me to my knees, where I believed to receive God’s power, ability and tools to change through intimacy with Him. In the past, my emotions ruled my life, but today, God’s power is ruling my emotions. “God is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we ask or think.” 5
It is most important to be accountable by creating new coping skills (such as the ones I’ve listed). These developed along the way in my recovery, but faith in God’s love and grace empowers me to succeed daily, while carrying out His plan and purpose for my life. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” 6
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1) Emotions, by C. F. Stanley, Howard Books
2) James 1:14,15, NLT
3) 1 Thessalonians 5:23
4) Galatians 5:22,23
5) Ephesians 3:20, NLT
6) Jeremiah 29:11, NLT