Six years ago I wrote a post about the Three Laws of Emotional Strength per Tommy Newberry’s book, The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life. I’m pretty sure…NO, fairly confident now is a good time to revisit that post and those three laws. I’ll begin with the same disclaimer I did six years ago, this is not some crazy mumbo-jumbo, new-age goofiness!
These Three Laws of Emotional Strength are based on and in sound teaching about our thoughts determining our feelings and thus our lives. This is such a well-known fact, thoughts determining our feelings, the Bible even addresses it! If you want to get into a great study about our thoughts or our words, grab your Bible and start reading the Book of Proverbs–one chapter a day for a month. Make some type of note each time you read about our thoughts or our words; you’ll be surprised how often they are mentioned in the Book of Proverbs!
Back to the Three Laws of Emotional Strength. According to the author of The 4:8 Principle, Tommy Newberry the three laws are the Law of Attention, the Law of Exchange, and the Law of Reversibility. In the original post I dug into the first law, the Law of Attention. Let’s dig into the other two today.
The Law of Exchange
The Law of Exchange states, “You can do away with a negative thought only when you replace it with a positive thought.” Surprisingly, when I first read that years ago, it kind of stumped me and was brand new, shocking information. Reading it now, six years out, I’m like “Duh Jenny.” So don’t feel bad wherever you may fall on that spectrum.
The easiest way to explain and give an example for the Law of Exchange is this, “Don’t think of a red apple!” What did you think of? A RED APPLE! You can’t get rid of a bad thought or a negative thought or a scary thought simple by telling yourself to stop thinking about it. Someone else can’t tell you stop thinking about something scary, or negative and make the thought leave. It doesn’t work that way; you can’t leave a void.
Since telling ourselves to stop or having someone else tell us to stop won’t work, since leaving a void, an empty space in our mind and thoughts won’t work either, we have to try something different, replacing the thought. Using our apple example above, telling you to stop thinking about a red apple won’t make you stop thinking about a red apple–quite the opposite as a matter of fact! But if I tell you to think of a yellow banana, you immediately start thinking about a yellow banana.
Years ago when I was struggling with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive thoughts so many times those anxious thoughts and circular thinking revolved around the fear of dying. Trust me when I tell you no matter how hard I tried to stop thinking about all the scary thought that involved the possibility of dying, I couldn’t move past them! I had to replace them. So when thought so dying would grab hold of me, I had to start thinking and “doing” life.
One of my life-savers during that time, one of my “life” thoughts or things that I did was scrub my shower. Again, trust me when I tell you this, it’s almost impossible to focus on the fear of dying when you’re scrubbing the grout in your shower.
Another lifesaver at that time was to recall a special memory, but it had to be a memory I had strong emotions tied to. The more emotion, the more senses I could tap into to, like how things smelled in that memory or tasted, or if there was music playing. The more senses I could involve, the easier it was to practice the Law of Exchange.
Do not ever fear being too bold in the Law of Exchange! If you need a kick booty playlist to help you exchange negative thoughts for good ones, make it! Play it loud! If you need a certain scent (citrus essential oils are scientifically proven to boost your mood and candles are toxic, so choose wisely) then find that scent–wear it, diffuse it, bake it…whatever you need to do, do! Take back your thoughts!!
The Law of Reversibility
The Law of Reversibility refers to our God-given capability to produce feelings as a result of deliberate behavior. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Fake it until you make it”? Same idea.
God has given the great gift of free will and choice–sometimes this backfires, am I right? But let’s use that gift for our benefit and for His glory! Let’s say I’m having an awful day and I hate everyone. Instead of sitting and stewing on those feeling, allowing them to grow, I get up, put a smile on my face, and go serve someone–even if it’s just making a pitcher of sweet tea I know the people in my house will love.
The very act of forcing a smile on my face starts the chemical reaction of changing my feelings–they’re so flippant and easily changed. The very act of moving my body into the kitchen and serving others again works chemically in my body to produce feelings of happiness or service…at the very least I’m sitting in my grumpy mood because I’ve forced the smile and forced my body to move.
Here’s the thing, feelings are so incredibly strong and deceptive. We accustom ourselves into thinking, if we feel it, it must be true. But even before that, we allow our thoughts to produce our feelings. Let’s use that incredible power for good, for God’s glory rather than allow ourselves to be led by circumstance and situation.
Here are some other posts on the power of our thoughts and what the Bible has to say about our thoughts.