Insanity, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” the definition credited to Albert Einstein. None of us wants to be insane, by any definition of the word. Nonetheless this form of insanity is self-induced. The carousel of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is what happens when we act as if we have no control over thoughts, feelings, and limiting beliefs, which hold us captive to the same result. Insanity, indeed!
Our thinking directly relates to our feelings, actions, behaviors and habits. Our habits form our character and life becomes the sum total of all of the above. These components of us exist in a tiered relationship beginning with our thoughts. We are born with a way of reacting and engaging with our surroundings. As we have experiences, grow and mature we learn how to interact with the world around us. As we seek, we are able to find truth; we are given choices.
When we live our lives based on God’s way of being and doing right we have the best life. God’s word is truth. We are clearly instructed to love in His word. Jesus the Christ was precise about which is the great commandment. (See Matthew 22:36-40.)
We love God when we follow His commandment. Part of loving yourself means that you treat self with love, first. We can attempt to meet everyone else’s needs and leave ourselves out. We can be self-indulgent and forget about others totally. Neither method follows God’s instruction and therefore is out of order with His word. When we follow His word we are promised good success. As our Maker He knows best how and why He made us. By using His instructions we are assured to have the best outcome.
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is insanity! The habits we form around negative behaviors, which continue that momentum are a reflection of insanity. As we continue reacting in the same unloving way and expect good results that is insanity. This self-induced Insanity is about the habits we form!
Are you behaving as if you are insane? Like a broken carousel going round and round, seemingly moving but staying in the same timeworn rut, coming to a stop at another, familiar beginning again, is that your path? Have you been riding on an emotional carousel? Does your life show evidence of an increasing love of God, yourself and your neighbor?
Take a look, do you see yourself stuck on an emotional carousel where limiting beliefs hold you back? From year to year are you dealing with the same issues in the same way without good results? Insanity! To break free from the insanity we must take inventory and take action. This kind of transformation does not usually just happen. Breaking habits takes time and diligence.
In the not too distant past, my emotional carousel was triggered whenever my sensors detected the slight tinge of condescension, arrogance or disrespect being directed at me. I would become aggressive and combative. Engaging my thoughts by using destructive words with precision, like a hair triggered weapon. Once the target was identified I was relentless. Willing to verbally battle until the offender had been subdued. Store clerks and customer service employees were a favored target.
I was quick to anger and slow to forget. Keeping record of every wrong. I was repeatedly striking out in decidedly less than love while expecting different results; insanity!
Yes the hate, fear, hostility, abuse, betrayed trust and lack of love I experienced as a child had skewed my vision of love. Yes I had a number of volatile, bottled up emotions inside. Yes I had not been appropriately protected as a child. No it did not appear to me that my needs had been met. Still I am to love my neighbor as myself. Including those that hurt me, beginning with childhood.
No, I do not have a free pass to disavow the great commandment. Neither does anyone else!
It took me many years to recognize how my emotions were being triggered around anger. I asked God to help me to improve what I came to recognize as lacking in love. Those actions were preceded by thoughts that did not represent Him, His love for me and certainly not my love for myself or my neighbor. I asked Him for help. When I recognized that the constant in the insanity was me and my thinking, I asked God to show me how I could change.
Over and over I found myself with an inner feeling of emptiness, I readily recognize, although I find difficult to explain. To this day whenever I have that feeling I understand it is time, once again, to pull myself from the very same habit forming insanity by changing my mindset!
That pang of conviction causes me to apologize, repent or attempt to somehow break the link between the reactions that inevitably lead to that negative place, the self-induced insanity. On my best days, I stop the carousel before it begins, by renewing my mind regularly. That renewal replaces the unhealthy thoughts and feelings that for decades have shaped my behaviors, and thereby my life. I focus on the word of God and my faith in Him.
Each time it seems to get easier, though it is still a challenge. Appropriate practice makes perfect! My faith and understanding of God’s plan for my life empower me to operate in strength. Each victory over those thoughts causes me to grow my faith and love God, myself and my neighbor even more.
The good news is that because insanity is self-induced we are able to stop the carousel, changing the cycle as we are empowered by our loving Maker. He designed each of us with the tools to stop the insanity!
Each victory over triggers that pulled me onto the carousel of insanity replaces that emptiness with a new level of God’s love. My relationship with Him moves to a new level. The peace and understanding of how He orders my steps grows. The carousel fades more and more. Those short-lived exchanges of lashing out at others pale in comparison to my proximity to our loving Creator. Glory to God!
Before your carousel begins again, before your triggers raise their heads again, before that emptiness revisits you, stop the insanity! Take Inventory, ask God to help you to illuminate your heart with His word. Then Take Action upon what He shows you. Practice new habits, stop the insanity, life your best life!
“Lighting the path to loving your neighbor as yourself.”