I’m Diana Swillinger, and this is the Renew Your Mind podcast. Episode Number 11, Focus On the Right Whatevers. Welcome to The Renew Your Mind podcast.
DIANA: Hey. Hey. How are you all doing today? I’m good. You know it, right? I’m always good. Not always, but I love coming to show up and record these for you. So I’m really good right now. Every time I sit down and record this, I think of you and what might be most helpful to you. So I really love doing this. It’s Memorial Day as I’m recording this. I was going to record it tomorrow, Tuesday. That’s the day I put it live. But I was invited to coach at a two day virtual workshop all day Tuesday and Wednesday.
So I am happy to spend a little of my Memorial Day making this recording for you. Memorial Day is a sentimental holiday to me, yes, because I do have some people in my family that were part of the military. But also, Memorial Day weekend is historically a family weekend for me. Every week growing up, I would be at his lake house, and as an adult, I always went out there over the holiday with my kids. At least one of the days over the weekend, and we’d watch my dad sail and grill out, and it felt like we’d ring in the summer and we were with him at his lake.
So my dad passed away a couple of years ago, and now each Memorial Day, I do feel grief and I feel sentimental, but I also feel really grateful for all the years I had with him. I feel joyful about that, and I’m at peace. So it’s all there today. I have a little bit of an emotional schmorgishborg going on, but that’s okay. It all kind of works together. That’s how it goes. Anyway.
Today’s topic, we’re going to be focusing on the right whatevers and how to focus on the right whatevers, which I’m going to explain shortly. But first, I’ll just mention that this topic I picked for this week because it’s a follow up to last week where I introduced my coaching tool, the coaching tool that asks three questions what do you think? What do you feel? And what do you do? And I mentioned how that formula has come from cognitive behavioral therapy, which came out in the last 100 years or so. Um, at least that’s when it really gained momentum. But that’s not the first place I saw it.
I have the honor of speaking at Christian women’s conferences and mom’s groups and women’s groups. It’s one of my favorite things to do. And when I do go speak, the main thing I talk about is how to unstuck your brain and stop sabotaging yourself from having the life you want. Basically, I’m teaching the tool. But I don’t always lay it out the same way I did in last week’s podcast. Usually I’m teaching it by talking about Philippians four. Paul writes a letter to the church in Philippi and he’s teaching them how to renew their minds. Basically, he’s teaching them how to unstuck their brains. I don’t know if that was his purpose, but it really looks that way to me.
He tells us in verse four the right whatevers to think about. So let me tell you what it says. Fix your thoughts on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Why does Paul need to tell us this? He’s probably telling us this because when we think about the right whatevers, we’re going to experience more contentment, more gratitude, more hope, more joy, and more peace. All the things we all want. And that’s great, right? But that’s not the full answer. Why does Paul need to tell us the right whatevers to think about? Paul needs to spell this out for us.
Because if we are not intentional about where we direct our minds, he knows that left to our own devices, we’re going to be thinking about the wrong things, the wrong whatevers. We’ll be thinking about whatever isn’t right, whatever is broken, whatever’s uncertain, whatever’s unwanted, whatever is causing pain. Our minds really like to focus on the wrong whatevers. Our M minds really like to think about those things. Have you noticed? Paul is writing this because we need to be directed to think differently. We need to have this opportunity to grow in our emotional maturity. This is how we grow in our character. This is a part of our journey of becoming more like Christ. So we have these amazing brains. And Paul knows that left on their own, they’re going to be thinking about the problems too much. God gave us incredible problem solving brains. They’re like supercomputers. For example, this stuff is too hard to move. The brain goes to work. I got it. Let’s make a wheel. They make two wheels. Put on a platform. We got a wagon. Problem solved. This building is too hot. The brain. HM. There must be a way to cool it off. Boom. Now we have air conditioning. The oxen cart ride is taking too long. AHA. Uh huh.
Let’s solve the problem. We’ll invent a car. Our M brains are so incredible. Think of all the things, all the problems that have been solved by our brains. They want to fix things. And this is a really good thing. But if we aren’t directing our brain, it’ll just scan for problem after problem after problem to meditate on. And unless we’re thinking about that problem because we’re actively considering solutions, we’re just stuck dwelling on the negative. When we focus on the wrong whatevers, this is what we get. We feel anxiety, discontentment, victimhood, or self pity or stress, or overwhelm, you name it. We’re good at producing this stuff by meditating on the junk. My own brain used to be really good at focusing on what was broken and what it didn’t like and what it could do better.
Every morning, I would wake up with a pit in my stomach. Like I was immediately on it. Something was wrong, and it would come right to the forefront of my brain. And then even if there was a day when I woke up feeling fine, guess what? My brain did. Hold on. There’s got to be a problem to solve. Something’s not right here. There must be a problem. Something’s wrong. What is it? And I’d always find something. Even if the normal stuff was going fine, my job was fine, family was fine, money was fine, whatever. My brain would think of something else. Oh, the fence needs to be replaced. Oh, yeah, that’s right. How much is that going to cost? We have to go to the store. When are we going to have time to go to the store? What if we can’t fit it in our budget? We don’t know how to solve this yet. This is a problem.
I’m going to have to stew on this all day and be alert and feel worried and overwhelmed. And I would add to it, we’re out of milk. I’m going to have to find time to go to the grocery store. My son’s struggling in his class. That’s a problem. He’s got to get better grades. I’ll find anything but worrying on this stuff and stewing about it and meditating on the wrong whatevers, it never fixed anything. It just was a way to make me feel icky. I must have felt useful. Like, if I just feel crappy all the time and think about all the problems, maybe I’ll get better at solving them.
But it never did that. I just felt icky all the time. Or if I did solve a problem, there’d be another one. So I’ve trained my brain. It still wants to look for problems, and that’s okay. When I find problems, I’m like, okay, am I the one to solve this or not? If I’m not, what good is it to worry about it? Or if I am the one to solve it, okay, I’ll put it on my list of things to consider, uh, on my to do list or whatever. But I don’t need to just pack my brain with problems. It’s going to find the problems it does. That’s what our supercomputer brains do. We find what’s wrong because our brain wants to go to work and fix it. But if it’s not my problem to solve, it’s not useful for me to dwell on it. I have the opportunity to fill my brain with the right whatever. It’s like Paul tells us to do whatever’s good whatever’s lovely whatever is admirable. Think on these things.
And then let’s go back to Philippians four. Then after you think about the right things, then it’s about what you get to feel. Paul tells us in verse twelve that he has learned to be content in any and every circumstance. Wait, what? Paul learned to be content in any and every circumstance, even when Paul was in jail, even if there’s a war, even if there’s a pandemic, even when my dad dies, whatever it is, it’s possible to learn to be content in any and every circumstance. How? Paul just told us in verse eight, focus on the right whatevers. .
But wait, there’s more. In verse 13. This is one of the most famous verses. Paul says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. But that came after he focused on the right whatevers and after he experienced feeling content regardless of the circumstance, then he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him. It’s at that point, then I am sufficient. Then I am fulfilled. Then I’m able and capable and ready to do all the amazing things. Because I thought about the right whatevers. Because I thought about the right whatevers, I could feel content and strong and confident and at peace. This is basically the tool I shared with you all last week.
The circumstance didn’t matter for Paul in jail. Jail was neutral. It wasn’t good or bad unless he had a thought to try to make it good or bad. But he didn’t. That’s not where he put his brain to work. He put his brain on thinking about the right whatevers. If I could just wrap this up into a little nutshell with those three questions from the tool. What did he think? What did he feel? What did he do? What did Paul think? God is good. What did he feel? Content. What did he do? He was obedient to God. I mean, there’s a lot more wrapped up in that, right? He had more thoughts, more emotions, and more came out of that. But when you focus on the right whatevers, you get to influence and direct how you feel and you get access to the contentment, the peace and the joy and the hope that you want so much. This is how we renew our minds. Focus on the right whatevers.
So I’m going to leave you with that verse. I really don’t feel like I need to say anything more this week. If you didn’t listen to episode ten on Solving Problems, go back and listen to that. It goes really nicely with this one. So I’m just going to end by rereading Philippians four eight from the New Living translation, and I will talk to you all next week. Fix your thoughts on whatever is true, whatever is honorable whatever is right, whatever is pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
As an advanced certified life coach, I help Christian women trying to live their best lives, but they still feel unsatisfied and stuck. I teach thought management skills that work m so you can enjoy life again and step into who God has created you to be. Don’t forget to head on over to R Ympodcast m.com to get my free resources or a free coaching.