A recent study undertaken by researchers from the London-based University College concluded that repetitive negative thinking could be a risk factor for dementia.
In their study, the researchers followed 300 older people for a period of two years, tracking their response to negative situations in their life. They particularly focussed their attention on “repetitive” negative thinking where you rehash situations or particular thoughts in your mind again and again. They also tracked how much these individuals worried.
In addition, the researchers did brain scans on 113 members of the study group to determine if two proteins, amyloid and tau, were accumulating in their minds. These are known contributors to Alzheimer.
The researchers concluded from their study that four years later people with high rates of negative repetitive thinking had higher accumulations of the tau and amyloid in their brain and as well were showing a greater cognitive decline than those who weren’t as negative.
There was a noticeable decline in just four years.
Speaking on behalf of the research group, Dr. Gael Chételat said:
“Our thoughts can have a biological impact on our physical health which may be positive or negative.”
And of course, from a Biblical perspective how we think is a major focus of the Apostle Paul. Perhaps his most in depth discussion of our thought life is found in 2 Corinthians, where Paul states:
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not [a]carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NKJV)
In these verses we see two critical things, first he says that we are empowered to destroy fortresses. But the Greek word for fortress, ouhuroma, has an interesting twist to it. Yes, it refers to massive fortresses which provide protection against attacking enemies, but the word was also used in that day to describe prisons, keeping people from getting out.
And when we move into verse five, Paul begins to talk about our thought life and based on this, we understand that the fortresses he was referring to in the previous verse was the fortresses or prisons in our mind.
We are prisoners to our thought life, and we need to break the real you out of this prison.
Then in verse five, Paul tells us how. He says that we need to cast down arguments or as other versions read imaginations or speculations. We need to throw those thoughts out of our mind that are keeping us imprisoned.
Arguments speak of the endless cycle of negative thinking where we focus on how bad things are, and how it will only get worse, as we invariably fixate on the worst case scenario.
Other bad thinking is stating on how much of a failure you are or how stupid you are. How you will never amount to anything. It is the negative self-talk that many of us do, sometimes verbally.
It can also involve chronic worrying, and I love how some Bible versions describe them as imaginations, because much of worry is exactly that. They are fake.
One study showed that 91% of the things we worry about do not come to pass. In other words over 91% of our worries are imaginations, they are not real. It’s over 91% because of the 9% that did come to pass, most of those were not as bad as the people thought they would be or were easier to handle than they expected.
After casting down imaginations, we need to take every thought captive. We need to take captive our captors. Only by throwing the prison guards in jail, can you be truly free.
We need to take control our thought life.
This means when you find your mind thinking negative or worrying thoughts you need to stop thinking about it. You need to start thinking about something else. You need to purposefully change your thinking.
Paul says that we have been given mighty weapons to do just that. Yes, we can have negative thoughts pop into our mind, but we don’t have to continue thinking about them. The Holy Spirit will help break you free from your thought prison.
So take captive dementia.