This entry is part 24 of 31 in the series The Hope Toolbox

Why You Need More Mental Flexibility

What is Mental Flexibility?

While physical flexibility is the ability to stretch and bend without injury, mental flexibility is the ability to switch thoughts or consider multiple aspects of a situation and withstand the stress.

Children and older adults have the toughest time with this. Picture a two year old throwing a tempter tantrum because their juice is in the red cup instead of his or her favorite blue one, or an older person who says no way are you teaching me how to work a computer, I’ve gotten by without one for 80 years!

Think about a tree in a storm. The roots are solid in the ground. If the tree is too stiff, the wind will snap the branches. But if the tree has some flexibility, it can bend and adapt to high winds and heavy rains.

You are the same way. When you have Christ in your life, your core is solid. Read what God says to us in Isaiah 61. The prophet Isaiah came spoke these blessings from God to the people in the Old Testament, and Christ brings them for us:

to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:2-3

We have been given so much! We are able to stand solid.

How mentally flexible are you? Are you stuck in some life patterns and habits? Are you stiff and unbendable? When difficult life storms come up, do you snap and pop under the first blow of a hard wind?

If you are cringing, you aren’t alone. All of us need to work on mental flexibility. It’s tough!

Mental flexibility means learning to let go of our plans for every day and trusting that our roots with God are solid. Change can be hopeful and positive, or it can be a forever source of stress.

You can increase you mental flexibility over time, making change less stressful. Consider this:

Ways to Increase Mental Flexibility

Trust God.

Above any other advice, the way to mental flexibility is to put your faith in God. From Isaiah 61:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;

Isaiah 61:1-2

If God can do all of that, he can take care of any life situation that comes your way.

Practice with little things.

Start practicing with little things before life throws a big curve ball your way. Can you change something in your routine and not freak out about it? What if you leave something undone?

Let other people in.

People who are mentally inflexible tend to stay closed off and do things themselves. After all, someone else might mess up the project or do it wrong! Allow someone else to take a turn planning the vacation or leading the team. It might not go the way you would have wanted it, but you just might discover there is benefit in the non-perfect way.

You Will Be Oaks Isaiah 61, Mental Flexibility

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Today’s Bible Verse:

to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3

Today’s Journaling Prompt:

How would you rate your mental flexibility on a scale of 1-10 (1 being very rigid and 10 being very flexible)? Do you want to change that number? How will you go about it?

Resources

5 Brain Exercises to Foster Flexible Thinking

Wikipedia: What is Cognitive Flexiblity

Big Think: Importance of Mental Flexibility

Busy Being Blessed: Surrender to Love

Busy Being Blessed: The One Where I Get Pushy About Jesus

Church Leaders: Podcast with Kay Warren: Erasing the Stigma of Mental Illness in the Church

Giving Up on Perfect: 31 Days of I’m Not Sorry

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