Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Brain Filter

By now you all know I’m an OCD introvert at heart.  Sometimes I wish I could be spontaneous, make snap decisions, take action, live large, dangerous and free.  But then there are the times when I’m thankful for the filter part of my brain that carefully evaluates and assesses each thought before the action part of my brain kicks in.

Case in point…

I like to get to the gym early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to run.  There’s no noise, no one jockeying for position on the track, no kids sprinting around you; just soothing silence at 7:00 a.m.

I’m in the change room getting into my running gear  Tank top…check, shoes…check, sports bra…check, socks…check, running watch…check, shorts…  What, no shorts!  Frantic digging in backpack ensues.  The worst is confirmed.  No shorts!

I really don’t want to waste time driving home to get them. 

“Maybe I could run in my jeans.”  The brain filter wakes momentarily from its slumber to rule this out as way too restrictive. 
“I wonder if anyone would notice if I ran in my underwear.  There’s not a lot of people around.  It's no different than a two-piece bathing suit”

The brain filter, still on guard from the previous thought, quickly vetoes this unacceptable idea.  Inspiration strikes!  Superstore is two minutes away and they generally have inexpensive workout gear.

Fast forward ten minutes to Superstore’s deserted lady’s clothing department.  Who knew the women’s department isn’t staffed at 7:30 in the morning?  I stand shorts in hand, staring at the locked fitting rooms. 

“Maybe I could crawl underneath the door…” 

The brain filter, thoroughly appalled by the audacity of this thought, deems it necessary to take more serious preventative measures, conjuring up a mental image of WKRP’s, Herb Tarlek, in a carp suit trapped underneath the door of a pay toilet. 

I snicker involuntarily and glance around to make sure no one heard.  Fine, no crawling under doors.  (For those of you who have never had the pleasure of watching this particular hilarity you can view the WKRP episode at )

“What about just doing a quick change in the alcove by the fitting rooms?  The store’s relatively deserted, probably no one would even notice.” 

I glance furtively around the women’s department.  The brain filter takes swift evasive maneuvers and delivers up a brilliant HD image of me being hauled out of the alcove, half naked, by store security.  It’s not a pretty sight! 

Fine!  I surrender to the brain filter and walk the extra steps to the Customer Service desk to get a clerk to unlock a fitting room for me.

My brain filter has saved me from bad decisions on more than this occasion.  In fact it’s rescued me many times throughout my life.  But then there are the times when I’ve ignored the brain filter and regretted it later.  Some of those instances I’d rather forget!

The brain filter is a good thing.  It’s there so we don’t have to give in to every thought we have.  Isn’t it cool that God wired our brains this way?  We have choices and the brain filter helps us evaluate and choose between good and bad decisions.

You might know the brain filter by different names…

Will power

All of these things are inside of us.  We just have to exercise them. 

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13

What decision are you toying with today? 
  • Spending money you can’t afford
  • Stealing office supplies from work
  • Cheating on an exam
  • An emotional affair on Facebook
  • Cheating on your taxes

Whatever the temptation, there’s ALWAYS a way out.  Ask God to kick your brain filter into high gear.  Exercise self-control and will power.

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