‘Living in your own head’ can mean to be introspective but often times it means to overanalyze life even to the point of feeling self-critical. Too much second guessing ourselves.
There are certainly times when we need to reflect within ourselves, take stock of our lives, and see what needs to be done. And that soul searching needs to be done in love, not judgment. If we are to love others as ourselves, well, then, I guess we need to have an unconditional self-acceptance in order to be able to be healthy about loving others. And that can be a life’s work of maturation.
This is so true in the Christian life. Our view of God’s judgment and anger can lead to a lack of self worth. This might come from some bad parenting or even lack of success in some endeavor. We end up with a bad image of God thinking that we need to please God, achieve some great thing for God.
Self-flagellation is what it was called in early Christianity. It was practiced as a form of mortifying the flesh, inferred from some places in the Bible. In Romans 8 Paul writes: 13” for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Notice that Paul says ‘by the Spirit’. This is no directive to physically abuse oneself in some kind of effort towards purification. It is more meant as a means of subduing one’s earthly ways that are contrary to God’s will. If anger is my problem then I need to subdue it, not repress it. I need to name it and conclude that I am invited into a better way to live.
I think that’s the meaning of ‘repentance’. In some instances ‘repent’ might have to do with being sorry for sinful deeds but generally it means to be ‘changing one’s mind’ and even being ‘out of one’s mind’. Stop regurgitating the same ole way of living and believing and get out of your head and discover that the Kingdom of God has arrived and is here for God’s good purposes of defeating evil and bringing abundant life to God’s creation. That’s why Jesus says in Matthew 4:17, “Repent for the Kingdom of ‘Heaven’ (meaning God) is at hand.”
Let’s paraphrase that verse. “I invite you to change your way of thinking about life as a dead end and instead try to think outside your own mind into a new way of understanding that God’s eternal and unconditional love has come close in the person of Jesus. And this love will change your life.”
There is no need for self-belittling or self-incrimination. Rather this is an opening of our minds and hearts to receive the Father’s love. Even for those who haven’t had good fathers, this God is the father and perhaps mother that we have longed for.
And once we start thinking God’s thoughts, and having the mind of Christ, as Paul puts it in Philippians 2, we discover why God’s ways and God’s love manifested in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is a wonderful way to live. Not by rules but by a relationship. Then we will be in our right minds.