The Peripheral Nervous System

Please refer to the diagram in yesterday’s blog. The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system, and stemming from that is a peripheral nervous system, which has two different channels. One is the somatic nervous system, and the other is the autonomic nervous system. The somatic nervous system is what regulates all our muscular and skeletal movements. It is what we have direct volitional control over. It correlates with our will. By choice we can move our arms and legs, and speak at will.

The autonomic nervous system is what regulates all our glands. We don’t consciously tell our hearts to beat, or our glands to secrete hormones into our blood stream. We don’t have direct volitional control over those functions. I believe that correlates with our emotions. We cannot directly change how we feel. If there is someone we don’t like, we can’t just say, “From now on I am going to like that person.” We can decide to love them, but that is not the same as liking them. To love someone is to do what is right on behalf of the other person whether you feel like it or not. Feelings will often change in response to what we choose to think and do.

Such reasoning is the basis for cognitive behavioral therapy. People are doing what they are doing, and feeling what they are feeling because of what they have chosen to believe and think. Therefore, if you want to change how people feel and what they do, you need to help them change what they think and believe. Being created in the image of God, we have the capacity to think and make choices, and that is how we can bring about positive changes in our lives. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds, not by our feelings. We are saved and sanctified by what we believe.

The apostle Paul wrote, Finally, brothers (and sisters), whatever is true,whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Phil. 4:8,9). In other words, live the truth by doing what is honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. It begins with what you choose to believe, but it has to be lived out if you want to experience the God of peace.

Dr. Neil

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