Sunday morning at church, every woman got a blank rectangle of paper.
During the message, our pastor, Dean, told us he wanted us to write the answers to two questions on our papers.
I grabbed a pen.
Dean asked us to write down what we believe about ourselves on our worst days. After a few minutes, he began to name some of the lies that many women believe about themselves.
I put my pen away.
I could not write down the lies, the ugly thoughts I have about myself on my worst days. I could not admit that those lies sneak into my thoughts even on some good days.
I will never be good enough. I am insignificant. I will never accomplish anything important. I can’t get anything right.
I know they’re lies. And I still listen to them, despite the fact that I know the truth.
Who I am is enough. I am valued and loved. I can make a difference. Who I am matters. I am good at what I do.
I know the truth and I listen to the lies, all at once.
Dean’s second question: What helps you stay focused on the truth on your best days?
I didn’t write that answer down either. I folded my paper in half and tucked it into my purse.
How do I stay focused on the truth?
More often than not, the truth and the lies co-exist for me: two halves of a whole, two sides of a coin.
I am confidence and insecurity, in the same moment.
Recently, I talked with my friend Guy Harris about the duality I experience related to self-confidence.
We stood on the sidewalk, soaking in the bright sun, and Guy said this:
It’s a choice. You can choose to believe and live what’s true.
Then he asked me, earnestly, if I would decide, once and for all, to choose to view myself in a positive way.
I teased him, told him it was a magical moment. The sunshine, the decision point.
I didn’t give him a clear-cut answer. I hesitated.
Here’s why: To stay focused on the truth, I need a hundred magical moments every day.
In the moments when those lies creep in, I have to decide, again and again to believe the truth.
It’s not a once-and-done decision. (I wish it were.)
Instead, I have to choose the truth again and again, moment by moment.
Tell me something! How do you stay focused on the truth? What has worked for you in overcoming negative thoughts about yourself? What will you do, today, to allow truth to win in your life?
I am the founder/CEO of the Weaving Influence team, the author of Reach: Creating the Biggest Possible Audience for Your Message, Book, or Cause, and the host of the Book Marketing Action Podcast. I’m a wife and mom of three kids, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, coffee, and dark chocolate.
“Accept things for how they are, not how you wish they were!” I find that removes the pain and frustration away from what you are not happy about and you are then in a position of power to move on. My actions may be “bad” in a given situation, but that does not make me a bad person.
The following is one of my favorite teaching stories. Jon Gordon used it in “The Energy Bus.” This version comes from Brook Noel’s blog on “Make Today Matter”:
An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me… it is a terrible fight and it is between two dogs.
One dog represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
“The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
“This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which dog will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied… “The one you feed.”
Feed the positive dog, and allow others to feed it for you when you feel you can’t. We are what we choose to believe about ourselves.
That’s a wonderful story, Angie. Thanks for reminding me it. Let me buil on Angie’s comment by suggesting some ways to feed the positive dog.
I know that you’re a praying person, so put thanksgiving at the top of every prayer. It will be a reminder of the blessings you have. And take time during every day to list three (or more) things you’re thankful for. That helps the attitude of gratitude that will help you stay balanced.
In the Marines we had Immediate Action drills for the things everyone had to do when we were, for example, ambushed. They’ve saved my physical life and the principle can help save an emotion moment. Forget the advice to “control your emotions.” You can’t do it. They will ambush you from time to time. You can’t control the emotions, but you can control what happens when they strike.
Do something that makes you smile. Read a note from someone who loves you or a thank-you note from a client or friend. I do that, but my most powerful immediate action is to play the “Happy Music” playlist on my iPod.
One more thing to try, tip your head back and smile. It’s almost impossible to feel down when you do.
Beautiful post Becky. Thank you.
I surround myself with people who speak truth into my life. I have to choose who will be the authority in my life: People who speak the truth to me, or people who speak lies, who speak the condemning, negative words? (And there are plenty of those.) I have to choose where I will set my mind: On the past or on the present. On who God says I am or on who my past mistakes says I am (was.)
What did I do today to focus on truth?
I read your post. :O)
And then I shared it on FB and Twitter so others can benefit from it.
Becky, this is a beautiful and sincere commentary on something we all experience. I think you have named the real truth – we choose our truth moment by moment. When it arises for me, I think of it as a broadcast from a radio station and I mentally change the channel. There’s no point in paying attention to that channel. I would like to add, however, that there is a difference between self-criticism and feeling genuinely sad or angry. We need to allow our feelings or they won’t resolve. Feel them, but don’t act them out.
This past year I started a mother/daughter club focused on teaching the girls to know who it is that God has created them to be. Over and over I kept stumbling across the fact that a lot of what I wanted them to understand, I didn’t fully accept myself. It wasn’t because I didn’t believe that what I was teaching was true, but that my own thoughts were not consistent with what I believed. Each time this happened I went to God in prayer and asked Him to help me see myself as He sees me. When I stop seeing myself as the authority on who I am and start seeing my Creator as the expert, then I am able to live out what I believe.