I know I am not alone when I confess that my mind can be a real huge mess! This mind of mine will convince me that if I think over something enough, I can fix it or manage it! It feels horrible to be lost in ones own thoughts, especially when they are negative. Many people suffer from this and the mental health community calls it RUMINATION. The perpetual influx of such negative thinking does affect your perspective on people and circumstances. Even more than that, it affects your emotional and physical health.
When you are hurting from rejection, lies, perfectionism, disparaging comments, loneliness, stress, the past, or feelings of not being good enough, what do you do? What is your go to method of dealing with life’s inevitable disappointments or failures in your own life? As I shared above, I had convinced myself that thinking about it over and over again might help or fix it. It has never worked. Overthinking something without action, follow-up, or actual communication will keep you in the loop of your own thoughts.
What about how you view yourself? Has the thought ever occurred to you that how you see yourself deeply drives your response to life’s disappointments? For me, I know that when I have not felt good enough my responses to things would be defensive at best, but at the worst moments you convince yourself you don’t deserve any better. It is unfortunate that I spent that time beating myself up due to the actions of others. If I could just do…..If I could just be….If I could….Then I WOULD BE GOOD ENOUGH! WRONG! I was so wrong!! When you know who you are you don’t have to tell others WHO YOU ARE. And when you know WHOSE you are, it all comes into focus.
In order for me to believe that God thinks about me is true, I had to understand that I will never be perfect. It is crucial to understand that mistakes and failures will happen. But before you are caught in the grip of perfectionism, GET UP! I know it is all easier said than done. If I know who I am, I don’t have to tell you or prove it. Why? If I am who I think I am, my actions will show it, and my spoken responses will also give insight into who I am. If I say I love but I am always putting you down, would you believe that I loved you? Would you consider me kindhearted? My guess is, no, you would discern that I was critical or just mean and did not love you.
So how do you talk to yourself? I am going to list some questions below and I challenge you to do a self-check.
- Do you constantly overthink?
- How do you view yourself?
- Do you think that your actions reveal how you see yourself?
- When you look in the mirror, do you like or love what you see?
- Do you replay the rejections you have experienced? Losses? Failures? Harsh Words? Lies?
- Do you often think about your fears? What are you afraid of? (It is probably similar to what we have already reviewed.)
- How do you describe yourself?
- How do you receive compliments?
- How do you receive critique?
Whether you view yourself higher or lower than others, it is rooted in insecurity. Insecurity usually comes from a trauma like being abandoned, abused, bullied, or believing you are not good enough. Maybe it was rejection in love or from a parent. Maybe it was experiencing death too soon in your life that it felt like abandonment. Maybe it is finding out that you had different birth parent(s)! Circumstances too often thwart how we see ourselves and others. Sometimes your life has been altered because you were collateral damage in someone else’s war. Perhaps, life has shaped you to feel insecure.
I have experienced a lot of these circumstances just like you. If you have trusted others, you have probably experienced betrayal. If you have ever loved, you have probably experienced heartache. Perhaps as a kid, we either felt safe or afraid, loved or abused, praised or put down, spoiled or ignored, disciplined or punished, you get the picture. Our experiences shape our perspective on people, circumstances, and our own self-view. But what if you are a Christian? Here are some questions for anyone who is in Christ:
- Do you believe God loves you?
- Do you believe what God has said about you through His Word?
- Are you overly concerned about how others view you or talk about you? (Is it the opinion of others what matters most to you? Or do you not care at all, like zero thoughts about what others think? (We tend to deal in extremes as a reaction to what life throws at us.)
- Do you concern yourself on how you make others feel with your words or actions?
- Ask the same question to yourself: Do you concern yourself with how you feel when thinking negative thoughts?
- Do you constantly feel guilty?
- Do you ever truly feel free?
Look at the word picture at the beginning of this post then look at the one below. I used a lemon image for the negative thoughts, pun intended! People trapped in trapped in negative thinking do usually have a bitter look on their face. In contrast, I used the infinity symbol filled with positive words to visualize God’s love for us.
Being a former overthinker, I can attest that changing HOW you think will help you change WHAT you think! Even more so, it will change your perspective! Friends and family would warn me upon learning bad or sad news not to get lost in my mind and stay there. They knew me well. The NEWEST me no longer uses that coping strategy. I still criticize myself at times, but I am no longer in the perpetual loop of my former desperate mind. When something has pierced my heart or I am overly concerned about the opinions of others, I take it to Philippians 4:8!
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Now back to rumination and how we think: Rumination usually includes negative repetitive thinking over something, someone, or a feeling about oneself. So, how can that be changed? First of all, it does not have to be negative! What if you applied the command in Philippians 4:8 to all things possible? What if you applied it to yourself regarding your own self-talk? I sense a transformation in the works!!! Second, you should only concern yourself about what God has to say about you! As a Christian, you do need to believe what He thinks of you! He longs to prosper you and give you hope, peace, love, and the deepest desires of your heart!!! Finally, I think it is possible to get there quickly when you spend time in His Word, repeat the positive verses that speak to your soul, memorize and cling to them!
Beginning with Philippians 4:8, apply the words to every thought regarding yourself, especially to those which develop an unhealthy self-talk! Is it true what you say about yourself? Is it Noble? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it admirable? No? Then if anything you say about yourself is excellent or praiseworthy, think about those things!!
Next, I challenge you to look up and list Bible verses that proclaim God’s love and thoughts about His people. Finally, meditate upon those verses and allow His love to become so engrained that your mind is beautifully transformed with a Holy Rumination!
My prayer is that you will truly love yourself and recognize that YOU ARE THE ONE WHOM JESUS LOVES! (That is a clue regarding the next scheduled post!)
In His Love, Rachele Beckwith