Friday, April 20, 2012

What's Behind Your Mask?

     In my last blog, I wrote about negative self talk which comes from feelings of low self worth.  Low self-worth can make you feel less important than others, make you seek other things to ease the pain of not feeling valued, and could make you become an approval addict which puts a strain on any type of relationship.  Low self worth comes from repeated rejection which creates more low self worth.   Have you ever or do you have feelings of abandonment, uselessness, worthlessness, being unloved, unwanted, or not being accepted? We hide what we are really feeling to keep out emotional pain and sometimes we don’t realize that we’re doing it. Do you have low self worth?  Yes, maybe, no?  Let’s explore and see if you’re right.  You might discover that there are some of those feelings hidden in a corner of your heart that is eager to be discovered and set free.  

      Have you ever worn a mask?  Maybe you have for a party, event, holiday, or the stage.  Think about the purpose of the mask.  It is used, by definition, to conceal one’s identity or is used for protection.  Think about the goalie in an energetic Hockey game, or the fire fighter protecting his face and lungs from a raging fire.  Think about the dental chair.  When you’re sitting there, be thankful that the staff wears the face masks.  It keeps airborne yucky things away from you like all of the bacteria that spray up in the air when they are scaling your teeth or rinsing.  If they are not careful with some patients, they could contract Hepatitis B or HIV just to name a couple of harmful diseases.  In the classic Phantom of the Opera, he wore a mask to conceal his face.  When we have low self worth, our negative behaviors become our masks; our protective covering that conceals emotional pain.
     What are the negative behaviors associated with low self worth?  You just read about the emotions but what about the behaviors?  The purpose of this blog page is to promote change but we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge and we can’t acknowledge something that we can’t see.  So let’s answer a few questions very honestly and see if we can discover any hidden issues of low self worth. 
Ø  Do you hear yourself using negative self talk?
Ø  Are you described as being a workaholic?
Ø  Impressed with status symbols and often live beyond income?
Ø  Overly competitive, can’t stand to lose?
Ø   Seeking approval and envious of important people?
Ø   Constantly seeking recognition?
Ø   Have things perfect or yourself perfect, described as a perfectionist?
Ø  Addicted to substances, sex, food, drugs, or (fill in the blank)?
Ø  Use intimidation to get what you need or want, anger problems?
Ø  Impress others with financial extravagance?
Ø  Get upset if you don’t get your way?
Ø  Obsessed with having certain possessions?
Ø  Get offended easily, overly sensitive?
Ø  Do you say yes when you should say no?
Ø  Are you easily manipulated or follow people of bad influence?
Ø  Do you find yourself trying to impress others?
Ø  When someone isn’t friendly to you, does it hurt your feelings or disturb you
Ø  Do you pay close attention to how others respond to you to avoid the pain of rejection?
Ø  Are you a loner?
Ø  Do you avoid situations with new people because you believe they will not accept you or judge your character which will lead to rejection?

     Did you see any behaviors that describe you?  Remember to be very honest with yourself.  Nobody can hear your thoughts as you read the list.  It’s between you and God who wants to heal you in this area so you can walk in the peace and freedom He desires for you.  I remember a situation years ago when my family was on their way to a very big family reunion.  It was the first time in many years that we had all seen each other which included great uncles, great aunts, second and third cousins.  This was an important time in the history of our family.  My older sister, about 17 years old, received a phone call from work just as we were literally walking out of the door.  I was very upset when she decided to go to work, which was an option, instead of putting family first.  Why did she do that?  Her acceptance was based on performance.  She needed to impress her boss to feel needed and valued. Through the years, she was always known as the workaholic in our family and I don’t know if she really realized how badly it affected us.  The message we received was that WE didn’t matter or hold much value to her.  Her choice to avoid rejection from her boss only led to rejection from the family.  So the irony of it all is that our negative behaviors to avoid rejection breed more rejection because we hurt others around us thus causing us more emotional pain.  It becomes a snow ball effect and just gets bigger and more damaging if we don’t get control of it.

     Next week, I will continue this topic and give you some tools that will help change the negative behaviors that mask the pain of rejection and feelings of worthlessness, that you don’t matter, or that question your value. Be encouraged that change can occur.  If you are living and breathing today, then you can gain control and make the positive changes you desire.  Know that God loves you and receives you just as you are.  You are his kid and He will go out of His way to help you grow and live in peace.  Remember, He believes that you were worth dying for.

I John 3:1 ~ See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are.”

I would appreciate some feedback in the comment box below.  Let me know what you are thinking.  You don’t have to open an account to leave a comment and if you want your name to remain anonymous, just write anonymous or a fictitious name. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Power In Your Words

     Do you realize how powerful words are?  God spoke this world into existence. Adolph Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr. changed the world with their words.  Adolph used his words for evil and destruction.  Martin Luther used his for peace and to bring about good.  Both men had many followers because they called them to action with what?  With their words.

     Today, I want to speak about negative self talk. It is very damaging to our self worth and affects how we respond to others and situations.  Let me ask you this.  If somebody called you an idiot, stupid, or said, "I wish you were never born, I hate you," how would you feel?  Take a moment to really tap into your emotion here.  Would you get offended, cry, or angry enough to want to punch them out?  Then why do you say it to yourself?  It is as equally hurtful regardless.  Quit saying, "Oh man, I am so stupid.  I am such an idiot.  I am so ugly. I wish I was never born.  I am so fat, I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror."  You are training your brain to accept these images and therefore will not feel the need to do anything to correct it.

     Your mind is so powerful, what you think will take control of your life.  First we think then the thought becomes an action.  For instance, we think, "Put on my shoes."  Then we grab our shoes then put them on.   A bulimic or anorexic can look in a mirror, be skin and bones, and still believe they are fat.  But the reality is that they are very thin and dying. Their perception is ruling their brain and they continue to be destructive because of their belief.  I have a cousin who fought anorexia as a child and still struggles somewhat today.  Back when I was just 12, I remember her only meal as being a Snickers candy bar and a bottle of coke.  When her health deteriorated, she ended up in the hospital.  And I will never forget weeks later when she showed me her bones, looked in my mirror, and stated that she wanted to lose more weight because she was fat!  What was in the mirror was a dying girl who saw loose skin and no muscle tone.  Understand that any  kind of negative self talk will have the same affect on you.  You will begin to believe what you are saying just like the anorexic, you will have a distorted view of yourself and you will act on those beliefs.

      Many years ago at age 9,  I overheard a conversation my mother was having with a few family members  that was very hurtful.  When I entered the room, I heard, “When I found out I was pregnant with Vonnie, I cried.”  Vonnie is my nickname.  My heart sunk to my stomach and I felt sick.  I began to breathe fast and could feel physical pain in my heart.  Back in the early 70’s many of us weren’t encouraged to talk about our feelings with our parents like the generations today so with much pain, I went to my room, curled up in a fetal position, and cried.  I believed that I was not wanted or loved.  This was my thought, my perception which became my belief for many years.   The truth of the matter is that my mother was a military wife living hundreds of miles from family.  She had twins that were not quite 3 months old when a window slammed down on her two wrists breaking them.  At the hospital, she discovered she was pregnant with me.  She had reached this point of her story when I heard,  “When I found out I was pregnant with Vonnie, I cried.”  So because of my belief and negative self talk of not being lovable,  I lived life destructively as I got older.  The consequences of my choices brought about a difficult life and more pain.  I will share more of these stories in my future blogs.

     June Hunt, a wonderful author on negative emotions, encourages us to change our world with our words.  You can make changes today this very second because you are living today.  And every day is an opportunity to move forward in a positive direction to embrace new thoughts and beliefs about yourself.

     Some positive changes you can make are replacing the negative self talk with something that you want your brain to believe.  Write down what you hear yourself saying then replace it with something positive.   This will change your thinking and self image.  Critical step, you need to hear yourself saying it out loud. So instead of saying, “Do they make that in big boy sizes?”  Say, “Do they make that in larger a size?”   Instead of, “I’m so fat.  I’m disgusted with myself.”  Say, “Today is a great day and I’m going to eat healthy and make good choices.”   Stop saying, “What in the world was I thinking?  I’m such a dummy.”  Replace that with, “What in the world was I thinking?  Oh well, I’ll do better next time.”  And if you tell yourself that you are not acceptable because of something you don’t like about your appearance, don’t say those negative things about it anymore.  Quote this instead, “I am a beautiful person full of God’s forgiveness and love.  I love as He has loved me and I forgive as he has forgiven me.  Other scriptures you can use for changing your thinking and self image are:
            I am accepted in the beloved.    Ephesians 1:6 
            I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.   Ephesians 2:10
            I am the apple of my Father’s eye.   Deut 30:10  and  Psalms 17; 10
            I am the beloved of God   Gal 3:12rom 1:7  and   I Thessalonians 1:4

     I’d like to close with something else I learned from June Hunt. I will paraphrase.  Your true worth is not based on anything you have done or will do, but on what Jesus has already done.  The Heavenly Father established your worth over 2000 yrs ago when Jesus died on the cross.  That very moment, He established your worth forever.  He believed that YOU were worth dying for!

       Remember these words as you celebrate the Easter Holiday.  YOU are so loved by the maker of the universe, who spoke the world into being, that he believes that YOU were worth dying for.  So hold your head up high, stop beating yourself up with negative self talk and start seeing yourself the way He sees you by replacing the damaging words with words that encourage and build you up. 

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Next Week: Continue Self Worth and Negative Self Talk

John 15:13