I’m just like everybody else.
For many years my natural tendency was to focus on the things that are *wrong* with me, or that I didn’t like about myself.
I always thought my nose was too big, I hated my profile, I always had to turn my head a certain way for the camera, my hair was too thin, I wouldn’t wear a bikini for years because my stomach wasn’t flat enough… the list went on.
I teach my 5 year old son that there are two wolves competing for attention and fuel in every area of our lives… a bad wolf and a good wolf. Whichever one you feed is the one that grows and the one that your life will reflect on the outside. I tell him that he can’t feed both at the same time, one will always be full and one will be hungry.
The more I thought about and FOCUSED on the things I disliked about myself, the stronger the wolf of insecurity, self-criticism, self-obsession, and negativity grew. The MORE I found that I didn’t like.
And guess what?
The more that I thought about and focused on ME. I went through life checking out my profile in reflective windows wondering if my butt looked huge or my stomach was sticking out. Instead of looking for opportunities to smile at strangers, I looked for opportunities to see if I really looked as bad as I was imagining myself to look in my head.
I obsessed about it. What I ate, what I said, what I did… it was almost all based on my outward view of myself.
I had forgotten that I was DESIGNED… not randomly, not by accident… but that God had DESIGNED me exactly the way I am, for a SPECIFIC purpose.
And the longer I would remain distracted by myself (by myself! The very thing that was created and designed specifically by my Creator!) the longer I would be kept from living out that very purpose.
The cycle was this:
Negative thought/self talk (You are gross, I can’t believe you wore this shirt it looks terrible) –>
Negative action to fuel thought (restrictive eating, excessive exercise, binging) –>
Negative reinforcement (guilt, remorse, self-hate) –>
More Negative thought (Yep, I knew you’d fail. You always do)
Have you ever been there? Do you ever catch yourself saying negative things to yourself and then act on them?
SO where do we cut it off?
We usually try to cut it off at the ACTION. We allow the negative thought, and then try to override the next natural step of negative action by trying to get into what we think is positive action.
So we jump on a crazy diet, we go to the gym and workout for 2 hours beating ourselves up mentally the whole time, we skip a meal and tell ourselves we deserve to starve for doing XYZ.
When “positive action” (trying to get healthy) is fueled by a NEGATIVE FIRE (I dislike myself and I am gross so I need to do something about it), it is no longer just a positive action. It cannot have a positive outcome if it is fueled by a negative fire.
The negative actions are the weeds. It’s the part that we SEE above the ground. The negative thought is the root system that grows out of control under the surface until the weeds take over the whole garden.
HEREIN LIES THE PROBLEM.
Just like a weed that will continue to grow and spread out of control, it needs to be cut off AT THE ROOT.
It needs to be ripped up, roots and all, and while you’re at it, dig up some of the extra ground around it, just in case.
You know what that will look like in your life?
You must counter your THOUGHTS. You must stop it at the MINDSET and BELIEF. By countering your negative thoughts, eventually you will change your MINDSET (you won’t think as many negative thoughts) and that will directly CHANGE YOUR BELIEFS about yourself. You will no longer believe that you are gross, and stupid, and least likely to succeed.
So how do we do it?
The most powerful way that I have found is by speaking TRUTHS over myself when a negative thought creeps in. It literally cuts it off. You begin to have a sense of when the root is developing before you even see it pop through the ground. You shove your hand into the earth and uproot that sucker before it even has a chance to show up in your life.
“I praise the Lord for I am FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY made!”
The funny thing about changing my belief about myself and my body… without any additional starving or exercise, my body started to improve.
More than it EVER had when it was my #1 focus.
I started fueling it the “right” way, because I cared about it. And it responded with energy, body fat loss, strength, and endurance.
I appreciate it now, and as a result, I just let it do it’s thing. I don’t obsess over what it’s doing anymore, because I trust it to do what it needs to do while I do what I need to do and care for it.
Now I can add value to people when I’m out because I’m not wasting time wondering if they noticed how my jeans flatten my butt 🙂 I fed the good wolf, so the good wolf grew, and the fruits of it can finally be seen.
Of course, life is never perfect, and once you master your mind in one area, the bad wolf and all of its negativity will try to creep in somewhere else.
In my life, the most common thoughts that creep in now are about self doubt about my big life mission and purpose. To give you some insight and transparency into my life and my mind (scary!).
Here is what the cycle looks like now:
NEGATIVE Thought: “Who do you think you are you? You can’t do that! You’ll never be able to accomplish that. No one cares about what you have to say!” –>
COUNTER THOUGHT “Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be STRONG, and COURAGEOUS! Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go!”–>
POSITIVE action (do something productive towards the seemingly “too big” goal) –>
POSITIVE reinforcement (feeling awesome that the negative thought is gone, and now I feel like I can do anything because I know it’s not on my own strength and it’s not for myself) –>
POSITIVE thought (I wonder if we can try to…..*new bigger goal*)
Now you have changed the course and direction of your habitual thought process.
Will another negative thought come in again? ABSOLUTELY.
But when you are in the habit of immediately COUNTERING those negative thoughts ACTIVELY, you shut them down and turn the wheel in another direction. The more you do this, the more positive thoughts you have, and the harder it is for the negative ones to sneak in there.
And when they do, you’ll be ready.
What are some TRUTHS that you believe about yourself that you can memorize? Even if you have ONE defense at the ready when the negative thoughts sneak in.
FEED THE GOOD WOLF!
Personally, I use scripture because I believe that what the Bible says about me is absolutely true. If you agree, here are some incredible scriptures that you can use the next time something sneaks in and tries to lie to you about who you are.
Remember that you’re not doing yourself any favors by believing the negative lies, and you are CERTAINLY not doing anyone else any favors by staying focused on yourself and not living out the purpose that YOU were designed to live!!
Quote it, believe it, move forward!
PS. Here are a few of my faves!! xoxo
Romans 8:37 “…In all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him who loved us.”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged; for the Lord your God will be with you WHEREVER you go!”
John 16:33 “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but TAKE HEART for I have overcome the world!”
2 Cor 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.