I caught myself from slipping today. A coworker shared with me that a couple of other coworkers had some critical, negative things to say about me. I put up a strong, exterior wall, but I must admit that for a moment, I found myself on the defensive and, in a strange, twisted way, giving credence to the negativity in my own mind. Then, just as quickly as I recognized the thoughts, I was reminded of who I am and the bold steps I am taking to reclaim my life. And all of sudden, it became easier to push those opinions exactly where they belong: outside of me.
One of the things I have recently admitted to myself is that I internalize way too much other people’s opinions of me. What’s crazy, though, is that if the opinion is negative, I really take it to heart (i.e., “Wow, that stung, but I must have done something to deserve that”), and if the opinion is good, I don’t fully trust it (i.e., not being able to accept a compliment). From people I love and respect, I want their validation for the desires of my heart, and if I don’t get it, I’m paralyzed with inaction to please them, even if they have never actually expressed their inclinations for my life. It’s a strange, stress-inducing place to dwell and completely unhealthy.
Vowing to stop has been easy because making a vow to do something later doesn’t really require action right now. For me, this has been a cop out for way too long. Actually acting out the vows of stopping negative self talk or internalizing external opinions about myself means being brave.
But being brave has been hard for me recently, and I realize that deciding to act means that I need to arm myself for the battle. It has been years that I have been living lies about myself. My battle plan: I’m reading a ton of Scripture, watching sermons online, praying, reciting mantras, meditating, and fussing at myself in my inner dialogue to get it together, own my own truth, and do me as authentically and amazingly as God made me. I believe this is what gave me the discernment today to recognize the trap, and I am so proud of myself and grateful to God for the climb out before I completely fell.
My pastor talked Sunday about the power unconfessed, and even unrecognized, sin has in our lives, and at the moment of his sermon, I did not fully understand how it related to my current situation. Today, though, I see so clearly how negativity (from myself or internalizing it from others) is a sin because if I am spending this much mental energy on it, I necessarily am not spending time in worship and service to God. Without acknowledging it as sin, I am allowing myself to exist in a perpetual state of inaction through second guessing, confusion, and rationalization. Because I now recognize it as sin, I cannot just sit back and keep doing it if I want the growth and destiny God has for me. It, quite frankly, has to go. Most importantly, though, God has equipped me with the tools to push it out of my life if I just have faith and am steadfast.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10: 13, NIV)