What Stands Against Us? (continued)
The Cycle of Self-Doubt
I have written on this topic before, but because I continue to struggle with it, and because many people close to me struggle with it, I will write on it some more. We are very literally our own worst enemies when it comes to doubting ourselves and holding ourselves back. Self-doubt works in a cycle and can completely shut down any potential for growth and productivity in our practical and spiritual lives. It is important to understand the cycle, so that you can identify it when it begins and stop it. The origins of the self-doubt can be endless and very personal. Because they are so individualized it’s impossible to cover that here, but we each have a pretty good idea where our own self-doubt stems from. Keep in mind, though, that just because the origin of the doubt is real, does not mean the doubt itself is valid or legitimate. If your father mocked you as a child for being chubby, it does not mean you really are less worthy as an individual. If your boss constantly berates you for incompetence, does it really mean you are in fact incompetent? Your true self is defined by your relationship with Christ. If you want to see your true self, you find it in prayer and in scripture. 1 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
The scripture is literally a mirror that will reflect back our true self. If there are changes that need to be made you will be informed of those in prayer, in meditation, in scripture, not in hateful criticism from your boss, spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, co- worker or neighbor.
The cycle of self-doubt happens in four parts.
- Failure- Failure can be either real or projected. You need to know the difference. Real failure is when you attempt something and fall short of your goal. This is crushing and can begin the cycle of self-doubt. But real failure is good for us because it is a learning opportunity. You do not wallow in your failure, you learn from it. Therefore, it becomes a blessing. Projected failure is NOT a blessing. Projected failure is when SOMEONE ELSE makes you FEEL like a failure over something that you have no control over. But this criticism, this unfounded, misinformed, ridiculous criticism can still make a person spend years doubting themselves. The same goes for all kinds of issues that are perhaps out of your control such as your size, physical appearance, the family you come from, physical limitations, illness. You absolutely must learn to discern between a real failure and failure that someone is projecting onto you. Learn a lesson from real failure. Dismiss projected failure as a character flaw in the person who is projecting it onto you.
- Defeat- When we begin to sense failure (whether real or projected) we begin to feel defeat. Defeat is disappointment that we do not plan to get over. We will not learn a lesson from this real failure. We will believe in the projected failure that others are slinging at us. Defeat is irrational and un-realistic. When you enter this state of mind you begin to believe things about yourself that have no scriptural basis. You begin to believe unrealistically negative things about yourself and the world in general.
- Apathy- After defeat comes a sense of apathy. Apathy means, “Absence or suppression of passion, emotion, or excitement.” You simply do not care. Apathy leads to an attitude of doing the bare minimum, because a bare minimum of effort equals a bare minimum of failure and defeat. The less you attempt the less you can fail at.
- Continued Failure- The less you attempt the more you will feel and perceive yourself as a failure.
The cycle of self-doubt can be stopped at any level when we use the word of God to halt it in its tracks. If you have actually failed at something: learn a lesson from it and try again. If someone is projecting failure on you, declare as the apostle Paul did, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Do not let anyone belittle God’s marvelous creation in you. Dismiss unfounded projected failure. If you have become apathetic, release it in repentance before God, because it is sin. With God all things are still possible.
Next time we’ll look at the curse of modern man that stands against all of us in one form or another: laziness! Think you don’t have a problem with laziness? You’ll be surprised the different forms laziness can manifest itself.