Tag Archive | criticism

The Order part 2

 

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

A Little Deeper

Read- Matthew 14:23-31
Power verses- Proverbs 3:5-6
My two year old daughter stood hesitantly on the shore, the Gulf Coast waters inches away from her feet. “I’m scared,” she says adamantly. “It’s okay,” her aunt coaxes, “just take one step.” Her tiny feet take one baby step. “Okay,” says Aunt Nikki, “now just a little deeper.” She takes another step and another while trustingly holding her aunt’s hand. “A little deeper, now a little deeper.” In a few moments my brave little girl is triumphantly standing waist deep in the shallow water. “I’m in! I’m in!” she shouts and does a sweet toddler dance of victory. How often have I cheated myself from that same feeling of victory because I am too scared to follow Jesus out a little deeper? How often have I chosen to stay up on the shore of insecurity? Our insecurities make so much sense to us, don’t they? We have very rationally chained our self to the shore. Where are these insecurities rooted in our lives? Likely in many places, but let’s look at a few of the most common sources. What holds us back from truly swimming in the deep of Christian life?

• OUR PAST FAILURES. Nothing can kill ambition faster than the fact you have failed before. Failure is often the natural effect of trying something. Failing doesn’t make you “a failure”! You are only a failure when you quit trying. It doesn’t matter what the ambition is: a new diet, an exercise program, nurturing your marriage, making a craft, homeschooling, witnessing to a lost person. You name it, from the most natural everyday task, to the most spiritual undertaking. Go ahead and tell yourself, “I may fail at this. I might do it wrong. And if I do I will take note of my mistake and then try again.” Failure is God’s way of telling you, “That wasn’t quite right, pray, and let’s try it a different way.” – Philippians 3:13 Brethren I count not myself to have apprehended but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before.-

• THE CRITICISM OF OTHERS! Unfortunately even when we have rustled up the courage to pursue our ambition and have put our past failures behind us, there will be actual people just waiting around to criticize our efforts. Often it is folks close to us too, because they feel they have free reign to express their opinions to you, about you! It is important that folks in our life feel comfortable to express those opinions. None of us want people walking on egg shells around us. Wisdom, however, is in knowing when to take the criticism to heart because there is a legitimate point to be made, and when to just let it roll off. Ask yourself: are they criticizing because it is just their habit to criticize? Are they criticizing because they are frustrated about something else not even related to my ambition? If so, then politely take the high road. “Thank you for your opinion, but I feel very confident and excited about this ambition. Please pray for me.” 1st Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am; and the grace of God which was bestowed upon me was not in vain…-

• PLAIN OLD LAZINESS. If you’ve never tried something it’s natural to be insecure about it. If you never try anything then you have LOTS of stuff to feel insecure about. It is so easy to wrap yourself up into a comfortable little bubble of familiar experiences and never attempt to move beyond that. This is not a happy, healthy or spiritual way to live, though. And again this can apply to the simplest of things or the grandest. Trying a new hairstyle because you think your husband would like it, or heading to the mission field (also because your husband would like it.) Laziness is not just sitting on our fanny watching TV all day. That is physical laziness, but few of us ever address our spiritual laziness. Spiritual laziness is an attitude of refusing to push outside our bubble and grow as mothers, sisters, friends, church members and Christians. – Ecclesiastes 3:10 Whatsoever they hand findeth to do do it with all thy might-

So ask yourself today: Am I stuck up on shore, longing to go out deeper? Jesus is not holding your past failures against you. Jesus will not criticize your efforts and Jesus does NOT want you to remain spiritually or physically lazy. Jesus does not want us on the shore, but lovingly holds our hand coaxing us out to where true intimacy and victory can be found. “Just a little deeper, now a little deeper,” he whispers. I want to feel the same joy my two year old felt as she happily danced in the waves, the feeling of victory over my insecurities. The path to that kind of joy lies out “a little deeper.”