We all believe lies about ourselves. Even when we don’t realize it, our creative minds come up with these sneaky, little untruths that can convince us we are something we’re not… or, often times, that we’re NOT something that indeed we ARE.
A huge part of my mental health recovery journey has always been identifying these lies and reconsidering them—looking at what’s true and what’s logical, and choosing not to believe the falsities any longer. I think this is a positive practice for anyone at any time in their life. You don’t have to be depressed or suffering from severe anxiety to fall prey to believing lies about yourself. It can happen to all of us. We like to justify, we like to make excuses, and we like there to be an explanation for all of our shortcomings.
In general, these days, I feel like I am in a really great place mentally. But I am still aware that there are some lies that manifest in my life from time to time and control the way I perceive myself. And the first step to stomping out these lies is to acknowledge them. So that’s what today’s post is all about.
LIE #1) My struggles = total failure.
This came up for me very recently in a session with my psychologist. We were revisiting some of the trauma that I experienced just over a year ago, and she noticed that I continually described my response to the experience using language like, “I couldn’t handle it” or “I totally messed up”. I realized that I was still perceiving myself as a total failure because of the way the situation impacted my mental health—as though I should have been stronger and I shouldn’t have allowed myself to spiral to a place that I perceived as being so completely out of control.
This is just an example of this lie manifesting in my life. I tend to see any small mistake or any imperfection as a total failure. I think it says something about who I am as a person, rather than simply an indicator of the day I’m having or the pressure I’m under at any given moment.
But the truth is that my struggles don’t make me a total failure. My struggles make me human. They connect me with every other individual on the planet—because none of us are perfect. Yes, I make lots of mistakes. And sometimes I even knowingly make the wrong choices. But that doesn’t make me a total failure. And I need to remember that.
LIE #2) I’m too aggressive.
One of the biggest insecurities that I struggle with about my own personality is my assertive nature. It’s not that I don’t like this quality about myself, because when I step back I can see its many benefits— I take charge, I get stuff done, and I am not afraid to make my opinions known. But sometimes I feel like I can freak people out along the way, and I really don’t like that!
So I look at myself as being too aggressive. And I judge myself for it. I wish I were more gentle, more delicate. I wish I had a softer personality—a warm one, that didn’t scare people! I wish I were different.
But I’m not different. This is me. Yes, I need to be careful to think before I speak and to always choose kind and respectful words, rather than harsh or hurtful ones—just like everybody else should. And yes, I need to be aware of who I am talking to and interacting with, and how they will experience my personality—another thing I think more people should be mindful of. But that doesn’t mean I am too aggressive. I am assertive. I am confident. And I am able to look at a situation and know what is needed to get from point a to point b (or c, or d, or z)! And those are qualities I can be proud of.
LIE #3) My fear is greater than my strength.
Fear is an issue that I have been working on for a long, long time now, but has come to the forefront recently as I enter my third trimester and cruise ever closer to the unknown terrors of childbirth. Giving birth has probably always been one of the scariest ideas in life to me. And with being on a path towards adoption, I really thought I was going to be able to evade this mysterious nightmare.
But God had other plans for us… and I think I am beginning to see one of the reasons why. I think that one of God’s purposes for me in this whole experience may be to point out this lie that I believe about myself—that my fear is greater than my strength—and to help me overcome it.
The truth is that I am so scared of the pain and the life-altering consequences of pushing a baby out of my body. Terrified to the point of tears sometimes. But the more I read and learn about the process of childbirth, the more I realize that I was literally created to do this. My body knew how to fertilize and implant an egg, it knew how to form a placenta, it knows how to grow a baby! And it will known how to deliver this baby into the world when the time comes.
I CAN do this. Just like I CAN learn to manage my anxiety, and I CAN overcome my fears. My fear is not greater than my strength. And most importantly, my fear is certainly not greater than God’s strength. And it is His strength in me that truly keeps me going. With him on my side, I can do anything.
LIE #4) My stuff matters more.
This is a harder one to admit, because it’s different than the other three. Most of the lies we believe reveal a lack of self-esteem or a way that we somehow look down on ourselves. But this lie is just pure selfishness, and somehow to me that makes it ickier to acknowledge.
But it is true. I do sometimes find myself believing in the lie that my stuff matters more than anyone else’s. As an example, if someone tells me how busy and crazy their life is, I can find myself lacking care or compassion for their situation. Instead, I can go to that place in my mind where I discount what they are saying because I believe that I am a million times busier than they are.
Or sometimes I will expect Ryan to drop whatever he’s doing and help me the moment I need something, because my life is so stressful and his only purpose is to support me and make my life easier, right? Well what about when he’s super busy and stressed? In my mind I usually perceive myself as busier and more stressed, so that means I don’t have to help him! What a backwards way of thinking!
Truthfully, I think this kind of self-focused thinking is more common and more damaging than we realize. It’s important to remember that life isn’t all about ME. And that life is more fulfilling when we look at every person on the planet with a love and acceptance that stems from the truth that ALL of us were created in the image of God. That means that ALL of us are born with an infinite value that no one can truly fathom. My stuff doesn’t matter more than anyone else’s. We are all important, and we must learn to see each other that way.
Thanks for taking the time to read as I process through some of these lies. What are some of the lies that you believe about yourself? Wishing you all the best as you work through those inventions of your mind and discover the truth, which will set you free!