“You are so high-maintenance.”
“You’re too sensitive.”
Two examples of opinions I’ve been trained to believe about myself. They were words carelessly said long ago by others, offhand observations that have been embedded deep within my heart. They are things I’ve regarded as true; negative thoughts that have held me captive, encouraging me to believe that I’m not good enough to be of use to anyone else.
For years I’ve repeated these notions and others in my mind, reinforcing their power and allowing them to control my actions. I’ve come to recognize that by focusing on the traits I wish were different, I’m blinded to how I can be of service to others. It’s an awful little game the enemy loves to play; he knows that if we’re convinced we have too many faults, we’re less likely to be open to opportunities to be used by God.
by focusing on the traits I wish were different,
I’m blinded to how I can be of service to others.
One verse that has helped me refocus my thoughts is Philippians 4:8. I love the way it is paraphrased in the Message version of the Bible: “…I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”
So perhaps I am sensitive or have high-maintenance tendencies. But rather than focusing on how those are negative aspects, or things to curse, I’m slowly retraining myself to look at the positive side.
What does that look like in an applicable way? First off, I can appreciate this “above average” sensitivity makes me more acutely aware of when others are hurting. I’m able to pick up on signs others may miss because I’m especially perceptive, and in turn my sympathy and compassion for others are greater. Secondly, being mindful that I may be prone to over-emotionalizing things, gives me an opportunity to purposefully prioritize the needs of others above my own.
So how can you adopt a Philippians 4:8 mindset?
The first step is to determine whether or not your thoughts are true. Just because someone else may think something about you doesn’t mean it’s true. Are you really pessimistic, selfish, or judgmental? Prayerfully consider if there is any truth to what you believe about yourself. If there isn’t, immediately take those thoughts captive and replace them with accurate thoughts. Thirdly, remember to be gracious with yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you realize that you do, in fact, tend to be selfish, pessimistic, or judgmental; instead, be grateful that God has illuminated a problem area because now you have a clearer vision of how you can work at becoming more like Christ.
determine whether or not your thoughts are True
Lastly, your best defense against harmful self-talk is replacing them with God’s word. Meditate on verses that reinforce the way God sees you. I have a stack of cards with favorite verses written on them that I refer to when I’m forgetting who I am in Christ. When I realize I’m repeatedly engaging in negative self-talk, I saturate my day with God’s Word, and effectively drown out the voices that threaten to tear me down and become “truths” once again.
It’s time to stop being a victim of your own damaging thoughts. Instead of being held captive by the lies you embed in your mind, God desires you to believe who you are in Christ. Set your mind on Truth and be set free!