What’s Going On In Your Mind?
To those of us who haven’t easily loved ourselves, doing so is easier said than done. Everything we see seems to be proof that we are unworthy of love or are not viewed as important by others. It’s not that our lives are worse off than others necessarily, but our brains have been trained to view events and circumstances of our lives under this framework.
When our parents give us our favorite dessert, we think our sibling has a better piece. Instead of enjoying the treat, our minds question life’s fairness and wonder if our parents love our sibling more.
If we get the job of our dreams, we feel somehow we will lose it. Somehow we have fooled the hiring manager to think we can handle the job. People may compliment us on doing a good job, but we forget those praises soon after they are stated because our minds are focusing on what we think we’re doing wrong.
Our spouses may regularly tell us how much they love us, but something as simple as not smiling when we come into a room is what ignites a firestorm of activity in our minds about how they may really feel about us.
I know for those who don’t have this problem, it may sound silly. It’s not that we really want to be this way; we just don’t know how to change our thoughts.
How Do I Know People Think This Way?
I understand these thought patterns because I have fought with them for most of my life. I also have heard other men share with me similar thoughts about themselves. Here are a few other examples:
Nobody will love me. There was a man I knew who was muscular but not over the top. He was super friendly to everyone, smiling often. My wife mentioned how several single ladies would talk about how much they liked him. However, he shared how he felt that no woman would ever see him as attractive. Obviously, either he didn’t know what was being said about him or he couldn’t believe it to be true.
Nobody wants to be my friend. There was another man who always had a crowd of people around him. People were always trying to get him to go to spend time with them for meals or games. He was always fun to be with, but his mind told him that other people didn’t really like to be with him.
I’m not really a man. Finally, another man I knew had a great marriage and raised a loving family. Still, he doubted people viewed him as a man. A comment someone in authority said about him when he was young carried more weight than years of experience and encouragement from friends.
How to Change Your Thoughts
God wants us to think like He does. We are to transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). To think like God does is not some lovely platitude, but it is how we are to build our house on the rock and how we are to be set free (Matthew 7:24 & John 8:31-32).
Therefore the first step to changing our thoughts is to hear what God says about us. Listening to the word of the Lord is life-giving and goes deep into our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). It tears down the strongholds of lies we have believed about ourselves, God, and our world (2 Corinthians 10:5).
This is definitely reading your Bible, but it is also being quiet before the Lord and hearing what He says about you. You will be amazed by what He has to say about you. It sounds too good to be true, but the fact remains that God really, really likes you, and He will wants to tell you this.
If loving yourself is an area you would like to grow in, check out these books: The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself by Jerry and Denise Basel and Academy of Powerful Caregivers, a Prayer Coach resource.
Allow Others to Speak Truth to You
Because God’s words over you are so great, you may be tempted to discount them thinking it was just your pride speaking. The enemy will try to get you to think there is no way God would ever feel that way about you or that He could ever use you the way you heard God whisper to your heart.
This is why the second step is so important. Allowing other people to speak God’s words over you helps you believe them to be true.
The way I practice this is to have a group of men that I know will listen to me, pray for me, and encourage me. Then I share with them the thoughts in my head, when I feel like a failure or rejected by others or any thought that is making me feel disconnected from God or others. In doing so, I am trusting these men to hear me and speak life into me.
Those things I share are things the enemy tells me would cause others to keep their distance from me. As these men move closer to me instead of away, I begin to experience God’s truth that I am valued as a friend and as a man. When we find acceptance through exposing areas we thought would bring rejection, our hearts are changed and God’s truth can go deeper.
We are able to do this for each other by trusting the Holy Spirit’s work in each other. If one of us says something stupid or sinful, we know that is not who they are. Then we just listen to God and tell then who He says they are and chose to remember what God said about them rather than what they view about themselves.
God’s View Changes Things
There was a new guy to a group I was leading. He was young, sarcastic, and liked fancy things. To be honest, my first impressions were not that good.
Thankfully I have learned not to trust my first impressions and instead trusted God had a reason for bringing him to the group. I had the men pray and ask God how He viewed him. What I remember was that I felt God said he was someone who moved fast and would quickly follow God where ever. I also felt God brought up a verse about John the Baptist about preparing the way of the Lord.
This guy said that he felt God had previous given him that as a life verse but he was ashamed about believing it. Listening to what God said about this guy, changed my impression of him and he liked me more for seeing something about himself that he was struggling to believe.
We all need people like this in our lives. People who will remind us of how God sees us, so that we can learn to love ourselves to the degree God does. Once we know we are loved, we can freely give love to others.