Yesterday, we looked at the value of adopting a positive mindset.
Trying to succeed while carrying the burden of self-defeating attitudes is like trying to swim with a 3 piece suit on. You’re going to fight unnecessary resistance the whole way. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but things are going to be very, very difficult. Today’s post is all about shedding those ugly negative thoughts and setting yourself up for a much smoother ride.
As my regular readers know, I’m coming from a decidedly Christian worldview. If you don’t share my beliefs, I would ask that you stick with me here. Not only are these principles practical for everyone, but they might help you to better understand the God that you may not be so familiar with.
Surrender the Illusion of Control
We don’t like this step, but it’s absolutely necessary before we can move forward.
We like to pretend that we have ultimate control over our circumstances. We figure that, if we work 40 hours a week behind a desk in our comfortable little world, that we’ll be forever shielded from bad things like pain, suffering, humiliation, death, etc.
If we can just “ride it out,” we think we’ll have a good enough life. This is not true.
I know from personal experience and by faith that my life is not my own. When we cling to the illusion of control, we ignore the calling God places on our lives. We dare not leave our supposed safety in “reckless” pursuit of God’s will.
The truth is God’s will is the safest place for you to be. This pursuit for ‘control’ and for relative ‘safety’ will stop you dead in your tracks. Don’t give in to it.
Identify Negative Internal Dialogue
You are endowed with some great gifts that God can and will use for His glory. In steadfast prayer, He will reveal His will for your life and mine. All we have to do is follow and pursue these God-given dreams.
This is usually where doubt settles in:
- “I’ve got this burning desire to start a non-profit, but I’m not organized enough for all that.”
- “I’ve got a great idea for a business that will meet a real need. If only I was smart enough to make it work.”
- “I’ve got to make these important phone calls, but I’m sure those people won’t want to hear from me.”
We can go for days here. You’ve got to dial up your self awareness and be on the look out for the kind of thoughts that attack and devalue what you’re doing.
Action Step: Carry around a small journal and write down every one of these negative accusations as soon as they pop up. Be diligent about this. Don’t let a single one slip by.
Uncover the Lies in What You’re Hearing
Accusations are not God-given and do not reflect His truth. In every negative line of thinking, there is a fundamental lie at work. I’ll flesh out a few examples, but this is by no means and exhaustive list.
- The Thought: You’re not articulate enough.
- The Lie: Only smooth talkers succeed.
- FYI: Moses was far from being a gifted public speaker.
- The Thought: I’m nothing like the prototypical success story.
- The Lie: Success is only for certain types of people.
- FYI: King David was the least in his family; nothing like what a king should be.
It’s very important that we root out these lies, because they are the very things that we’re going to have to go to battle with.
Discover the Truth That Combats Those Lies
We’ve got to inundate ourselves with a healthy dose of truth to specifically combat each one of these lies. I get this truth from scripture and from personal experience. The key is to seek out the truth that speaks directly to that specific lie and have it ready to go as soon as its necessary.
For an example in personal experience, I used to be a horribly introverted person. I was shy as a mouse. I would convince myself that I wasn’t charming or witty enough to carry on a conversation with a “stranger.” This would cause me to never put myself out there and to live a fairly inward life.
For a business owner and an entrepreneur, that kind of attitude is a death sentence. By necessity, I had to examine my own behavior and bring about a real change. The alternative would be failure and an inability to realize my personal dreams.
The lie in this case was that I had to be anything other than what I already was in order to meet people. The specific truth, in my experience, is that people will connect with authenticity and honesty. The key is to be who I am and just go meet people.
We tend to talk ourselves out of doing things; rationalizing our reluctance with lies. We need to focus on truth. I’m not sure what this looks like for you, but I can tell you that its important for you to spend some time finding specific truths to combat your specific lies.
Develop a Way to Consistently Abide in That Truth
I use flash cards. That’s right. Flash cards.
Whenever I have to speak publicly or have a difficult phone conversation, my initial tendency is to stress over what I’m going to say and how I’m going to say it. Then comes the enemy, telling me that I will utterly fail.
In response, I pull out my flash card with Exodus 4:11 and 12 written on it:
Then the Lord said to him, Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.
That’s just one example of many. It doesn’t have to be scripture; you could use quotes, song lyrics, or even pictures that have personal meaning. (Although, I do find the universe-creating Word of God to be pretty sufficient for me.)
If you decide to go head on with the lies and negative thoughts that seek to hold you down, you’re going to have to be intentional. Find tangible ways to abide in the truth. Make that your default reaction.
Flee from negativity. Stay in this place of truth and positive thought. You’ll be amazed at the incredible things that God will be able to accomplish through you.
What do you do to fight off self-sabotage?