Day 8 of the Try Looking At It Through My Eyes challenge and I am pleased to have been able to get this far really as some of them have been quite tough. Certainly tougher than I had at first thought.
Today’s Challenge is:
Day Eight – “The CLOSE Friend” – If you had a friend who spoke to you or treated you the way you speak to and treat yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend and why?
It’s a fascinating question isn’t it? Certainly one which I personally find challenging and one demanding of a lot of consideration. And in my opinion, consideration not only in respect of our psychological or emotional well-being but also our spiritual well-being.
There are two parts to this question and we are invited to respond in two ways to each of them…
The first part focuses on how we talk to ourselves, which can be a difficult thing to consider, whilst the second part focuses on how we treat ourselves. And that can, I believe, sometimes be missed.
So let’s look at each of them in turn…
How we speak to ourselves… If a close friend spoke to me the way I speak to me how long would I allow them to remain a friend and why?
There is perhaps an indicative flaw in this question, I have realized. Which is that since a great deal of the way I talk to myself stems from a very poor self-image and a lack of self-worth, the self-same poor self-image and the self-same lack of self-worth which creates this dialogue would also create a willingness to accept it.
And here I really need to bring in the spiritual aspect of this whole question.
As a Christian I believe not only in the existence of God but also the existence of Satan. How could I not when, as a result of my experience and relationship with Christ, I believe the bible to be the inspired word of God?
The very same bible which testifies to the existence, nature and will of God also testifies to the existence of Satan and warns against the nature and will of Satan – he who seeks to rob, damage or destroy our rightful relationship with God.
I really can’t express how much I believe that if Satan can destroy our belief in God he will do all he can to destroy our ability to believe we can be a part of God, loved of God.
Likewise, I really can’t express too clearly how much I believe that one of the most subtle and effective techniques he uses in order to achieve this is through destroying our own self-image. Tragically, so very tragically, doing so by using the very same people who God intended and desires to install a right and healthy self-image and self-worth.
Each and every aspect of the internal dialogue which says, we are: ugly, clumsy, harmful, useless, worthless and un-loveable etc, and which we take on board as a result of wrong, dysfunctional or damaged relationships with others, not only create a wrong, dysfunctional or damaged relationships with our self but also with our God. A God who does love us, does care for us, and does hold us as’; worth something, valuable and precious – were we but to be able to believe it.
So addressing and combating those harmful and incorrect internal dialogues is essentially important not only for this earthly lifetime but for our eternal lifetime. And addressing them is extremely possible once we recognize and accept not only their presence and effects but also the need to combat and change them.
And at this point I want to recommend that once you have finished reading this post, you pop over to the blog of my fellow blogger and sweet sister in Christ who is also doing this challenge and who has written, in response to it, an excellent post on the subject of harmful internal dialogues. That post can be found here.
But before you do pop over and take a look at that post on internal dialogues and how to combat them, bear with me a little longer if you will and let’s look at the second part of this question…
How we treat ourselves… If a close friend treated to me the way I treat to me how long would I allow them to remain a friend and why?
Combating those negatively critical internal dialogues is, in my opinion, only part of the process. Just as importantly we must, I am convinced, combat the learned behaviors and silent attitudes that result or that have resulted from them. For if we don’t not only are we living out those harmful dialogues but we are also inadvertently feeding into those harmful dialogues.
And I speak here not as someone who believes he has ‘got it all together’ in this regard but as someone who still very much struggles with this issue and still fights to achieve it.
If it is true, which I fully believe it is, that those harmful, negative, critical dialogues are wrong then in truth we have no right and do not deserve to either accept them or be bound by them or to live them out.
But! Am I, are we not doing exactly that – still living them out when I, when we …
fail to believe in ourselves,
fail to look after ourselves,
don’t attempt something because we have already convinced ourselves we can’t or won’t achieve it,
don’t take our medication properly because we don’t feel I we are worth bothering over.
don’t share how we are feeling because we have convinced ourselves the other person doesn’t really care or that we are not worth helping.
don’t eat healthily because we are only worth junk food anyhow.
don’t bath properly because we can’t be bothered
don’t get out, don’t exercise, don’t treat ourselves, don’t…. the list goes on and on doesn’t it?
Yes countering and speaking truth into the lies or wrong, or undeserved negatively critical and harmful internal dialogue is essential. But so too is realistically living in such a way that we are a) living out the positive affirmations we are using to counter the negative internal dialogues, b) not feeding into those negative dialogues and c) (and most importantly in my opinion) also living the way God our loving heavenly Father desires us to.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
(1 Peter 2:9 NIV)
If God Himself, creator of heaven and earth, is willing to accept us, then what does that say to that critical internal dialogue and what should it say about how we should live?
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[a] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.
(Philippians 1:27 NIV)
I truly believe these scriptures to be true and applicable to us all since God desires for all of us to know that we are His children.
BUT regardless of your personal faith and whether or not you feel they do apply to you, we have no right and are not deserving of those negative criticisms that our internal dialogues echo from out of our pasts and we do not deserve to be bound by or live by them.
It is something that I myself am learning daily and something that I pray you have already or are now seeing.
“If I had a friend who spoke to me or treated me the way I speak to and treat myself, how long would I allow that person to be my friend and why?” Well the truth is that I do have friends who in part treat me that way, mainly because I allow it as a result of my having bought into the lies those voices have echoed from my past.
But partly because they, like me, are still learning a different and much better way. 🙂