The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Have you ever stopped to think about just what goes on inside your head throughout the moments in your day? In the morning as you stumble out of bed, running late because last night you thought it would be a grand idea to get in one more episode of your favorite show on Netflix . You get to the pharmacy to pickup your medication and there’s one person at the front who should have just gone into the store instead of holding up the entire drive through. Next you miraculously make it to your favorite coffee shop in time for your barista to make your coffee. Stop and pause for a moment to take notice of what you tell yourself and the thoughts which so quickly run through your head. These thoughts, the things you say to yourself, and the feelings buried within the thoughts are what I would call internal dialogue.

Stories

Now take a moment to stop and think about this internal dialogue. What type of things do you tell yourself each day? Think through your day-to-day and examine what type of fears cross your path. Have you ever left the house for work or to head off to school and you start to think things like, “Did I turn off the oven when I left the house?” Or maybe it’s not the oven, maybe you wonder if you locked your car or closed the garage. Your question could be a number of things. Maybe the questions for you are different.

Do you ever pray for things and you do not get the answer you were seeking? Maybe you did not get an answer at all. This lack of answer can cause you to think or feel things about God or about yourself. What I have begun to study in these scenarios are the thoughts, feelings and assumptions which surround these moments. These collective thoughts, feelings, and assumptions are what I will call stories. Individually, these seem like small, insignificant, unrelated things, but collectively they tell a story.

Defining Our Reality

These stories we tell ourselves quickly become our truth and ultimately our reality. They shape what we believe and ultimately how we live or what we do. Take the unanswered prayer scenario. Out of hurt, the lack of clear answer might cause one to think, does God really care about these small things? Do I really matter to God? Out of hurt or disappointment we tend to think some pretty crazy things. If we are not careful, these feelings or thoughts can gain a foothold in our lives. Before we know it, our brain is doing what it was designed to do. It is looking for confirmation to reinforce these thoughts or feelings.

Let’s Get Practical

So what can we do to address these things practically?

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Seek God.

I would start by seeking God asking questions like, God show me thoughts or feelings which I’m thinking which set themselves up against your truth. I would also pray through Psalm 139:23. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”

Identify One Lie

Second, I would also start by identifying one lie you are telling yourself. Think this does not apply to you? This may be the first lie you need to address. Look at the things you fear and ask, what am I saying by believing in this fear? What can I do to keep from allowing this fear to be true in my life?

Replace the Lie With Truth

As believers, our ultimate source of truth is in the Bible. As you read the Bible, ask God to show you scripture which disproves the lie. Write down the versus He shows you and find a way to commit them to memory. Use a sticky note on your mirror, put one on your desk at work or somewhere in your car. Recite the verse out loud and in your mind. Repeat this until you no longer need the sticky note.

Congratulations!

If you have made it this far, congratulations! This is tough! So pat yourself on the back. Give yourself credit for being willing to look internally at the things you are telling yourself. Praise and thank God for all He is doing! Now repeat the process!

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Seeds of Deception

Photo by  Clint McKoy  on  Unsplash

Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash

Have you ever stood beside something so large and wondered how it ever grew to be what it is today? Standing next to one of these redwood trees is enough to make anyone feel a bit small. It is enough to put things into a different perspective. When you stop to think of where this massive redwood tree began, you are taken to a tiny little seed like in the picture. It is hard to imagine that something so large could start with something so small.

I recently sat down to go through Chazown in order to seek God on His vision or dream for my life. I had gone through the teaching a few times before, so this was more of me reexamining what God had shown me in years prior. I was seeking to clarify a few things and make sure I was headed in the right direction. I was going through part of the exercises in the course which have you examine key events, people and past experiences which have had an impact on your life.

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A part of this exercise has the participants write down these items on sticky notes and arrange them into chapters. As I was going back over these chapters I started to look back at one particular chapter where God was pointing me. As I began to review this chapter, I started to see a distinct pattern which I had never seen before. I began to see these ideas which were introduced early in my life which were complete garbage.

Seeds

These ideas were more than just ideas. The lies initially were very small and seemingly innocent, much like the seeds of a redwood. So I began the process of naming the lies and asking God how I ever started believing what I will refer to as seeds or lies. I use the word lies, but they were much more crafty or cunning than what I let on. These were small and very deceptive in nature. Funny thing is they seemed like they came from my own thoughts. .

Each of these seeds started very small and each seemed innocent enough at the beginning. Fast-forward to today, what I found looking back was that these seeds were no longer small or innocent. One was figuratively the size of a redwood tree. I could look back and see the events in my life which had reenforced the validity of the initial idea. I could even see other events which served to help the idea gain acceptance in my life.

I now found myself staring at this massive lie which has now taken up residency in my life. If you were to stand under it like a redwood tree, you might gaze with awe upon its majesty. It is now the primary root of my anxiety and contributes regularly to overwhelming fear. The scary thing is that it was not content to stay the same. As it grew, it manifested into anxiety and depression. At one point the anxiety from this seed overwhelmed me. And to think It all started by entertaining an innocent idea.

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Motivating Factors

I find it fascinating that as human beings we possess the unique ability to examine what motivates us towards a decision yet we hardly ever take the time to do just that. Often people will make a pro’s and con’s list to help them identify the positive and negative outcomes for an action. I believe this is a wise exercise and probably one of the most basic things we can do as human towards making a good decision. Understanding what motivates us and creating a basic routine for decision making can have a dramatic impact on our day-to-day lives. As I see it, there are three areas of motivation when it comes to making a decision as a believer. These include internal motivators, external motivators, and Godly motivators.

Internal Motivators

If we are honest with ourselves, most of us will admit that our decisions are largely based on what I refer to as internal motivators. Internal motivators include our personal needs, wants, and desires. These are the things which appeal to us personally in one way or another. When looking at career motivations, one example of this could be a childhood dream to practice medicine. Another could be the appeal to be a designer due to the desire to create. Sometimes career choices come based on the desired lifestyle which accompanies a particular career. Freelancers and remote workers might cite autonomy as one of their major motivating factors in choosing their current position. These are but a few examples of the possible internal motivators which drive an individual to choose a career.

External Motivators

External motivators come in many shapes and sizes of which might include circumstances, friends or family members. Sticking to the theme of career motivations, an example of an external motivator might include the level of pay a particular career provides. Another might be upholding the expectations from parents, friends or other family members. People often want to impress or be seen favorably by their parents, friends or potential spouse. The prestige associated with a particular career can be an intoxicating desire which can be hard to pass up. Sometimes external motivators come in the form of difficult circumstances. Being fired or let go from a job creates an intense sense of urgency when looking for work. Often the weight of the situation will drive people to accept jobs which they might not accept otherwise. Here I have listed just a few examples, but I believe they give enough clarity to the concept of external motivators.

God’s Will aka “Godly Motivators”

This includes the Will of God. Another way of thinking about this category might be to think about the plans God has for his children. This category often takes a back seat to internal or external motivators. We are often so overwhelmed by the first two categories that God’s Will gets overlooked in the process. As we mature as believers, God’s Will should begin to take priority in our decisions. This can begin by simply asking the question, “God, what do you want in this situation?” Merely asking the question causes a shift of focus from our internal and external motivators to what is really important, God’s Will.

I hope that simply thinking through this topic will stir within you. the desire to come up with your own decision making plan. Simple or complex it does not matter. The result is what matters. I have not accomplished. this, I merely started thinking it through. This is on my list to do this year. I hope you will make it a priority because I believe the results of having an effective decision-making routine can change your life.