What do you believe about yourself and your life? In the many, many emails I have had with my readers, I have learned a lot about how you see yourself. These beliefs have more power over your existence than you can imagine. Quite often, the main thing standing in the way of you and a wonderful life is … you.
Why does this matter so much?
Well, as a Christian, I know that what you believe can have a profound effect on how you behave, the choices you make in life, how you treat others and the behaviour you accept from others. And that’s not just your unconscious beliefs, which we can deal with later, but the ones you express and are clear about.
My song list in the car, the quotes and Bible verses with which I surround myself, even the people with whom I regularly fellowship, all reinforce my belief that I am a child of the one true King, that I am redeemed and valuable, worthy of respect and fair treatment, that I have a Father who knows my needs and is pleased to provide for me and that all is well, even when life seems unfair or difficult.
Let’s look at a few things I’ve heard from readers.
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I need to let go of my dreams because I’m unable to achieve them.
So many variations of that come through my inbox. People tell me that they are undeserving of their dreams and desires, and then relate to me – without realizing it – all the ways that they are sabotaging themselves. Sitting in the mud and bemoaning that that’s all you deserve is not doing anything to help you achieve the life you want.
There is most certainly a difference between that apathetic, woebegone belief and the firm knowledge that good things will come to you despite your current situation.
Accept where you are, of course.
No good comes from pretending that your current life is different than it is. I often think of the story of Joseph – sold into slavery by his brothers and then, after achieving some success as a slave, falsely accused of rape and put on death row. Yet he was destined to be the right hand man of the Pharoah.
Believe in your heart that you are meant for something better, even if you feel like everything is going wrong.
Once you have accepted the current situation, don’t dwell on it. I love the Mennonite saying “It is what it is. Now deal with it.” Spend time pondering how to follow your dreams. Make a list of the steps required to achieve the life you crave. Look at them as stair steps. Then, begin “climbing” those steps toward your future, one by one.
Your new belief might sound something like, “I accept my current situation and I am taking steps to improve it. I’m following my dreams starting today and will celebrate each step I achieve along the way.”
I don’t have the right to ask for what I want because I fear rejection.
It worries me when I see my readers who feel that they are less important than others.
Are you like that?
If you feel as though your wants and needs are irrelevant, or merely less relevant than the wants and needs of other people, then you are definitely holding yourself back. You don’t rock the boat, you don’t ask for the things that you want, and you keep smiling even when you don’t feel like smiling.
In our home, when we catch someone doing that, we quote Marge Simpson because isn’t that what every child of the 80s does?
An attitude like Marge’s – I’ll smile for both of us – might land you in a psychiatrist’s office eventually. But it will also lead you to do other people’s homework, tolerate abusive relationships and give up on what you treasure most.
This is the belief that I find hardest to hear from my readers, because I’ve been there. For years I made decisions that reflected my belief that I didn’t matter and that what I wanted or needed was unimportant. The effects of those decisions will affect my family forever.
The fact is that your feelings are just as valuable as everyone else’s. Consider changing this belief to, “I am important and how I feel matters. I can ask for what I want. Others may disagree, but I can handle it.”
Most people will listen well and respond if you speak tactfully and honestly without anger. No one responds well to attacks, and if you’ve been suppressing your own needs for years, you may have some anger boiling up. Find a trustworthy friend who can help you with wording, or who will let you practice until you know you can speak without anger or attack.
Some people, though, will respond negatively. That’s fine. It really is. You have no control over the feelings of others, even if they come out with abusive language like “You really piss me off when you do that.” Yes, there is a huge difference between “You piss me off when …” and “I feel very angry when …” In the first, the speaker is attempting to push responsibility for their emotions on someone else.
You do have control over your own feelings and actions, so ask for what you need and want. Listen to the responses of others, and take criticism seriously, but realize that you’re not responsible for how they feel.
You are responsible for your feelings and actions. They’re yours and they’re valuable. Don’t try to push responsibility for them on someone else – no one else makes you angry, sad, frustrated.
I’m not going to trust anyone again.
What a sad and lonely world it is for anyone who refuses to trust. The thinking is generally that someone hurt you, or lied to you, or betrayed you, or disappeared from your life, or was unsupportive … the list goes on … and because of that, you have closed the door of trust permanently.
From my own life, I can tell you that my parents have made really poor decisions at times, partners in my past were abusive or unfaithful, friends have failed me when I needed them. There is probably no one in my life who has always been exactly the person I needed them to be at all times, and some were absolutely awful.
Then again, there are quite a few people who have said exactly that about me, too.
It really does seem as though the answer would be to close up the doors of your heart and protect yourself from emotional hurt. Years ago, when accused of not trusting, I responded with “Well, I trust you as much as I trust anyone. Which means, you’re right – not much.” Well, ten years later and I can say I trust him … most of the time.
Most of us are familiar with the version of Anyway that was found on the wall in Mother Theresa’s home in Calcutta. (The original is credited to Kent M. Keith)
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
-this version is credited to Mother Teresa
This is the answer to trust issues. People will fail. They simply will. If you expect perfect behaviour from people, you will be disappointed every single time.
What I tell myself frequently is “People are fallible and selfish, just like I am. I will trust them anyway, but never put them on a unrealistic pedestal of perfection.”
There’s not enough for me and I’ll always be poor.
There is a pervasive lie going around that there is not enough and that lack and limitation will always be our reality..
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” And in fact, the Bible is absolutely packed full of references to God’s abundance and His desire to bless us.
As I have heard one person put it, not only does God own the cattle of a thousand hills, but He owns the hills. And out of that, He promises us “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.”
Other beliefs, about your value and worth, are at work when you feel that lack and limitation will always be your lot. You may accept that God will fill your cup, but you are purposely clinging to the smallest cup that you can find.
Here is a simple song that my children absolutely love. In fact, the moment we get in the car, they want me to find it and play it … over and over again.
Another that I personally love is Pastor Don McClurkin’s Walking in Authority, and my favourite line is “we never have to beg or plead, for our Father will supply our need”.
Believing in God’s abundance and provision means that you can effectively become a steward for what He gives you, without fear of lack. The problem with fearing lack is that it holds us back and makes us unwillingly to take chances or move forward. That fear also makes us cling to the little that we have instead of gratefully sharing and opening our arms for more.
Imagine if Prince William of England were huddling in a back alley behind Buckingham Palace, clinging to his shopping cart of scavenged garbage. For that to happen, of course, he would have to forget who he truly was. He would have to consider himself unworthy of the abundance to which he was born.
Have you forgotten who you are and the abundance into which you were born?
The first step in eliminating this false and very damaging belief is to take an honest look at your financial situation. Assess it and see what can be changed. Living within your current means is wise and good stewardship, but it must be done from a sense of gratitude, without fear. Once you know that you can indeed live within or below your financial means, and that you are valuable, important and deserving of abundance, you can take steps to improve your situation and enjoy your life.
I am blessed with abundance. There is no lack, no matter what I may be seeing today. I can learn to trust because I lovingly accept that people will fail, just like I fail at times. My feelings are mine, and I own and take responsibility for them, just as I expect others to take responsibility for their own. I truly am walking in authority and abundance, a child of God and deserving of all the good that He has in store for me.
This post turned out to be far longer than I expected, and I truly hope that it has blessed you.
What do you believe about yourself? If your thoughts and beliefs are unhealthy and limiting, then you are preventing yourself from achieving a healthy relationship, monetary security and the dream life that you yearn for. Worse, they are preventing you from having a close and loving relationship with God, who loves you and wants to bless you with all good things.
It all begins with what you believe.