Being honest with our Self-View

Have you ever owned a car or lived in a house where you liked absolutely every single thing about it?  It’s hard to imagine.

Most of us would manage to find at least one thing if not two or three, that we wouldn’t have included in the design if we had been making it.

My present car probably meets that criteria. I really like it, well, at least nearly all of it. I get rather frustrated that some of the numbers on the instrument panel are a bit hard to read. Surely, they could have made them even a bit larger.

So, do I absolutely hate the car? Am I going to get rid of it?

Not likely. Simply because the good far outweighs the bad. Considering there is so much to like about it, it would be horribly uneconomical to change it for something just because some numbers are a little smaller than I’d have preferred.

Strange thing. But I’ve known many people who find no purpose in living because there is something about their lives they don’t like.

Somehow, the thing they don’t like becomes so big in their minds that all the good things about their lives get swallowed up like a cosmic black hole. Eventually, they find it hard to like even a single thing about themselves.

This is very sad because, by learning to explore and examine the whole of our lives, we are better able to re-define those things that we are less happy about and put them into perspective.

Over the years I have asked many hundreds of people to tell me five things they like about themselves. You can feel the uneasy squirming in the room. The audible groans confirm the unpleasantness of the task.

They ‘um’ and ‘argh’, trying to think of things, taking as long as possible, hoping I’ll ask an easier question instead. Reaffirming that I only want five, seldom seems to lessen the apparent agony of the task.

Why is it so hard to think of only five things we like about what and who we are?

There’s a very good reason.

When we focus on the less desirable aspects of our lives, the less favourably we see the best things about ourselves.  If we continue to dwell on them, eventually, we only see the things in us that we don’t like.

From there, it’s only a short step to becoming convinced that there is nothing good in us.  Life tends to be downhill from here on.

To think that all of this is totally unnecessary.

As a species, humanity has been created in the image of God. Consequently, He has gifted us with a vast array of attributes, skills, qualities, key-capacities and talents, that sets us far apart and above every other created species on earth.

All of these attributes enable us to pursue endless possibilities that allow us to grow, learn, enjoy, experience and design, produce gain and improvement for ourselves, the community and world we live in.

But what about the bits we don’t like?

Nobody likes having aspects of ourselves that we don’t like.  But there’s an easy way to turn things around.  It’s just a matter of rewriting our dislikes and turning them into statements of encouragement.

Do you want to know how to do it?

Let me introduce factious character, James.

James sees himself as a social misfit.  He has a belief that says, “I’m hopeless with talking to people”.  Needless to say, James doesn’t think much of himself overall, because his belief about his communication skills dominates his self-view. This substantially affects the way he interacts with others.

However, if James rewrites this belief into a more realistic statement, life will change dramatically for him. He can easily do it in just three steps.

  1. Get rid of pejorative or put-down type words.
  2. Rewrite the belief more accurately and specifically to reflect the truth.
  3. Include a balanced complimentary view.

In James’s case, he would do the following:

  1. Eliminate the derogatory description, ‘hopeless’. It’s not true. Nobody is hopeless.
  2. Rewrite a more accurate phrase, something like this… “Starting a conversation with strangers is not my best skill”.   This is much more truthful and realistic.
  3. Then add a corresponding truth. Something like this..   “but I can easily talk about things I’m familiar with.”

So James’ new belief sounds like this…

James: “Starting a conversation with strangers is not my best skill, but I love to talk about things I’m familiar with”.

For James, this is a far more accurate way of describing one aspect of himself and puts what he’s not, in perspective against what he really is. Rewriting our self-view, is not hard.

And the best thing about doing it is, that we start to see more clearly all the good things about who we are.

Suddenly, life is worth going on with.

(Incidentally. There are so many things I like about my car, I can’t even remember what it was I didn’t like about the dashboard.)


Life Really Matters

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