October 23, 2010

Inner Critic

Self-esteem is a most peculiar thing. One day you might feel on top of the world and unafraid of trying new things. The next day you wake up feeling the complete opposite and sometimes not even wanting to get out of bed to face the day, never mind the world. I read this quote today,
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
I had to look twice at the person who stated this because I was sure that it was from “Dr. Phil”, but it was written by Eleanor Roosevelt, in ‘This is My Story’, 1932.

I’m sure in the context of Mrs. Roosevelt’s writing these words have deeper meaning than the mere buzzwords that they have become in the 21st century. This quote and self-esteem, or the lack of it, are often paired together. There is nothing wrong with saying, “she made me feel…”; “what he did, made me feel…” People’s actions and behaviours do influence how we feel. Are we giving them consent to make us feel this way? I really don’t think so. Self esteem is directly affected by other people, situations, childhood experiences, and especially for us women, hormones.

If I was a person of greater influence maybe my quote would be the next buzzword:
“People, things and situations can make you feel inferior without your consent; however, it is when you continue to agree with this assessment by giving it mental assent then your own "self" becomes an inner critic that results in lowered self-esteem.”
A bit of a mouthful at first but let’s take a closer look. There are many things in life that we have little control over, including our initial reactions. It is in the processing, and in the working through, of different situations that we begin to see how our own self defeating thoughts have tripped us up. By agreeing with our “inner critic” with thoughts like “I’m just no good”, “I knew I couldn’t do it”, “I’m just so stupid”, we become architects of our own misery.

As Christians, we also have another enemy who will take every advantage of our self defeating thoughts. Satan is a roaring lion seeking to destroy that which God loves the most, us. Sometimes Satan can initialize the process but often it is our own repetitive patterns of thought that have started a downward spiral of self-deconstruction. The battle we have is not really about “self-esteem” but about seeing ourselves as God sees us and becoming the person that God has intended.
Our “inner critic” becomes muted, and then silenced, when self defeating thoughts are replaced by the truth of God’s word. Even the mouth of lions are stopped by the power of His truth, not our truth. Self esteem is a peculiar thing  but according to 1 Peter 2:9 we are “…. a peculiar people” (KJV).

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