The Desperate Need To Encourage Yourself

I have been in a hole for some time. A deep hole of discouragement and doubt. This mindset is a crippling mental bear trap that once you’ve step in it, it’s tough to get out of it. I’m only now returning to the idea of encouraging myself as a way to dig myself out.

You would think it’s simple, right? Say nice things about yourself and the dark cloud goes way. It’s not that easy. You have to actually believe the things you’re saying to get anywhere. So,  grab a shovel, and join me as I dig myself out right in front of you.

The first thing I discovered is the I must admit what is not true about me. I can’t say I’m a great singer if I am not a great singer. Lying to myself only deepens the hole.

The key is not to focus on the negative,  but to see simply nod at them as if to say, “I see you over there, you’re real, but you’re not my focus.”

Next, I have to know what is true about me. I’m making two lists, one is a skill based list and the other is character based list. This is so important,  I am not my job or my skills. My human qualities are what enhances by skill not the other way around. Example: I am not a kind person because I am a Pastor, I am a kind person and this makes me a good Pastor.

Third, I draw from what others have told me about myself. They were not just being kind, they actually meant it and I have to take the affirmative things people say to heart rather than brush them off. Based on this, here are my lists.

Character List

  • I am honest.
  • I am kind.
  • I am generous.
  • I am helpful.
  • I am creative.
  • I am an encourager.
  • I am caring
  • I am faithful.

If you’re like me, you’re tempted to stop because it sounds like you’re bragging. This is the point. You brag on yourself, to yourself, because no one else is encouraging you. So, don’t stop (I will stop here because you probably already know how awesome I am).

Skill List

  • I am a good writer and improving.
  • I am good at creating positive programs.
  • I am a good video editor and improving
  • I am great communicator and improving.
  • I am good at breaking down complicated ideas and thoughts.
  • I am a pretty good marketer and improving.
  • I am very good on camera and connecting with my audience.
  • I am a good collaborator and teammate. 

Once again, I’ll stop there because you already know this about me 🙂 

There’s one more dynamic of my life I have to look at in order to see a complete picture of myself. As a Christian, I believe in a God who created me, loves and gave his son Jesus Christ for me.

This truth speaks to my overall value and worth. This is not to say that people who are not Christians are not of value or worth or that I am more valuable than others. What these spiritual truths speak to me are realities beyond my character and skills and speaks to my spirit.

Who am I when I fail or when I blow it? Do I have worth and value then? If you’ve ever blown it big time, its sometimes hard to find the encouragement you seek from others. Others can only see the mistake(s) where God sees beyond the mistake to redemption.

Here’s my brief list of spiritually encouraging truths

  • God loves me no matter what, so I can love others the same.
  • God shows me grace and forgiveness when I cannot forgive myself. This means I can sho grace and forgive others
  • God stays with me in my worst moments when other walks away. I will never be truly alone.
  • God values me, so I can value others.

I’ll close with a Psalm from David, where David declares the realities of his discouragement, but then turns his heart towards deeper truths that encourages his heart. I hope they encourage yours as well.

Psalm 13

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

 

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Making Discouragement Tap Out

Moment of honesty. I am writing this because I am in the octagon with discouragement right now, and he’s known for cheating. The questions is, who will tap out first.

Discouragement in teenagers is not much different from  discouragement in adults; it’s simply amplified.

Teens can become discouraged because they: 

– Don’t have as many friends or enough close friends as they would like

– Their world is out of control

– They feel like they are not making progress

– No one understands them

Adults can be discouraged because:

– Friends moving away dying, or just a lack of community

– THE world IS out of control and we we feel powerless to change it

– Not only do we feel like we are not making progress, we feel like we can’t even get the opportunity to make progress.

– No one understands us. We can’t get people to see our point of view or make the people understand how we feel. We feel like we are not being heard.

Yep, it sounds like we are still teenagers no matter how old we are doesn’t it?

So, what do we do about these recurring daggers of discouragement that stab at our consciences?  There are two principles that come to mind that I have lived by most of my life. They are not perfect because I have seen discouragement win, but if I do not at least try, I lose by default.

Renew Your Mind

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

We have to re-train our brains from thinking discouraging thoughts such as: “God must hate me” and “I am useless”. This is self inflicted discouragement. Renewing our minds means we have to get rid of the old thinking that brings us down. Fighting discouragement is an act of the will as much as it is an act of the Spirit. The Spirit works with out soul, as much as we wil allow Him to.

That’s why Galatians says, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

I need to allow the Spirit to nudge me with positive thoughts and bring to my remembrance scriptures, stories, and life experiences that clear away the negative thoughts so I can see God’s big picture.  The Spirit is my trainer and cut man in the octagon. Between rounds I go to corner and listen. Not talk about my opponent  Not talk about my injuries. Just listen.  He tells me where I am getting my clock cleaned and where I need to improve.

Encourage yourself in the Lord

“And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” KJV I Samuel 30:6

Most of us will not face the extremity of David’s plight. No one is talking about physically stoning us, if they are, call 911. Now. But, there are people who prepare, some daily, to throw their emotional, mental, and spiritual stones at us. We have to spit in the face of negative thoughts. Some say these thoughts are from the devil, I disagree, I think the devil simply puts a megaphone to our own inner voice and amplifies it to distort the voice of God.

For me, I say stuff out loud. I want me to hear it, God to hear it, and the devil to hear. I have to snatch the mega phone from the devils hand and protest my own discouragement with words, scriptures, chants, songs, and declarations. I feel like this releases a ton of negative energy and starts the renewing process in my mind.

That’s it. Pau’s guide to kicking discouragement in the groin. I don’t think that is allowed in a traditional MMA fight, but it is in the spiritual octagon of prayer.  Now, I am off to encourage myself and renew my mind. I hope you have a discouragement free day.

I share some thoughts on our enemy The Devil in an article about the Steve Pressman’s book Do The Work, where he refers to an invisible enemy called The Resistance.

Oh, and this pep talk from a 9 year old girl may help too.

 

 

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