Want a productive challenge this week? Count the number of times you try to impress someone with your words, appearance, kindness, or generosity (You can add to the list). Then at the end of the weekend, look at your number. If it's more than zero, ask yourself, "Why am I intrinsically spring loaded to need the approval of others in order to feel that I have value and worth?" Here are some answers that might make your list:
1. Fear. The fear that we won't measure up. The feeling that we won't be accepted or liked. The fear that we don't (or won't) matter. The fear of conflict. The fear of rejection. Fear is a huge factor in the way we interact with and relate to one another on a daily basis.
2. Shame. The belief that I'm somehow interminably flawed. The belief that I'm not "enough," and never will be. Shame is a learned behavior that is usually deposited in us by parents who were hypercritical, angry, impatient, condescending, or who taught us that a performance-based life was the only life worth living. Consequently, we wear shame like a wet, heavy coat and don't know how to take it off. ( I can suggest a good book about that).*
3. Insecurity. It comes from not receiving validation, especially in childhood. Not enough "attaboys." Not enough "way to go's." It's the result of being told that others were smarter, prettier, better athletes, musicians, etc. "Your problem is that you just don't try hard enough, or you could be 'great' too." Ever hear those words?
4. Pride. Some people truly believe they're several notches above the rest of the sorry saps they have to put up with on a daily basis. They honestly think they're smarter, wiser, better-informed and more rational than virtually anyone else. They seem to honestly believe that "If more people were like me, the world would be such a better place." They constantly try to prove their superiority by impressing as many people as possible. It's their full-time job...almost a calling.
5. Poor self-esteem. This is the product of a life of comparisons, among other things. If we don't learn to see that we matter to God and are deeply loved by Him, then the only other way to feel good about ourselves is to compare ourselves with everyone else. Of course, we tend to compare ourselves with those who have more, look better, seem smarter, etc., which just adds to the malaise. The conclusion? "I'm just inadequate." Millions swim in that stream. Of course, the advertising industry thrives on it.
Well, you can add other things to the list, but these are the big rocks. So what's the solution? There are many, but for sake of brevity, here's the most important one: "Come to realize and accept the reality that you have no one to impress, and only One to please (God)." And understand, friend, that you are always enough in His sight because of His unconditional love. If you will OWN that as a philosophy of life, you can systematically eliminate the five things listed above. Yes, it will take time and a lot of work (getting out of unhealthy ruts always does), but start now and stay at it. Where we're going is always more important than where we've been.
Nothing's more true than that. His favorite hobby isn't being mad at you. Rather than weeping over your weaknesses and failures, He actually weeps over the fact that you don't realize the depths of His love...and you don't allow Him to love you more. This is life's greatest tragedy--to be unconditionally loved; then determine not to believe it or receive it.
Just take a moment and ponder that. Then reflect on it daily. My guess is...you'll have a wonderful week!