Sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference.
Take for instance when I was teaching: My student standardized test scores at the end of my first year were low, and I knew I needed to improve those. After attending a workshop on teaching strategies, I did some serious praying and realized that I was doing too much of the work for my students. I was reading the text and explaining and analyzing — apparently to an audience of air — because while all of my brilliant discussion was going on most of my students were daydreaming about what they were going to eat for lunch.
So, I replaced some of my teacher-centered activities with more student-centered ones. Rather than only have students listen to a story and fill out teacher-generated questions, I had them read portions of the story on their own and record their observations and notes in dialogue journals, two-column notes, and story maps. The change was really a simple one for me: I didn’t have to come up with all of the questions for the stories and could use fabricated graphic organizer templates, merely changing up the categories depending on the assignment.
That small adjustment paid off for me in a big way in my test scores the next few years.
Replacing Negative Thoughts With God’s Truth
I’ve found a similar principle to be true in my spiritual life as well: Sometimes minute tweaks can have a big impact. One small but big change that has begun to transform my thought life is simply taking God at His word and believing and speaking His truth over myself.
I didn’t even realize until recently that I was allowing my mind to be infiltrated by lies from the enemy. The area that I was allowing Him to infiltrate the most was in the area of my self-worth.
Somewhere around the time I was 11 or 12, I began to speak negative words over myself. The tape that I had playing in my head sounded like this: There is something wrong with you. No one likes you. You’re not pretty. You’re not enough. You aren’t smart like other people. Obviously, most adolescents do have negative thoughts running through their minds as their bodies change; however, I clung onto these words as absolute truth and let them stay with me into adulthood.
What I didn’t know at the time is that I always had a choice and didn’t know it. I chose to get into agreement with the devil about my self-worth, and by allowing degrading words to invade my thoughts throughout the day, I began to feel really badly about myself. I felt shame and imagined rejection in all of my relationships.
The words began to affect my health and my sense of well-being. All the time that I was letting this internal tape play, I was literally speaking curses over myself and impairing my ability to have successful relationships because I was so insecure and needy.
The simple truth I came across at the age of 34 was this: To change how I felt about myself, I had to start accepting what God said about me and begin to speak those truths over myself. As Joyce Meyer advocates in Approval Addiction, the only way Satan’s lies can destroy me is if I get into agreement with the lies and out of agreement with God’s truth. As Meyer says:
According to Paul’s letter to the Romans, God is for us. We also know that Satan is against us. The question we must ask is are we going to get into agreement with God or with the devil? You know the answer. Stop being against yourself just because Satan is against you!
The truth that I started to speak over myself is this: I am loved. I am forgiven. I am beautiful. God created works for me to do in advance. He has a plan for me and my life.
You might be reading this, thinking: That’s it? That’s how you revolutionized the way you thought about yourself? Yep! It’s hard to believe that such a simple change could truly make me love myself after years of rejecting the creation God had made.
There are still times the ugly lies present themselves and my confidence is shaken — when I fail or make a mistake and the harsh words of others remind me of my past or my downfalls. Yet, when I hear those old familiar phrases coming back to wreak havoc, I know to resist them.
As a result, I feel happier and more refreshed. I have the confidence to put myself out there in new relationships because I don’t have to fear the risk of rejection.
Meyer comments on the self-assuredness we can have in Christ if we refuse to allow Satan to attack us:
Satan works through people as well as independently. He attacks our confidence through the things people say or don’t say … If people’s opinions, judgments and attitudes toward us are sometimes inspired by the devil, instead of agreeing with what they think and say, we must resist it. If we know God is for us, then it shouldn’t matter how we feel, or what people think of us.
Refusing to Believe Lies About Your Self-Worth
I encourage you to be honest with yourself right now: What are the lies you are speaking over yourself? What have people said about you that might be crippling your confidence and ability to step out into a fulfilling life? How might you be different if you begin to take God at His word and believe that you are a special and precious creation with a unique purpose for your life?
The antidote to the crippling deception of the enemy is to stand firm against those lies and instead dwell on God’s truth. And, as Meyer concludes in her chapter, “Once we understand how God sees us through Christ, we can refrain from caring about what people think about us, and feeling bad about ourselves. ”
Truths to Help You Feel Better About Yourself
When you feel reminded of your bad choices: Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
When you feel bad about your appearance: Psalm 139:3: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
When you feel like your life has no purpose: Jeremiah 29:11: ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”
When others come against you: Romans 8:31: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
When you feel unloved: Romans 8:37: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor the future … will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Charles Stanley, a pastor and author, suffered rejection as a child and has written extensively about the damaging effects of rejection and self-rejection. Click here for his devotional on self-rejection featured on Crosswalk online magazine.
Have you experienced rejection and, as a result, find yourself trying to perform to avoid rejection from those around you? Do you have a hard time standing up for yourself or saying no because you fear others’ reactions? Joyce Meyer talks about how to not let the desire for others’ approval dominate your life in Approval Addiction: Overcoming Your Need to Please Everyone.
*Updated and adapted from a post originally published December 13, 2014.