I Am A Ray: Overcoming Worthlessness

When my focus isn’t about me, as much as loving the world around me, it somehow comes back to give me a healthy self-esteem. 

I Am A RayI have opportunity to speak with many people about the struggles of life.  Often, at the very root of it, is a false belief of “I have no value”, “I am worthless”, or “I have nothing to offer”.  Women, particularly beautiful, gifted and kind women, struggle to see their beauty because it feels prideful to see it.  This belief causes depression, ruins relationships, and stops them before they get to the starting line.

I’d like to offer a word picture that is a mentally beneficial place to stay in terms of a healthy self-esteem.  Picture yourself as one ray coming off the sun and God as the ball of fire.  When we can see ourselves this way, we can acknowledge the uniqueness of our ray, while recognizing the beauty of it is coming from the ball of fire.  The ray’s purpose is to bring light and heat to the world.  Each ray is a unique expression of the ball of fire and therefore one ray cannot compare itself to any other ray.  Every ray is vital, because if there were only one ray of light and heat to the world, it would be a very cold, dark and colorless world.  It also allows us to celebrate every ray.

I developed a certain mantra in my later teens, which I believe has served me well for many years; do what I can, with what I got, and move on.  It has helped me to not take myself so seriously.  It’s not good to hide my ray underneath a shroud of worthlessness waiting for the world to discover it.  But it is good to take whatever natural qualities I have been created with and develop them.  I am to study well, foster hobbies, mature character, nurture health, and dress for success.  And then shine my ray (which stems from the ball of fire) to light and heat the world around me.  It therefore, becomes less about me, and more about seeing how God shows up and does amazing things.  When my focus isn’t about me, as much as loving the world around me, it somehow comes back to give me a healthy self-esteem.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  So, if you are looking to others to find acceptance and validation, you open yourself to an insatiable vortex that can never be filled.  You also open yourself up to be manipulated and coerced by those who also have an insatiable vortex within them.  There will always be some who don’t want what you have to offer.  There will be others who ridicule and demean what you have developed.  Your self-esteem takes care of itself as you use your gifts and talents to light and heat the world, but not if you become someone else in order to find approval.  Remember, Jesus WAS perfect and there were those who hated him, so you have to figure you won’t be able to please everyone.

Psalm 139 is a beautiful psalm which speaks to how God is intimately acquainted with you, having formed you in your mother’s womb.  And in Eph. 2:10 that God created you for good works.  It was the intention of God to create you specifically.

1 Cor. 12 shows that we are individually members of a body, with unique gifts.  We are not individuals apart from others, but we are individuals in concert with others. But, when you try to find your identity through effort to appease others in relationships, work, appearance, possessions, or reputation, you are not offering your identity but you are allowing your identity to be stolen. 

You also don’t have to be the most talented, the smartest, or the most dynamic person on a given subject to be able to offer it to others.  You can’t compare, because you have been placed in a particular time, in a particular place, in a particular setting to heat and light your world.  Accept the fact there will be others who are more attractive, wiser, have more talents, and have insanely dynamic personalities.  Be inspired by them.  Then, move on…to love the world around you.

If you know someone (or ten someones) who might struggle with feeling worthless or just a lack of purpose, would you consider sharing this with them to encourage them.  The world needs their ray.  The world needs your ray.

#IAmARay  #ShineBright

When It’s Hard to Believe

I wondered why I was having such a difficult time believing I couldn’t do this.

When It's Hard To Believe
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

Once again, I was sitting at a computer trying to figure out how to get a video to play from the internet, through a projector and onto the screen.  Seemed to me that this should be a simple task.  But I’ve struggled with this more than once. And, if I’m going to be honest, I’ve probably struggled with it a dozen times.

So, I contacted our amazing, can-do-anything-on-a-computer tech guy with, “I realize I’ve probably asked you this before, and I think I know the answer, I’m just having a hard time believing the answer.  Is there no possible way to play a video from  the internet, through our program, onto the screen in the multi-purpose room?”  His answer was “nope.”

I sat there for a few minutes trying to wrap my mind around his answer.  Really?  In the 21st century, when computers can do ANYTHING, I can’t do this?  I wondered why I was having such a difficult time believing I couldn’t do this.

And then it dawned on me.  I’m having a hard time accepting “nope” because I don’t want to believe it.  I WANT to play this video for an audience on a particular night.  I want this computer, this little intangible, life-sucking thing, to do what I want it to do.

And then all the connections started to make sense.  This is why someone has a hard time believing how their spouse’s brooding, cold-shoulder is devastating their family.  This is why a person may have a hard time owning their resentment and hatred for their spouse.  This is why a parent can’t wrap their minds around the fact that their teenaged child is making (poor) decisions on their own and they can’t control them anymore.  And this is why an adult child can’t stop trying to please a destructive parent.  There are reasons we hold on to what we hold on to.  If we believed it, we’d have to stop trying to make something happen.  We would need to stop trying to suck love out of someone who can’t give it.  And it hurts to let go of what we want.   

In letting go of my little computer struggle I found freedom.  Freedom to not try to come up with ways to get it done and freedom to find alternative solutions.   I can’t make the computer do what it’s not capable of doing.  When I was able to accept the reality of my situation, I was able to stop spinning in circles and move forward.  

It’s Time To Think Differently

So if there is a thinking pattern you have developed that isn’t helping your life, it’s time to think differently.  

Changing Our Minds
Photo Credit: Hilary Storm

Beliefs are very personal.  You believe what you believe and your beliefs drive your emotions.  You may even die for your beliefs.  And yet, if you’ve lived past a couple of decades you will have to admit that some of your beliefs have changed over the years.  They are not stagnant.  You’ve put old beliefs to the test and they failed so you’ve come to believe new things.  Or as you learn more about yourself and the world around you, you realize that maybe a belief you once held onto so dearly is no longer true.  It’s called maturing. (Young people can ask anyone over 40 if this is true.)  

I love what Graham Cooke says, “If the way that you are thinking does not allow you to feel good about who God is for you, it’s time to have another thought because that one is irrelevant, out-of-date and useless, and you are proving it all the time!”

While sometimes you can recognize that a belief system isn’t working for you, and you may even acknowledge that it isn’t true, it can come from an emotional place and therefore difficult to willfully change.  False belief systems often come from hurtful or traumatic events and sit in our limbic system (the emotional part).   Thinking patterns like ‘I’m not enough’, ‘I must be happy or people won’t like me’, ‘I’m not smart enough’, or any of a hundred other lies will always produce negative results in our life.  (See list at the bottom of this post for a partial list of lies you might possibly believe.)

Caroline Leaf is a scientist who has studied the brain for almost 30 years.  In her book Switch On Your Brain, she details her research on the dynamics for changing your thought life.  Apparently, scientists can now see toxic thinking patterns and healthy thinking patterns on MRI’s.  Mind Blown!  Click here for a video of her speaking on changing your toxic thinking. It is well worth the hour to listen to it.  Her theory is that it takes 21 days to develop a new neuro brain pathway and you can change any thinking pattern.

If you don’t believe me (or Caroline Leaf), think about the entire advertising industry.  It exists to change your mind to think that this thing-a-ma-jig or that whatcha-ma-call-it are amazing!  It manipulates your desires.  The news industry’s claim to fame is not to just report what has happened, but to shape our culture through opinion about what has happened.  Our minds, thoughts, and opinions are being conformed all the time.

So if there is a thinking pattern you have developed that isn’t helping your life, it’s time to think differently.  To help with the process of changing a thought pattern, I have developed a 21-day Plan.  It asks you questions, gives you creative tasks, connects you to people, and gives you assignments all pointed in helping you change a toxic thinking pattern in just 10 minutes a day.  I’m not sure I’m ready to say it can change any and every thinking pattern, but in the dozens of times I’ve handed it out and used it myself it hasn’t failed yet when used for 21 consecutive days.  The magic isn’t in any particular activity in the plan.  The magic happens because you go back to the root every day, for 21 days, and choose to adopt a True Belief System.  The repetition is what breaks the toxic thinking so it doesn’t work if you do a ‘catch-up day’ and do 7 days at a time.  If you would like a FREE copy of it fill out the form below.  If the form isn’t showing up then you can email projecthopeidaho@gmail.com and I will email it to you.  

“No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you more than you do.” (Paul Tripp, You Talk To Yourself).   

Below is only a partial list of the hundreds of lies people commonly believe.  These are statements that come from an emotional/reactive part of your brain.  You might cognitively know these are lies, but emotionally you react as though the lie is true.  If there’s something in your life that is a problem, then there is probably a lie at the root of the problem.  If these lies don’t resonate with you, find a counselor or a trusted friend to help you discover the lie you are believing.  The Truth is what sets you free.

God is against me

If I’m really known I won’t be liked

I can’t trust anyone or I don’t need anyone

If I speak up no one will listen

I’m a victim

I’m superior to others

If I don’t feel I won’t hurt

I have no worth

My worth is in my looks, intelligence, ability to…

God won’t be there when I need Him

I’m not smart enough

I can’t cope without…(chemicals, food, something to do, my entertainment, etc.)

I can’t change

I can do recovery myself

Rules don’t apply to me

God doesn’t love me or care about my problems

Some sins are not forgivable

I don’t deserve to be happy or I don’t deserve good things

I can do it myself, I don’t need anyone

Whatever I do won’t be good enough

I am responsible for other people’s thoughts, actions, feelings

I’m a disappointment

My needs are not important

If I heal emotionally, it will mean…(it didn’t matter, the offender gets off, etc)

All men/women/ethnic group are alike

If I leave everything will fall apart and it will be my fault

I’m gross, dumb, the sum of my flaws

God is waiting for me to blow it so He can punish me

I will always be alone or I’m not worthy of friendships

If I stop to rest I’ll pay later

Having emotions is bad

I must do things perfectly or I’m a failure

God will betray me

I can’t show my weakness or people will reject me

Or any of a hundred other lies….