I Stink: Checking Myself Before I Wreck Myself
As I’m writing this I’m about to go on a walk/run around the neighborhood. Typically, when I exert a bit of energy, I sweat. As you know, sweat without immediate attention can cause odor. You’re probably wondering, “okay, where is she going with this?”
When I say that I stink, not only am I referring to what happens after a workout but also when I own up to my imperfections. I’m a recovering perfectionist so I once lived in a place of self-righteousness rooted in pride. And sometimes it attempts to show-up in my present life by way of complaining, refusing help, fault finding and judgement. I’m not one to say, “my stuff doesn't stink,” nor will I act like it doesn’t. So in summation, I stink.
Now that I’ve exposed myself, how do I move from acknowledging my shortcomings to addressing them to produce change?
I first get to the root of the issue. In this particular instance, pride is the culprit. According to Merrium-Webster, to be proud is to display excessive self-esteem. Pump your breaks, I already know what you’re thinking, “so you’re saying I can’t have self-esteem?” The problem isn’t self-esteem, it's EXCESS. When we go beyond limits, excess, we risk a good thing turning bad. For example, too much sugar can lead to tooth decay and diabetes.
Scripture often displays pride as evil (Proverbs 8:13), disgraceful (Proverbs 11:2), and leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18) and punishment (Proverbs 16:5).
Pride can lead us down the road of arrogance, stubbornness, contention and haughtiness. Too often when we’re operating from a prideful place we’re trying to prove our worth/value, intelligence, or abilities to others. And in some cases, we bring others down to lift ourselves. Most often than not, it's because we’ve been bullied or devalued by others hence the need to boost our own ego.
Second, I disrupt my thought patterns (2 Corinthians 10:5) and speak the truth aloud (Philippians 4:8 and Proverbs 18:4). When experiences become who we are, it makes sense that our value reflects an amusement park full of roller coasters. In the amusement park of our identity every roller coaster is an experience that has etched a description of who we are and who we aren’t. Consider this scenario, you mistakenly send the wrong report to your manager. Instead of seeing this misstep as a reminder to double check your attachments, you replay the mistake in your mind and call yourself “stupid.”
Disrupting our thought pattern, in this scenario, looks like separating the experience from our identity. In our recollection of the error, we accept it as a mistake and we choose to categorize it as an experience. The moment we make the experience a description of our identity, we seek to prove we’re not “stupid,” instead of improving when faced with a similar expectation in the future. When we prove our worth we tend to be excessive in our pursuit leading us closer to pride and conceit.
We can do this by meditating on God’s word (Joshua 1:8). Using scripture to remind us we have the mind of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:16) and to think of good things (Philippians 4:8) can further disrupt the mind chatter of negative self-talk.
When we speak the truth of who we are out loud, we reinforce the positive attributes of our identity and command our minds to follow suit. For example, instead of “I’m stupid,” we can use, “I made a common error. I am capable of fixing it.” Not only did we identify the mistake as an experience, we reinforced our value with a positive affirmation. In everything we must remember, who and whose we are, 1 Peter 2:9.
Lastly, create a tangible reminder of your new way of thinking and speaking. This in turn births a shift in behavior (James 1:22).
I personally love affirmations, especially on sticky notes around my house. Daily, I declare my choice to G.O. B.R.A.V. E.
- Growth: To challenge myself mentally (Colossian 3:2).
- Optimism: To expect the best (Romans 8:28).
- Boldness: To get out of my own way and take risks (Joshua 1:9).
- Resilience: To be flexible in adversity and change (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
- Authenticity: To be unapologetically me (1 Peter 2:9).
- Victory: To overcome my fears and use them as fuel (1 Corinthians 15:57).
- Empowerment: To support others to Go Brave (Luke 10:19)!
Also, journaling my affirmations is an exploratory method I use to reinforce my new behavior. It keeps a record of my progress of change. As a result, I’ve discovered that pride has little, if any room to grow when I choose to serve others. It's the transformation to self-full, a unique balance between selfish and selfless. Or as C.S. Lewis would put it, “not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
Instead of carrying an unbearable stench, I exude a sweet aroma (2 Corinthians 2:14-15) that effortlessly attacks the root, shifts perspective and applies love to self and others. Oh and if you're wondering, a luffa with a generous amount of Bath and Body Works shower gel usually zaps the workout funk.