Do you ever catch yourself overthinking something you’ve said or done that’s left you feeling really bad about yourself?
You think “I really wish I never said those things.” Or “I knew it was wrong. Why did I do it? I feel so guilty and yuck about myself. I'm such a bad person!”
It’s easy for us all to think back on times we could have made wiser choices or been a better person. However, what’s done is done. It’s over. It’s past tense. As much as we wish we could, we don’t get to magically turn back time to erase the past and to live those hours over. So what we do instead is this: We drag our past blunders into our present. We press the replay button over and over choosing to over analyse and over think our worst moments. We own these moments and then mistakingly believe they're part of our identity. We believe the lie that we are the sum of all the things we do.
We believe this lie: Because I've done bad things, I am a bad person.
I caught myself doing just this the other week. I willingly stepped into a conversation I knew was unhealthy and easily played my part in complaining about something I had no intention of changing. At the time I felt justified in stating my point and moaning about it. In the moment it felt so right and oh so good! Yet later that evening thinking back, I really wished I had stayed clear away. I wished I had not said a word. I wished I'd simply kept my mouth shut and walked away. Next thing I knew I was cursing and rehearsing the conversation over and over which made me feel worse and worse. It didn't take long before my mood became so grumpy even I didn't want to be with me, let alone anyone else!
The problem was that by the time I realised where my thoughts had taken me, I’d wasted an entire hour of precious family time on this mess in my head! What a waste!
So how do we stop giving away valuable time to chaotic, unhelpful and self-critical thinking?
These three steps have helped me and I know they'll help you too.
1. Accept your choices won't be perfect all of the time.
You will make mistakes. You will mess up. You will fall short of your own expectations. We all do. Remind yourself that not everything you do is a reflection of who you are. I may say stupid stuff, but that doesn’t make me a stupid person, and the same goes for you too.
2. Reframe your not-so-stellar moments.
Rather than cursing and rehearsing your failures, and beating yourself up about how bad you are - acknowledge those not-so-stellar moments as growth areas. See them as moments of feedback and opportunity to learn to do things better next time. Rather than looking back and feeling bad, focus your attention on how you could move forward and do things differently to avoid a next time.
3. Remember: God speaks to the person you are becoming, not to who you’ve been.
Philippians 1:6 reminds us this :" I am fully convinced that the one who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue to put His finishing touches to it..."
Next time you find yourself wasting precious moments believing the lie that you are bad, rather remember these great truths about you:
- God in you is greater than any of your mishaps!
- You are NOT the sum of the things you do - You are who God says you are.
If your identity is something you struggle with, then I'd love to work with you to help you to see more clearly who God says you are. Click this link to find out more >>