When was the last time you dedicated yourself to pursuing a dream?
Followed an impulse to reach out to someone you didn’t know–but wanted to?
Said what you really wanted to say?
Held your tongue to let a powerful moment unfold?
If you’re like the rest of us (and I’ll bet you are), you have dreams and talk yourself out of them. You make big plans and fail to follow through. You play it safe most of the time in your relationships, protecting yourself and keeping others from seeing your core–some of the truest parts of you, which you’re not sure are good enough for love or acceptance.
Perhaps, like most of us, you’re listening to the wrong voices.
As a coach, one of my tasks is to help people recognize some of the lies they tell themselves–and to help them make the choice to stop believing them. These lies bounce around in people’s heads, echoing and reechoing and dampening the process of change. These lies are often spoken aloud in conversation, and listening for them has startled me. I’m realizing we all tell ourselves a lot of lies. And our internal voices are shockingly non-creative; they tend to repeat themselves and to sound eerily similar to what our friends and neighbors are also telling themselves.
Sometimes these internal voices are subtle, and that’s when they’re most convincing. But usually they’re not subtle at all–or even quiet. They echo in our heads and tell us things like “You’re not enough,” “You have no idea what you’re doing,” and “You don’t deserve to be loved.” We tell ourselves we should be ashamed, we must keep hiding, we’re not strong enough.
The funny thing is, most of us would never say these things to other people. But when we say them to ourselves, we say them with confidence. And when we hear them from within ourselves, we so often fail to question them. Maybe we trust ourselves too much. Or maybe the lying voices sound like people we have trusted and needed for a long time–people we grew up listening to. They may carry credibility because they were reinforced by hurtful experiences or painful disappointments. They may sound like the voices of people we encountered only briefly, under conditions that made their messages echo powerfully and destructively in our lives.
Regardless of their source, we can choose to stop listening to these voices and instead listen to the life-giving messages of those who love us. We can listen to the encouragement we receive from strangers. We can listen to the voice of Christ, who has told us what he wants for us: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10). The voice of the Spirit of God, who loves to produce in us “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). We can investigate what the Bible says about God’s purpose for our lives. (Try doing a search for “purpose” on Bible Gateway.) We can listen to what we have learned from our journey with God and in the quiet moments when we dare to hear what he speaks to our spirits.
I absolutely love helping people recognize and question their voices of self-sabotage. I love seeing them choose truth and let it permeate them to a degree that it actually changes the way they live. Coaching is not counseling, therapy, spiritual direction, or pastoral care. It’s no substitute for any of these relationships. It’s a different process, but it’s no less potentially powerful. When a relationship highlights the discrepancy between what we say is important to us and what is actually reflected in the way we live, transformation can happen and our lives can expand.
Listening to lies will shrink our lives every time. It will keep us bound to fear with chains made of “shoulds” and “can’ts” and “not enough.” It will keep us blind to our gifts and desires and focused on what we don’t have rather than on what we do. Much is possible when we see what we have and embrace the way God has made us. Even more is possible when we trust God, live by faith, and make ourselves available to do what he wants us to do. We are all called to leave a mark on this world, and too many of us are letting it mar us instead.
What do you need to stop believing? What might be possible if you do?
© 2014 Amy Simpson.