Who Do You Think You Are?
While you’ve been reading and responding in this dare, you’ve had hundreds of little thoughts running through your head. Some have been about yourself, some are about me, about guys, girls, your parents, your friends, what’s due at work or school tomorrow… the list is endless.
And right now, you may be wondering what that has to do with anything.
They’re just thoughts, right?
Here’s why I’m pointing it out: all day long, we tell ourselves little stories, interpreting our circumstances into positive or negative thoughts. Inside our head, through conversation with ourselves, we create our perception of reality – this impacts our relationships with everyone.
Say for example, you text a friend and she doesn’t respond right away. The way you think about that interaction (or lack of) determines how you’ll perceive whatever she texts back when she finally does. If you think to yourself, “She doesn’t really like me that much, anyway. She is probably hanging out with someone else, like Stephanie, who is way funnier than I am…” you will probably read her return text through a negative lens.
The way we carry on that conversation within our own head, and our ability to transfer that conversation into one we hold with God instead of ourselves as our own advisor impacts how we experience our entire life.
The ability to be aware of our own thoughts and the impact they have on us is the most important first step toward growth and maturity.
And who doesn’t want to be mature?
The ongoing conversation we have with ourselves in our head is the heart of how we experience relationship with God, ourselves, and others. If we’re constantly streaming fear, judgment, anger, etc., instead of tuning in to what God is saying, we’re missing out on the greatest opportunity in the universe.
There’s a verse in the Bible, Proverbs 23:7, the first part of which reads, For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Essentially that verse explains that we become what we think about. Here are a few other verses that reinforce that notion:
He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.
Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
I Corinthians 14:20
Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.
If you’ve read 12 Truths to Change Your Marriage (Greater Impact, 2014), you are aware of the huge correlation between healthy thought patterns and mature, adult behavior. If we do not actively choose to continue growing in our faith, knowledge, and wisdom, we stay immature as people.
As we grow, we become more aware of how our selfish thoughts lead to selfish behaviors, and as a result, how our behaviors affect others. The first step in the maturity process is called, “self-awareness.” This is different than being “self-focused.” Self-focus involves pride, ego, self-centeredness, low self-esteem, etc. and has negative effects.
Self-awareness basically means we know ourselves well enough to interact in healthy ways – with ourselves and others. It’s the awareness of how our behaviors, or lack thereof, affect ourselves and others.
It’s a rather simple concept that all children begin to develop as they mature into adulthood. As adults, we continue to become more self-aware as we grow spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. Choosing not to grow as an adult will stifle our maturity in our relationships with God, ourselves, and others. Choosing to stay self-focused instead of becoming self-aware will negatively impact all of our relationships.
Essentially, if you bully others, are defensive, controlling, are passive aggressive, grandiose, or have behavior changes that are noticed by others and denied by you, you may have some serious issues with whether or not you are self-aware.
Without self-awareness, we can’t possibly own our behaviors, respond positively to others when they have an issue with us, or improve and repair relationships through empathy, apology, and forgiveness. We do not behave like grown-ups in our relationships.
For example, let’s say you are backing out of a parking space at a busy grocery store. You look behind you both ways as you pull out, but you don’t see the kid riding the cart full of groceries at full speed. Thankfully, and of benefit to both of you, he sees you pulling out in time to jump off and stop the cart. He’s scared and angry, and scowls at you.
At this point, you have three options, and you may or may not be aware of them.
First, if you are self-aware, you’ll realize that your behavior negatively impacted this kid, and he contributed to the situation as well. It doesn’t matter who was wrong, the truth is that when you moved the car, you made a contribution to the problem. You realize this, roll down your window, ask him if he’s okay, tell him you’re sorry, and you let him know you didn’t see him – and his mother, who is right behind him looking relieved, will hopefully take care of instructing him on the safer practices of grocery cart wrangling. You may think about the incident later, but in a way that is neutral, rather than condemning of either of you.
Second, if you are not self-aware, you choose a negative attitude, maybe glare back at the kid, say a few choice words to your passengers about “stupid kids these days.” Perhaps you even go so far as to roll down your window and lecture him about his clear lack of intelligence and complete disregard for safety. You may even throw a snarly comment or two at his mom. The bottom line is that you do not see your contribution to the situation – you blame the kid for all of it. When you think about the incident later, you remember it with the same blaming attitude, telling yourself that the kid and his mother are better off because you let them have a piece of your mind. You may fill your head with a few more self-righteous thoughts about how you can’t believe what a terrible mom she was, letting him do that in the first place, and another thought about how you maybe even prevented a greater tragedy by showing this kid the peril of his ways. You have little to no empathy or understanding of what the kid may have felt (carefree – then scared) and blame him 100%.
Third, if you are not-self-aware, you over-react with blaming yourself for the entire situation, maybe even getting out of the car to apologize profusely to the kid, taking all of the blame for the regrettable incident, blind to the contribution that he made by riding the cart fast in a parking lot. You may even argue with him or his mom when they say something apologetic about his lack of attention to his speed or your tail lights. You “own” something that’s not yours to own – 100% of the blame. When you think of the situation later, you say things to yourself like, “How could I have been so stupid not to see him!” or, “I am terrible at driving – something like this always happens to me,” or, “I can’t believe how dumb I am – I can’t even get out of a parking lot without half-killing someone.”
Obviously the first option is the only healthy one in this circumstance.
Having an awareness of self means that we can see what is true – and not just with our contributions, but those of others as well. We realize our behaviors affect others, have empathy for them, and see the whole truth of the situation – instead of a half-truth or a full lie. We also see that we are worthy of respect in situations, and while others are not to blame for 100% of the incident, neither are we.
Being self-aware results in respect for others,
& respect for ourselves.
There are also going to be times when we are not responsible in any way for something that happens to us – there is wisdom in knowing when these times are, and not assuming all situations fit this category. If your house is hit by a meteor – you are not responsible for that. If a car plows through your front bay window and destroys a room in your house – not your fault. If you are born with dyslexia, a cleft palette, an auto-immune disease – these things are not your fault, either. We should be able to see even in these situations, however, that how we choose to think about them, regardless of who is “responsible” – can impact a lot, especially our relationships with ourselves and others, including God.
What About You?
How do these verses and thoughts affect you as you ponder them? Take a few moments to respond to these questions in your journal:
•What verse spoke the loudest to you today? Why do you think that is?
• Where do you think you fall in the “self-awareness spectrum?” In other words, to you take all the blame, blame others, or see both sides during conflicts?
• Think of your last disagreement with someone you love. How did you react in terms of what we’ve talked about? Did you blame? Did you have empathy?
• How important is it to you to be right in your interactions? Why do you think that is?
• Has blaming others (defensiveness) damaged or cost you relationally? How?
• Has owning too much of the responsibility damaged your relationship with yourself? How has that impacted your relationships with others?
• Have things you were not responsible for negatively impacted your relationships with God, yourself, or others? How? If you apply the verses to those situations, how does your heart line up with the Word?
• What do you think God wants you to do with these learnings today?
Pray with me?
Dear God, give me eyes to see and ears to hear. As Your Word says in Philippians 4:8, we are to think about the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy, and excellent. Proverbs 11:27 reminds us that if we look for evil, we will find it. Help my heart be pure. Your Word in Jeremiah 17:9-10 reminds us that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick – we can’t understand it. “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” God, this truth is scary to me, because I know my heart is black as they come. Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. Your Word has so much to say about our hearts! Luke 6:45 reminds me that the good person, out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Lord, help me guard my heart and protect it from evil thoughts, evil impressions from music, TV, videos, social media… all those other things I put more of than You into it. Help me choose wisely the influences I allow. Help me focus on seeing myself and others the way You do, through the lens of the Holy Spirit and the coverage of Jesus Christ. Thank You that His blood covers the multitude of my sins and makes a way for me to be with You in this Now, and after death. Like Jesus grew in stature and wisdom with You and with men, help me grow up, God. I Corinthians 14:20 says that we are to stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. Help me mature in my thinking, Lord. Help me be self-aware such that I see my contribution to problems, have empathy for others, but also see what is true about their contributions as well. Show me the truth, God. Help me think like Jesus. It’s in His Name I pray. Amen.
After reading your letter to yourself from the last dare (you’re supposed to be doing that every single day – which you may not know because I added that just now), make a “thought confession list” detailing where your thoughts typically fall out of line with Scripture. Be specific, ie: “I ate the last cupcake and totally blamed my brother for having two yesterday. I ignored that I actually did eat the last cupcake, and didn’t offer to share…okay, actually, I even hid when I ate it and then denied it later when he asked me about it.” In prayer, ask God for forgiveness for these things. Go to the people you have wronged, and ask them for forgiveness.
If you have wronged yourself by taking 100% of the blame for situations, list those out as well, then in prayer, ask God to help you forgive yourself. Ask God for help in responding to life situations in more healthy ways, regardless of which extreme you may swing. Ask Him to help you have a clean heart and bring to mind situations during your days to help you be aware of these things.
Share what you have done with a prayer partner or close friend, asking them to check in with you now and again to see if you are doing better in this area.
Be sure to share here some of your big A-HA!! moments, & comment on others’ responses in an encouraging way – if you’ve taken our eCourse, you are familiar with this type of encouragement experience.
By the way, we have a new group starting this week – TODAY-STYLE – if you are a married woman and haven’t done our Respect Dare eCourse, you should, especially if you haven’t got a group nearby that you can join. We’re doing something really special this round – I absolutely LOVE this – Sandi, the “Dean of Respect Dare University,” and I are doing these 15-30 minute calls each week and I’ll be answering questions – this round only. I hope you’ll join us – we have a bunch of women who already got in this week, I think they’re planning on Dare #1 for today. 🙂
Love to you,
Oh, and if you got this as an email forward from a friend who cares about you and your family, know we’d love YOU to join us on this journey. The road is long and hard, and often paved with tears, but worth traveling – and you’re not alone.
You can get marriage TIPS! articles, a free copy of my eBook, 101 Ways to Respect Your Husband, and other marriage info here. I’ll be taking down the 101 Ways eBook in the next week or so and putting up a new eBook, so grab it while you can. We promise not to share your email with anyone, ever. You’ll get just one or two TIPS! articles a week, plus a blog post as they come, usually 1-2 a week.
If you are just joining us, these might be of interest, too: