It is no secret that I love words. Words have weight and flavor. They can create, propel, release. They can just as easily cut, imprison and destroy. For me different kinds of word expressions are like different kind of art media. A text is a quick doodle on paper. An email is color drawing with nice pencils. Poetry, books and handwritten letters are true masterpieces; oil on canvas. They take time to create and time to dry and cure.
It is no mistake that in the Bible it says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Through him all things were made.” Before you dismiss this out of hand as just religious hyperbole consider the number of books (words) written about positive affirmations, self-talk, “name it and claim it” and Mindfulness (being aware of our own internal self-talk).
Our brain learns to sort, filter, dispose of or store the endless barrage of words we encounter every day. It is always looking for words to support the beliefs you have filed away in your brain. To go against this and allow contradictory information in makes us talk about things that are “mind blowing”.
I believe that we could all use a little “mind blowing”. Most of us at some time in our life have taken in words about ourselves that are hurtful, limiting or just erroneous. They cause us to doubt ourselves. We may have even put them into our filing system and pull them out periodically to repeat to ourselves.
It would be best if you start looking into your files now to figure out what lies your are believing. Don’t wait until crisis hits and you are believing that you can’t, won’t, shouldn’t. That isn’t the time to figure out that you have painted yourself into a corner. I’ll share with you one of the lies I was believing.
I believed that I was tough. That was my job. I have been told countless times that I am a strong woman. I believed that it was my job to care for my family and others. What ever they needed, regardless how I felt it was my job. I was raised by traditional parents who got their values from the Donna Reed/Leave it to Beaver/50’s era. On top of that I was fed a good dose of patriarchal “do unto others until it hurts, then keep doing” theology.
When I was in a new members class at a local church over a decade ago, we were shown a picture of a three ringed circus and asked which character we identified with. There was the ringmaster, acrobats, lion tamers and the right there were three elephants stacked up. The large elephant on the bottom looking out of the ring, the medium elephant stood on top of her looking at the ringmaster, and the smallest elephant on top. I immediately decided I was the bottom elephant. Supporting my family, aware of what was going on around me but always looking out and ahead for what is coming.
It took me until just recently to realize that this bottom elephant identity was a lie. That lie had me over-extending myself to the point of exhaustion many times. I still believe in “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The part I don’t believe is that Jesus would want me to feel obligated to do what was repeatedly harming me. I also have learned to incorporate sabbath into my routine in the form of time and activities that give me rest and recuperation.
Now on a day to day basis I am intentional about monitoring the thoughts I have about myself and the words I am speaking to myself. When I am starting see my to-do list pile up or feel overwhelmed I tell myself “I am not the bottom elephant”. What words are you speaking over yourself?