I wrote a post the other day about throwing out our negative thinking. Statistically, it was one of the greatest posts I have written. It received more likes and shares than any other post directly from my blog. And yet I continue to talk to person after person struggling with this very concept. If I’m brutally honest, I often have this struggle myself. I know some of my thinking belongs in the dumpster…the women I talk to know it belongs in the dumpster…yet for whatever reason…it hangs around.
I have done research into the biological reasons behind this, theories regarding why it takes so long and such effort to change things, but I want to breeze past all of that today. Not because it’s not important stuff, it very much is. But because today I want to talk to you woman to woman – from the deepest place of my heart.
I read a statement the other day on the To Write Love on Her Arms website that said sometimes we must learn to give our distortions the respect they deserve. At first I thought, WHAT? No way! My distortions don’t deserve any respect. They cause me nothing but grief, pain, strife, and hours of battle upon battle. I will not respect them. They belong in the garbage dump! And they do belong in the garbage dump. But the more I thought about this statement it began to work it’s way into my heart.
What if I were to give these distortions the respect they deserved? What would that look like? What if I decided that the times the low growl of you are unloveable reverberates in my ears, I told myself it’s okay to feel unloveable in this moment. Not that it’s true. Because I am not unloveable. But given some of the things I have experienced, it makes sense that I might feel this way – right here, right now.
Or maybe your distortions tell you that you are not enough. Or that the world is against you. Or that things have gotten so bad that you just can’t take it anymore. Are these things true? No. But it feels super invalidating to immediately throw them in the garbage dump. Because in the moment, and in moments from the past, these messages may feel incredibly and completely true.
In giving our cognitive distortions just a moment of respect, even though they are not true, we allow ourselves the right to feel and think what we are feeling and thinking.
There have been times I have gone to throw I’m unloveable away and I just don’t want to – or it feels like I can’t. It feels too painful, and almost as if I am throwing away the part of me that experienced some very painful circumstances. And I don’t want to throw this part of me away. Although it’s a part that isn’t always pretty, it’s a part that is very raw and real – and in many ways has helped me become the person I am today.
Now we must be mindful that in giving our distortions the respect they deserve, we don’t give them more than they deserve. Because while these thoughts and emotions are very real – and the thoughts may have carried a nugget of truth at a certain time our life – they are not the truth now. You are loveable. You are enough. You can get through this. And the entire world is not against you. We must give the thoughts and feelings respect, but then decide that they don’t get to dictate our actions.
It’s a delicate balance, and not always easily achieved. But my hope is that in giving yourself the right to feel what you feel and think what you think based off of the things you have experienced, you will find some peace within the internal turmoil. That when that old thinking bubbles up, even when you thought you had gotten past it, you will be able to look at it and recognize it for what it is rather than going into a tailspin because you feel like a thought trashing failure.
Because you are not a failure. Anyone who had been through what you have been through, with your history-genetics-and all factors combined – would feel and think what you feel and think. And that is okay. It’s just not okay to let those trashy thoughts keep you from becoming who God says you are.
You are a holy, righteous, redeemed, beautiful daughter of the King who has very real feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Feelings, thoughts, and emotions that God gave you as a gift. They get tainted at times by things the world allows. But that is okay, because God makes all things new. You are a new creation in Him. The old has gone and the new has come. It doesn’t mean what happened doesn’t exist or deserve respect. It just means it doesn’t define who you are.