You Are Not Defined by Your Circumstances
You Are Not Defined by Your Circumstances
5 Ways to Remind Yourself of Truth
Brené Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging—something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”
It is easy to allow our circumstances or struggles to cause us to shrink back in shame. That shrinking back can leave us with feelings of being unwanted or unworthy. Whether consciously or not, we have all probably felt not good enough based on our internal or external struggles. Suffering exists when we forget who we truly are, and fall into this seemingly never-ending trap of shame.
However, what would it look like to live a life full of the knowledge of who we are? Would we be trapped inside of shame? Or would we be free in relationship with ourselves and others? Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” The word “masterpiece” translates to the word “poema.” Therefore, we are God’s poems! If you know anything about poetry, you know that it is complex with many different layers. It takes time and patience to write and understand poetry.
That is who we are to the Creator of the Universe! We are God’s poems! The Creator took time to create every part of you. He knows and understands the multiple and complex layers of what makes you, you. Sit in that truth for just a moment. Why hide in shame from your struggles? You are a masterpiece.
You might start to wonder how you can fully live out of this place of knowing your true identity. When struggles, both external and internal, come up it is hard to remember these truths of who you are. I totally get it! But there are small adjustments we can make throughout our days to remind us of truth in the midst of struggle.
Here are five tips to help remind you of truth. When you want to hide, here is how you can remind yourself to live out of your true identity:
# 1: Speak truth constantly
When struggles and hardship come up, it can be hard to find the strength to remind yourself of truth. This is often due to the fact that throughout our everyday—the good and the bad—we struggle to find the words of truth. I don’t know about you, but my self-talk habits aren’t always positive. In fact, they are mostly negative. My husband will sometimes stop me and remind me that I would never speak to someone else in the ways that I speak to myself. We can be so hard on ourselves, especially when hardships and struggles come up. When sorrow comes our way, we revert back to poor self-talk habits. If we are used to tearing ourselves down, it will take us a lot longer to remind ourselves of who we truly are when we need it the most. The goal here is to remind yourself of truth in every moment of every day. That starts with waking up and speaking God’s truth over your day. When you look in the mirror after a long night’s sleep, your hair is every which way, and your morning breath is like no other, remind yourself that you are a masterpiece! How you speak to yourself in the little moments will come out in the big moments. What would it look like for you to speak truth constantly?
# 2: Differentiate thoughts from reality
When we are caught up in shame and negative self-talk, its easy to create a blurred line between our thoughts and reality. It becomes easy to assume that everyone around us must also think so negatively about us. One sentence that I use to stop myself from blurring reality is, “This is my _______, not reality.” Fill in that blank with whatever you are feeling: insecurity, worry, doubt, anger, grief, etc. This simple phrase will begin to pull back the curtains so that you can begin to see the truth that is right in front of you. The people you love are for you and not against you.
# 3: Empty out the lies
When we are feeling shame from circumstances or struggles, it's easy to hide and shut out those around us. One way to remind yourself of truth is by speaking the lies you are hearing to someone else. This act of emptying those lies out allows someone else into your mind and simultaneously reminds you that you are not alone. A moment of honest vulnerability can be scary. It's letting someone into the places that sometimes you yourself don’t want to go. However, this act also requires that you actually listen to what they have to say back! I know it may be easy to speak your thoughts out loud, yet as soon as someone else begins speaking truth over you, we disqualify their words. It can be extremely hard to hear someone else remind you of truth, but it can also be extremely profound and life-changing! Allow someone else to fully see you, know you, and remind you of truth. Hear what they have to say to you in response. Fully allow them to help you empty out those lies from your mind, refuse them and pour truth into you instead.
# 4: Advocate for yourself
We receive constant messages throughout the day that will try to bring you into the hole of shame. When we believe these lies, we miss the opportunity to live out the fullness of our identity. These messages can come from friends, family, the media, co-workers, bosses, etc. After an ongoing experience with a coworker who made me feel foolish with the way he spoke to me, I realized how wrong it was and stood up for myself whenever it occurred. He never fully realized that his words tore me down and would make me question if I had anything good to say. Advocating for myself brought me new strength. Becoming aware of the ways someone or something is tearing you down can remind you to stand up and advocate for yourself. Don’t allow someone to talk down to you and make you feel less than. Avoid mindlessly scrolling through social media until you feel awful about how you look. Address a comment made by a friend that stings. Stand up, speak out, and remind others who you truly are. All the while reminding yourself of your worth.
# 5: Remind yourself of your strength
Whether or not you believe this to be true about yourself, you are strong. The same Power who created the universe, lives and breathes in you! Not only that, but that same Power looks at you and says, “Wow!” You are strong and you are powerful. When you begin to feel yourself refusing to believe the truth of who you are, do something to remind yourself of the true strength that is within you. Learn something new and remind yourself that your mind can do powerful things. Look back on old photos and remind yourself of how far you have come. Exercise and feel the powerful heart that is beating in your chest. Actively pursue the truth of who you are in every moment of every day.
It's easy to feel trapped by the circumstances and struggles in our lives. Shame forces us to believe that we aren’t worthy and we aren’t enough. Believing lies about who you truly are can feel scary and overwhelming.
But what would it take for you to listen to truth? Truth about who you are and who you were created to be.
The God of the universe looks at YOU and says that you are a masterpiece. A poem written with intricacy and love. You are complex with so many layers that make you uniquely you. And God looks at all of who you are and is in awe.
How can you embrace these truths? What would life look like if you lived out of a place of honoring and valuing yourself? You are love. You are light. Remind yourself of that truth today and everyday.
*Want help for developing an authentic community that helps remind you of truth in the midst of challenges like anxiety, depression and other struggles? Check out our small group curriculum, Living Grace and Family Grace - workbooks filled with biblical and neuroscience insights and practical tools to improve life and renew faith for individuals, families, marriages and friends!
Elyssa is a writer, communicator, and learner. She loves to adventure and explore beaches in San Clemente with her husband Jeremy. She is continually learning more about her ongoing journey with anxiety and writes it all down at elyssafaith.org.