In a democracy a majority rules, or supposedly this is true. (This is not a political post so I will spare you my rhetoric on our current state as a nation.) A majority also rules in organizations, clubs, meetings and many families throughout the world. However, one place that the majority takes a backseat is my perception of self-worth.
It's absolutely astounding how a small minority of people can make up a majority of my perception about myself. I can receive a compliment from a co-worker or family member, be the recipient of my children's affections, and read an encouraging text from a friend...but all of those sparkling, sunny feelings can be eradicated in a single moment by criticism, gossip or mis-representation.
I once heard at a special education conference that it takes 5-8 positive, encouraging statements to counteract one negative statement. And for children and adults that have been in abusive situations the amount of positive statements could easily be multiplied to require over 25 positive statements for each negative statement. That is a whole lot of positive my friends!
What is it about negativity that wins our headspace? Why do we let one bad occurrence outweigh all the good? Why do we focus on what's wrong instead of what's right?
I don't have the answer to any of these questions. I am still struggling with focusing on the majority of good because I'm stuck on the minority of bad. This is just an acknowledgment that this is a problem. And I'm not the only one who thinks the culture of negative self-worth is a problem. Based on the amount of research, self-help books, and products designed for self affirmation, it seems to be a national, if not global problem.
Speaking of self-affirmation, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I don't know if repeating positive quotes about myself will really change my mindset or not. It sounds a bit creepy and mental health-ish to me. I know people who swear by keeping these positive statements posted on mirrors and car dashboards. People who say that their outlook is completely different and attribute this change to positive self-talk. I think I'll stick with affirmations based on what God thinks about me rather than affirmations based on what I think (or hope to think) about myself. Affirmations like:
I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)
I am happy with the way I am made. I am made in God’s image, fashioned by His hands. He knew me before I was born.(Jeremiah 1:5, Psalms 119:73, Genesis 1:27)
I am a chosen and valuable treasure, I belong to God, He knows and calls me by my name. God validates me, I matter to Him. (1 Peter 2:9, Exodus 19:5, Isaiah 43:1, John 15:16)
I am the apple of God’s eye, He has engraved me on the palms of His hands for He cares for the details of my life — even the number of my hair. (Matthew 10:30, Isaiah 49:16, Zechariah 2:8)
I know God is for me, He is my light and salvation, the Lord is on my side, man can do nothing to hurt me, none can successfully come against me. (Psalm 27:1, Romans 8:31, Psalm 118:6)
The Lord saves me from my enemies, He restores my confidence and firmly secures me in high places. (Psalm 18:3, Psalm 50:15. 2 Samuel 22:34)
I will call to the Lord in my anxiety, He is my protection, refuge and strength. He is ever present in times of trouble. (Psalm 46:1) (list derived from http://gossipforjesus.com)
Father, forgive me for allowing a minority of negativity to affect my self-worth and question your judgment in my creation. Help me focus on the gifts, talents, and abilities that you have blessed me with to further your kingdom rather than my weaknesses, sins, and flaws. When I struggle to feel loved and appreciated remind me of your promises. Amen.