You always do this. You always fail. You’re a horrible person.
Statics show people who are verbally abused or bullied can share some similar effects like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, mental health problems, and suicide.
As a society we’ve become better educated about relationships that are unhealthy. But toxic relationships can be harder to recognize when you’re the one in them.
Especially if the toxic relationship is with yourself.
No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. When that happens, humility is healthy. It’s right to recognize I’m wrong, seek forgiveness, and make changes.
But in those areas where I repeatedly fail, I begin to say things to myself that aren’t humility. They’re something more…toxic.
And it doesn’t even work. Instead of living as a conqueror (Rom. 8:37), I’m feeling defeated and still struggling with the same things.
There’s probably a reason that happens.
In an article on pureintamacy.org, Steven Earll wrote: “All addictions have a strong component of self-destruction…When an addict feels self-hate they will often indulge in the same addictive actions to quiet the shame. This results in more self-destructive behavior and increased shame…After a period of time indulging in self-hate, the addicted person will want to feel good. The need to escape the hate will lead to fantasy, which begins anew the addictive cycle.” (My emphasis added.)
Not all struggles are as obvious or severe as something like substance abuse. But even if we’re successful in other areas, we can still feel like failures in bad cycles of thoughts or behavior. And the longer we’re unable to break those cycles, the more we lose respect for ourselves.
So, I’m trying something new. When tempted to do something that I’ll hate and bully myself for later, I’m learning to pause and remind myself something first.
Stop loathing yourself.
“Be careful how you are talking to yourself
because you are listening.”
– Lisa M. Hayes
Stopping that negative dialogue doesn’t fill me with pride. Self-hatred and pride are just 2 sides of the same coin – both centered around me without God.
Is there something you say to yourself in moments of failure that you wouldn’t say to others because, even if it’s true, it would harm more than help? Sometimes we harm ourselves more than we help, and then we can’t understand why we don’t have the strength to change.
“You must learn a new way to think
before you can master a new way to be.”
True humility produces confidence from the right places. It can face past failures and still hope for a better future. It says “I can do all things through Christ” (Phil. 4:13) because “with God all things are possible” (Mk. 10:27).
And when we really start believing those things, we can take those first fragile steps toward real change.
“in all these things we are more than conquerors
through him that loved us.”