Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Identity Issue

Living this side of the fall in the garden of Eden, knowing ourselves is tricky. Even those from the healthiest of families have small distortions in their self-perception. But if you have been abused, then your self-image and self-esteem your picture of yourself has been warped.

Abuse tears apart self-esteem. The objective of the abuser is to dominate and control--smashing the victim's picture of themselves as a normal human being is a primary strategy. It is almost as if all abusers read the same handbook: How to Annihilate Self-Esteem.

Recovering a proper sense of self takes time and patience. But it can be done. God has never lost sight of who you really are. He has never stopped loving you. Your abuser may have convinced you that you are worthless, unattractive, unlovable, displeasing, incompetent, etc. But God can help you to see that you have great value (enough to die for), that you are wonderfully made, that you are deeply loved (beyond your ability to even comprehend), that you are delightful to the creator of the universe, and that you are able to do all things in Christ Jesus. God can expose the folly of every lie that the Enemy of our souls has planted in our minds through the assaults of abuse.

To see yourself honestly, try these steps that have worked and continue working for me:
  • Admit to God how you really see yourself
  • Ask God to help you understand how He sees you
  • Post on a mirror all Bible verses that reveal how God thinks of you
  • Acknowledge & forgive yourself when you behave out of lies about yourself
  • Ask God to heal your self-image
  • Celebrate victories in trying out new beliefs and more positive self-talk
  • Consider seeking help with the process--a good counselor or close friend can be a help
  • Journal about your thoughts and feelings on a daily basis
  • Spend time with God in prayer daily
  • Spend time reading from the Bible daily (specifically asking that the Holy Spirit help you to get to know God more and more. As you grow closer to God, you will accept and love yourself more).

1 comment:

Timothy said...

I became particularly attracted to the post that talked about IDENTITY ISSUES and managing them through the technique of a journal. The daily practice of writing in a journal really worked wonders for me as my therapist encouraged me to write about "things" that could improve my self esteem. Her suggestions were meant to change the negative thoughts and beliefs my abuser had instilled in me, by having me write about my piano music, close friends, pets or outdoor activities that made me feel good.

I would suggest that you try journaling. Find a calm and peaceful place at home, at a friend's house or somewhere outdoors or maybe after work where you can be by yourself to simply breathe deeply and take some time to honor who you are in God's creation. Realize that you are important in this world and remember God loves you so very much.

After you have had a few minutes to relax, focus your thinking on hope, optimism for your future, and self confidence as you distance yourself from your abuser. Write cheerfully whatever comes to mind that makes you feel good. It may take a few days of practice before the negative feelings go away, even for just a short time. Try to think about your favorite pet or a best school friend; maybe a mountain meadow or a beautiful Aspen grove in the autumn.

Now, put this journal in a safe and secure place or leave it with a friend. Do not put it where your abuser will ever happen onto it by chance, or it could be used against you!

Write in your journal every day as it will keep you in touch with your inner most feelings and in touch with the "kindness" of God's love.

Over time journaling will become easier and you will learn to treasurer the few moments you spend with yourself writing each day. Years from now, you will return to your journals to read about your progress towards healing and freedom, and yes, towards God too!

May the Peace of Christ add his blessing to this message.

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft