Believe.com is thrilled to post Diane Karcher’s second article. It highlites something from her well received book, Losing the Mask: Overcoming the Fear of Failure (available here on Amazon).
I must confess that I am not a wimp. I can endure some pretty high levels of physical pain, although please don’t test that. Don’t stab me, hit me in the nose, or make me endure child birth again. I can do without all of that! And to be honest, I am not all that fond of paper cuts either.
But there is a pain that is really hard on me. Really hard. It leaves me bruised and battered every time. It’s one of those recurring pains that creeps up on me all too often, that I can prevent. I know better. I know enough to stop it before it brutalizes my soul.
It’s what I call the Voices.
It is a lethal weapon of mass destruction (a bit dramatic but accurate from my personal perspective).
You know them – we all hear them at some level and volume. It’s the silent sound (imagination, thinking, daydreaming) we put to our judgements and insecurities. These Voices share wisdom (not!). “You can’t do it, you are a loser, you aren’t qualified, you are too old, too young, too ugly, too skinny, too tall, too short, too fat, too stupid, too weak, too incompetent, who would want to even date you let alone marry you?, who the hell do you think you are anyway? Loser. You are not good enough, never will be.”
The sources of these Voices can come from almost anywhere. Your mother, your sister’s friend, your uncle, a commercial on TV, a sarcastic comedian, a blog post from your fave writer, a magazine cover, your best friend’s wedding. The Voices are created when you feel less than someone else, than what society seems to dictate, than what you think others expect. You feed the Voices as you actively seek out validation for how unworthy you believe yourself to be.
Battling these Voices drove me to write my first book – Losing the Mask – just to show them that they were wrong. In fact, I dedicated an entire chapter to them. I labored over, literally sweating out, each word of that chapter, as I tried to block out their shoutings. Who would even want to read this garbage? You can’t write. You can’t write a book. You.will.fail. (That last one usually gets me every time!)
On the rare occasions when I realized I had been listening to the wrong Voices, a new wicked spiral of pain started all over again with the emergence of yet another. How stupid can you be to listen to those Voices yet again? What is wrong with you? Guess you’re not all that smart, are you?
I’m chuckling as I re-read that last paragraph. The relief, the solution, seems all too obvious. Just stop listening, right? Sounds so simple.
Voices have a place in our lives. They validate us in some crazy, twisted way.
We rationalize the negative ones thinking that at least someone is paying attention. And sometimes holding on to that gives some sense of fitting in because ‘that’s what I am supposed to be/think/want. Positive Voices too often don’t have enough substance, enough ‘oomf,’ to get us over and through life’s peaks and valleys.
So we give in to the perceived security or beauty or harmony of our own little negative pity-party. We give in because it’s easier and because maybe, just maybe, these Voices are right and we are a loser. And after all, we do want to be self-aware, and authentic, right?
There is a huge danger at that point of acceptance, of surrender. It’s when the Voices become one Voice. Yours. When you have totally absorbed all the crap into your own personal view of who you are. It is here where pain becomes a reality, where relief may come in horrible self-destructive ways. It is here where you lose yourself. You lose God’s creation of You.
When Many Voices Become ONE Voice: Don’t let that happen. Start now to dig out of this!
For me, as I began to feel myself slipping away, I realized that this was a cop-out! How can I possibly accept all that negative crap when I know the guy who created the flippin’ Universe? Not an apple pie, not a building in New York, not a new app. He created worlds, and planets, and stars, and me. (Read Psalm 139 if you want a reminder about that!)
God thinks we are the coolest of coolest of his creations. And he can say that even though he knows us completely – our good, our bad, our happy, our sad, our unspoken thoughts, our Voices. He is so far beyond being just familiar with us. He knows our bones inside and out. He watches over – rejoices over – us every night as we sleep. As we snore, and drool. As we toss and turn. He knows what we are capable of, and what we are not. And he is OK with all of it.
Finding the way out of this mess was, and is, a constant, ongoing effort. Sometimes the battles are still big ones with a loud Voice to knock down; and sometimes they are bitty little skirmishes. A high level of vigilance is required, listening for that whisper of a Voice. For me, fear of failing is always one that I watch for, cause it will, it has, crushed me before.
I will share a couple of things that worked for. I am sure that others more scholarly than I have more to say on this. I encourage you to explore.
Turn Negative Voices into Positive Ones with 2 Tips!
1. Scripture: For me, finding a few verses that made my heart sing were the mainstay of my battle plan. Psalm 139 remains to this day my go-to verse for Voice conquering. Filling your head up with this good stuff makes it readily available during battle, when the whispers or shoutings begin. The verses from the Bible will prove to be mightier than any of your negative Voices.
2. Prayer: I know there are lots and lots of ideas and recommendations and plans for prayer, and I’ve tried many. But what works for me is just to do it. Whenever, wherever, for whatever. Short, long. Mumbled, screamed. At home, in the car. Logistics and planning don’t count with God. He just wants us to engage. Often.
And in that engagement, as often as I remember to (wish I could say it was more routine!), I include this request: ‘Please give me the wisdom to know which Voice is from you, and give me the courage to hand it over to you and not make it my own.’
Invest some time in this. The payoff is almost immediate and will have lasting effects on your life.
I am praying that you enjoy defeating those Voices as much as I do!
Leave a comment: Community is a powerful tool when it comes to defeating the enemy. Say what is bothering you out loud and watch the power of prayer work in your life. Leave a comment and let me what voice is bugging you the most!