Five False Beliefs That Will Keep You in Bondage

by Andy Wood on February 11, 2015

in Ability, Conversations, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Pleasers, Principle of Freedom, Protecting Your Investment

Couple looking serious

(A Conversation)

Stuck.

Stuck?

Yeah, that’s probably the best word for it.

As in, you’ve hit the ditch and can’t get out?

Maybe.  Or more like I get so far and every time I hit this wall I can’t ever seem to break through.

Maybe you don’t really want to break through.

What’s that supposed to mean?

Maybe you’d rather lose a thousand pounds than 20.

I don’t follow.

Isn’t it easier to lose one pound and gain it back, then repeat the process a thousand times, than losing 20 and keeping it off?

Okay now you’ve gone to meddling!  And yeah, maybe that’s true, but humor me.  Let’s assume I really want to lose the 20 pounds.  Or I really want to pray consistently.  Or I really want to stop feeling so insecure.

But you feel stuck?

I feel stuck.

Powerless to break free?

Yeah, that.

Tired of 1 John 1:9 being your life verse?

Yeah… Hey!  Wait a minute! Are we talking about me or you?

Well, let’s just say, to quote two former presidents, “Ah feel yur pain” because I’ve been “knee-deep in doo-doo” myself.

And what did you learn?

That I was a bad liar.

Say what?

Terrible liar.

Who were you trying to lie to?

Myself, actually.  And the crazy thing was, I got so accustomed to doing it, after a while I was completely unconscious of it.

So what does that have to do with being stuck?

Everything. Remember where Jesus said “you shall know the truth…?”

“…and the truth shall make you free.”  Sure.

So what does that say about people who are stuck?

That they don’t know the truth?

Exactly – or that they’ve believed a lie.  And that’s what I learned about myself – I’d been believing some lies, and those lies were sabotaging my freedom.  And the crazy thing was, I had lived with those beliefs for so long, they looked, sounded, and felt true.

So you think I’m deceiving myself?

Strongholds?

I can’t tell you that.  But what you just described to me has the look of strongholds.

I’ve heard of that.

Yeah, I like Dan Sneed’s definition:  “negative thought patterns that are so strongly etched on our minds, they govern our entire thinking process.”

That’s good.

I thought so.  Anyway, I started asking the Lord, “What negative thought patterns are so strongly etched in my mind that they feed this floating anger I always have?”

Anger? You don’t strike me as angry at all.

Well thanks, but this was a different day, and it wasn’t that long ago.

So what’d you come up with?

More strongholds, actually!

What?

Yeah.  Turns out what I called “a commitment to excellence” was more like perfectionism.

Huh?  I’ve always admired you for that.

Well, it sure beats mediocrity.  But I realized that what I called “excellence” was never satisfied, could never let go of failure or disappointment, and was driving my employees out the door.

Wow.  So you decided that was a stronghold?

No doubt about it.  And there were others.  So I began asking, what are those “negative thought patterns?”  What false beliefs do these strongholds have in common?

Did you find anything?

I did.  Five, in my case. Yours may be different, but these five things were sucking the life out of me.  And what’s crazy is that they all make sense and have a sliver of truth to them.

Well, you’ve got my attention.  What are they?

Self Sufficiency

The first is self-sufficiency.  Basically says, “I’m sufficient within myself to have the life I want.”

Well that beats being clingy and needy.

Not if it leads to the conclusion that I don’t need God or other people.  Nobody was ever quite good enough, so I would criticize them or hold ‘em at arm’s length.  And I called myself a believer in Christ, but whenever I started feeling any kind of stress, I would literally say to myself, “If it’s to be it’s up to me.”

I’ve said for years there’s nobody more committed to my success than I am.

See?  That’s partly true in the sense that we have to be responsible.  But when we start living on an island, not trusting other people or God, we have to turn somewhere.  I spent years trying to prove I was all I needed.

How’d that work out for ya’?

Oh, you know, one failed marriage, another almost down the drain.  One failed business, another failed career.  Should I keep going?

Okay I get it.  Self-sufficiency.  What else?

Instant Gratification

How about this?  “I can have what I most want without having to work or wait for it.”

Instant gratification?

Yep.

I always thought that was a pleasure thing.

It’s actually a selfish urgency thing.  In my case, when I didn’t get what I wanted right away, I would either pout or rage.  I could destroy somebody’s day with a look.  Or at home by withholding affection.

Wow.  I see that, but I don’t think that’s a problem for me.

Maybe not.  Then again, maybe you don’t exercise because other things are more urgent.  Maybe the benefits of working out are more long-term, and doing other things creates more of an outward sense of progress without so much time or energy.

Okay you’re meddling again.  What else?

Self-Will

Try this:  “If I want it I should be able to have it.”

Isn’t that the same as instant gratification?

It’s similar.  But instant gratification refuses to be told “wait.”  Self-will refuses to be told “no.”

Is that why you asked me if I really wanted to break through?

Yep.  There’s any number of things that people know they ought to do, but the truth is, they want something else.  For me, the minute somebody told me I wasn’t supposed to do this or couldn’t do that, something inside me would rise up and say, “Says who? I’ll show you!”

Is that why I never seem to get out of debt?

I don’t know.  But it’s worth asking, “Am I willing to accept ‘no’ or ‘wait’ for an answer?”  In my case, it was, “Am I willing to accept ‘Plan B’ or ‘imperfect’ as a solution?”  And subconsciously I was like a three-year-old screaming, “No! No!  No!”

OK, I see that.  Number 4?

Pleasure

Pleasure.  “It can’t be wrong if it feels so right.”

“If it feels good, do it?”

Something like that.

Okay, but I don’t get what that has to do with anger or perfectionism.  Anger feels bad.

Oh no!  Anger feels good!  Frustration, fear, grief, or disappointment feels bad.  I’d get angry to make myself feel better.  I would blame or take it out on somebody to deal with the pain I was feeling.

Seems like that would hurt more than help.

In the long run you’re right. But the short term pleasure having that adrenaline rushing through?  It’s like a natural high.  But all of those beliefs flow out of the one I call the “Puppet Master.”

What’s that?

Shame

Shame.  “I have to hide behind my pride.”

Why do you call it the Puppet Master?

Because it controls all the others.  Shame is a belief that I am a bad person, therefore I must do everything I can to look good.

Doesn’t everybody do that?

Most people try to put their best foot forward, but healthy people do it for the right reason.

What’s the right reason?

The truth of who God created us to be and, as believers, who we are in Christ.  We’re made in God’s image, and though we were sinful, when we trusted Christ He gave us His identity.  But if I still believe deep down that I’m a bad person, I have to do something to medicate the pain of that.

What do you mean, medicate?

We weren’t created to live with ongoing shame.  It’s devastating.  So we either get rid of the shame or we medicate it.

Like with drugs?

Sure.  Or alcohol.  Or overeating.

Stop it!

Or acting out sexually.  Or perfectionism.  Or anger.  Or religiosity.  There are all kinds of ways to manifest shame.  The key is the belief that I must somehow look good to everybody else.  Even God.

God doesn’t want us to look good?

God doesn’t want us to pretend.  And He doesn’t want us to refer to ourselves in the language of self-hatred as a sign of spirituality.

Like calling ourselves stupid, or failures?

Or calling ourselves sinners.

What?  We are sinners.

We were sinners.  Now we’re forgiven saints, and children of God.

But nobody’s perfect!

Didn’t say that.  But we are being transformed into the image of Christ.  Sure, we’re a work in progress, but God delights in the process.  And that, more than anything, helped set me free.

What?

When I realized that didn’t bring God any pleasure or honor to hate someone He loves so much and has invested so much in saving and transforming.

Hmmm.

Yes? Hmmm what?

Just Hmmm.

Hmmm is a good thing.

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