Category Archives: Overcoming Insecurity

In_Security Book Excerpt –Using Feedback to Gain Self-awareness

I am so excited to share with you the finalized book cover for “In_Security: Break Free from what Holds You Back” So excited, in fact, that I’ve decided to give you a sneak peek on a new chapter being added to the manuscript! So new, this hasn’t made it past my editor yet…

Please enjoy this excerpt and share with your friends.

Book will officially release in March of 2016!!

Anna_Book_Mockup_1_small

 

Using Feedback toGain Self-Awareness–Excerpt taken from Chapter 8 “You Are Here”

Let’s get a little science-y shall we? I love this definition of Newton’s Law of Motion when thinking about feedback.

“An object either remains at rest or continues to move in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force.”

You are that object and if you want to change your direction and free yourself from bondage you need an external force to help you get the momentum started. That external force is feedback.

Feedback can be scary and unasked or unwanted feedback can be downright humiliating. But when it comes to self-awareness, getting feedback is simply reconciling what you know about yourself with what everyone else already knows about you. In other words, when gaining self-awareness, oftentimes, we are the last to know the things we need to do to help make us better. Wouldn’t you rather be proactive in your approach to gaining feedback instead of reactive to the feedback that may come?

When I was a youth pastor on staff with Life.Church I was immersed in a culture of feedback. Not one event was done without discussing later what did and didn’t work and how we could do it better the next time. Being a part of a culture like that taught me three things.

Develop a thick skin. Nothing is worse than hearing you’re missing the mark, you aren’t your best, or you could do things better. It can be easy to take feedback personally and allow its effects to down-spiral your belief in yourself. That’s why the second and third things I learned about feedback are so important.
Feedback is meant to help you. Most people when giving feedback only want what’s best for you. True, some people like to pick things apart and seem to have the spiritual gift of nit-picking, but true feedback should always be life-giving and help you get to the next step in your development. If it’s not, check out the next thing.
Chew up the meat, spit out the bones. This saying was a constant in our staff. It means that while all feedback can be helpful, focusing on too many things at once can be detrimental. Take the one or two big things that come out of someone’s feedback and leave the rest behind.

You Asked For It
The world we live in is not made from a culture of feedback. At least not life-giving feedback that’s given to your face. People will talk all day long behind your back about what they think you could do to be better, but something keeps us from sharing that information with each other. Unwanted feedback is just that, unwanted. However, as embarrassing as it may be to have a stranger tell you there’s spinach in your teeth, or you have a booger hanging out your nose, you’re glad they stopped you before anyone else saw it. Our insecurities and hang-ups are the spinach-in-the-teeth kind of awareness we are after. Something we are blind to that keeps us from moving forward. Everyone has blindspots that hinder growth, and if you don’t think you do, that may be your blindspot. But feedback in this area is not just going to come. You have to ask for it. You have to create in yourself a culture where feedback is valued and used to make you better. I’m not suggesting you invite every person you’re associated with to give you feedback. Select two to three individuals whom you trust and admire (your believers) to be the ones to speak into your life. It could be your husband or mom, a mentor or pastor, an older sister or friend. When you have a couple people in mind explore these three steps to create a culture of feedback in your life.
Teach people how to give you feedback. Early in our marriage, Cody and I developed the habit of occasionally asking each other this question. “What is one thing I can do, to be a better spouse?” We did this at an unemotional time when we could focus on each other and talk things through. Asking a question like this opens the door for constructive feedback. It shows the other we are open to change and desire to grow. Notice, we didn’t ask, “Is there anything I do that annoys or makes you angry?” Keeping your question around one positive outcome helps guide the feedback from getting lost in the weeds or subjecting each other to a verbal firing line.

Here are a few examples of great questions you could ask:

“Do you see something in me that’s holding me back from reaching the next step in my growth?” “Is there a blindspot in my life, that’s keeping me from being the person I’m created to be?” “Do you see an insecurity in me that’s keeping me in bondage?” It’s important they know you desire honesty, even if it may hurt at first.
Opening yourself to feedback is intimidating, but what you do with the feedback you are given paves the road to true life-change.
Your response to feedback. If you have a negative response to someone’s solicited feedback, they will not continue to help you. Becoming defensive, which is a sign of insecurity, and making up excuses for the answers someone gives you is the wrong response. If you have asked this person to speak into you life, listen respectfully, ask any follow-up questions to gain clarity, and use the new information to create a game-plan for change. This is what gaining self-awareness is all about.
Baby Steps. Growth and development take time. Don’t be discouraged if things don’t seem to change right away. Take your new-found awareness and put it to work for you. Don’t allow embarrassment or negativity to suck you deeper into a pit of insecurity. Use this awareness as stepping stones to help raise you to a higher level of perspective over your life.

And take one step at a time.

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Self-Love

This is something that has been heavy on my heart for a while… Good thing it is exactly the section of my book I am working on.

An excerpt from my project Insecurity Sucks

Self-love is vital in winning the fight against insecurity. It’s not the kind of self-love that keeps you focused on the person in the mirror. It’s not a narcissistic obsession that keeps us taking selfies because we’re just that into ourselves. It’s the self-love that frees us to live in the light. To live in the freedom Christ died to give us. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” Including and most especially we ought to love ourselves. Don’t miss the power of these scriptures because you’ve heard them before. Read them again, in the light of your new-found and continued journey towards freedom.

If we don’t learn to love ourselves because God first loved us, we won’t have the capacity to give or receive love from others, whether that be your family, husband, wife, friends or God Himself.  We’ll simply live on the outside of our own lives, in the grey, watching others give and receive love not able to participate and not understanding why.

God has already loved us, and loves us currently. He has approved of us under the grace of Jesus Christ. Why do we think we need to work for something that has already been done? “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:8-19 NIV.)

It’s time for us to stand up out of the pit of self-loathing. Step out of the prison of self-depreciating, and step into the light of His love.  Walk out of the blur and into the focus. The invitation has already been given! Too much is at stake for us to stay bound by the lies we are believing. The shackles are too heavy. They have already been unlocked. What are you waiting for?

Trust and love work together in our journey to overcome our insecurities. We can love without trust, and we can trust without love, but to realize true freedom we must have these two virtues—these two choices—working together. Because when it comes down to it, being free is a choice. It is a choice to trust that what God’s Word says about us is true, and it is a choice to love ourselves despite how we feel.

The battle for freedom might be fought in the heart, but it is won in the mind.

 

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5 Signs You Don’t Know Who You Are

Blog rewind to 2009 (when I thought I knew everything.) But this is a good reminder…

5 Signs You Don’t Know Who You Are

I’m not talking about social security cards and driver’s licenses, I’m talking about identity: the condition of being oneself; the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time.

I work with lots of people in my job, co-workers, volunteers, students, parents, and everyday I observe people who either have a very strong sense of identity, or those who have no idea who they are. Here are 5 signs you may not know who you are.

1. You copy the behavior of whomever seems cool at the time.

2. You dabble in a vast variety of hobbies and activities, never committing to one or the other.

3. Your opinions are either never shared, or always easily swayed.

4. You crave the praise and admiration of other people–Actually you almost need it to survive.

5. You’re often doubting, dogging, or down on yourself.

I’ve struggled myself in this area of identity, but following these next 5 steps, your identity will slowly be revealed.

1. Ask God to show you who you are. Everyday, until He does.

2. Find a trusted friend or mentor who has a strong sense of identity. Ask them to help you in your journey to finding yours.

3. Take various personality, spiritual gifts, and strengths finder tests. These are tools to help us discover who we are.

4. Quit prostituting your emotions on other people. Get a grip on yourself and act like an adult!

5. Believe in who God has made you to be. You’ll never be good at being someone else! My mentor says “Do You–it’s not a question.”

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Silly Rabbit, Trix Are For…

Blog throwback to 2010… This is a good reminder.

Silly Rabbit, Trix Are For…

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They’re definitely not for me! But I’m not talking about the sugary cereal we grew up eating as kids, I’m talking about different kinds of trix. I’m talking about the tricks and lies of the enemy.

None of us, not a single person, is exempt from the enemy’s tricks. If he can’t get you down one way, odds are he’ll try a different approach–probably one you weren’t thinking.

I am not unaccustomed to falling for the enemy’s tricks. I’d like to think I get better and better at dodging them, or having the wisdom to see them coming, but there are times when I look up from a self-degrading thought, or a feeling of depression, and I realize I fell for one again.

How can we become knowledgeable about the enemy’s schemes to try and take us out? How can we fight offensively to protect ourselves before an attack ever comes?

We have to know our trix button. Think of it as a weakness, a little crack in the windshield of your life that if satan could make bigger would cause more and more problems for you.

What’s your Trix button? Maybe yours is pride, or lust, or discontentment with your life. Maybe you compare yourself to others, or have a problem with negative words and thoughts. It’s important to know where you’re weak so you can put some extra armor around your vulnerable spots.

Silly rabbit, trix aren’t for me. Don’t fall for the enemy’s trix. Know your weaknesses. You can bet he does.

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Check-Up #2

Question #2 

Are you a WORRIER or are you a WARRIOR

I know this will hit many of us where it hurts. I think a lot of us would say we want to be a Warrior, but most of us, if we’re honest, have to admit that we are worriers!

We worry about money, we worry about our kids, we worry about our weight, or what people think of us. We worry about our jobs, the economy, or the next natural disaster. We worry if we’ll ever meet Miss or Mr. Right and we worry if our favorite team will win. 

What are you worried about? 

My husband likes to say: Quit worrying about the things you can’t control and do something about the things you can. 

Things that are out of our control will happen. People will get sick, people will die, people will talk about you behind your back. Money may be tight, the economy may crash, and Jesus may soon return. But none of those things are in our control. The only thing we can and should control is our reaction to those things.

A Warrior knows he’s in a battle. What’s more, he’s prepared for that battle with armor to keep him safe when the firey arrows seem targeted right at him.–Ephesians 6. He also doesn’t cower away from the attacks that come his way, but stands ready to face them no matter the cost. A Warrior also knows to trust his Comanding Officer. He afterall, sees the bigger picture and knows that in all things He works for the good of those who love Him and fight in His name.–Romans 8:28 (paraphrased) 

Remember, don’t be a victim. Be victorious. 

Stop worrying about the things you can’t control and do something about the things you can. 

Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?–Matthew 6:27 (paraphrased)

Are you a WORRIER or are you a WARRIOR

 

If you read this, please let me know by leaving a comment below, or on Facebook. It keeps me motivated!  

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Check-Up

I’m going to be honest… March was the month from hell. I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say I got to a place I never want to be in again. I’m just glad it’s April. So many different things contributed to my bad month. It seemed like everything was working against me and I couldn’t catch a break! Physically, mentally and spiritually empty I coasted through letting life happen to me instead of me happen to life. And then I realized the problem. It wasn’t work, (although it was stressful) it wasn’t Ethan, (although my milk supply was low and he didn’t want to sleep at night.) It wasn’t my husband, my weight or the lack of sleep… The problem was me. My attitude. I realized it when my friend and distant mentor Kathy Davis led our highschoolers through a check-up. A series of questions that truly turned the mirror in the right direction and made us evaluate the way we were approaching life. Little did she know that she was also challenging me to evaluate myself and little did I know that after this mental and spiritual check-up I would realize that I was sick. I want to bring you those questions in hope that, if you need it, you too can adjust your mindset so that life stops happening to you, and you happen to life. Question #1 Are you a Victim or are you Victorious? This one hit me square in the face. As I thought over the last few weeks and asked myself this question I had to admit that I was a victim. I kept blaming everything that was happening on things I couldn’t control. The result was a very negative, self-centered attitude that left me feeling helpless and hopeless, when indeed I was not. Nothing about my attitude said victorious. I wasn’t taking life by the horns and directing it where I wanted it to go, I was riding on the back of life, letting it toss me back and forth and blaming everyhting else but myself. When I realized this, I knew it was time to get down off that wild bull and start directing my life. It was time to change my mindset and give myself a mental checkup. So I want you to ask yourself this question: Are you a VICTIM or are you VICTORIOUS?
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IMAGE

It’s amazing how one little thought can wiggle it’s way into your mind without invitation, or permission. Left unchecked, it festers, irritating every other thought it touches. Soon this little thought becomes a big thought and overtakes your mind affecting your interactions, affecting your mood and ultimately altering your understanding of truth. Unfortunately that’s where I find myself today, so I thought some writing therapy would do me good… humor me, will ya? 

 

The only consolation I have is knowing that we all struggle with this phenomenon at one point or another. The negative thoughts we have of ourselves all too easily become the reality in which we live. 

 

I thought I was done with this struggle, but then I was reminded of the quote I myself coined out of my struggle to overcome my insecurities. 

 

Insecurity is not a destination you arrive at… it is an everyday journey, an everyday decision to believe the truth over the lies. 

 

Since having Ethan I’ve struggled to lose my baby weight. Having weight issues in the past doesn’t help my old/new dilemma of needing to lose the last 20 pounds. I’ve been here before, but I honestly never thought I’d be here again. I don’t struggle with self-control. I don’t struggle with self-motivation or discipline. I know what to do to lose the weight, that’s not the problem. The problem is I’m breastfeeding. Now, one would think that breastfeeding would help me lose my weight, and don’t get me wrong it is good for me, and even better for Ethan, but with breastfeeding my body requires extra calories for milk supply, therefore I am not able to cut my calories like I used to, to quickly lose the rest of my baby weight. I know it’s coming off slowly but surely, and everyone says “it took almost a year to gain, give it a year to lose.” But I want to lose it now! 

 

(Warning: Now I am venting.) 

 

There have been several times I’ve wanted to quit breastfeeding for the purpose of losing the rest of the weight quickly. If I didn’t work I would be able to cut my calories and still make sure I produced enough, because I would be able to feed Ethan whenever he wanted. But I work full time, which means I have to pump. And if I’m not producing enough milk to pump, than Ethan wouldn’t be getting enough while I’m gone. Therefore, I feel stuck in this never-ending teeter-totter of deciding which is more important: losing the weight or making sure Ethan gets enough milk. Of course, I know which is more important, which is why I won’t quit, because I realize Ethan’s well-being is more important than my body image. 

 

But that’s when I realized what this problem really is… it’s a body image issue. Image. My perception of myself. How I feel, and what I think of myself when I look in the mirror. No, I’m not at the weight I want to be, but that doesn’t mean I have to beat myself up, compare myself to other girls, (other moms too, who seem to have no problem losing their weight–or so I perceive) and it doesn’t mean I have to allow those infectious little thoughts to eat away at what I know is true. I’m learning once again, to give myself some grace. To realize that this is a season in my life that will quickly pass away. But most importantly I think I’m learning once again to take the focus off myself (which is the root cause of all insecurity) and look around at who may need my encouragement, my smile, my hug, or my help. It’s not an easy lesson to learn and I’m not even sure it’s a lesson you ever complete. But it’s a lesson that, if you’ll allow God to show you, will be one of those things He constantly reminds you of to keep looking like Him. 

 

In His image. 

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

Cody and I love to do home improvement projects around the house. Since the Light family flood of 2010 where we had a swimming pool in our living room, the house had been in a constant state of improvement. Now that everything is done for the most part, we went on to tackle other projects I’ve been dying to get to.

We decided we wanted to spruce up our bathroom and bedroom mirror. Look at it, it’s just a sheet of glass hanging on the wall. Bor-ing!

So we decided we wanted to frame it out using crown moulding. Here’s what you need to complete a project like this: a few pieces of crown moulding picked up at your local Home Depot or Lowes. This was only $1.72 a foot!

Next, you will need a can of paint in whatever color tickles your fancy. I like flat black since it matches with everything else in the bathroom and bedroom.

And of course you can’t forget your hunk of burning love willing to help you with this project. Ohhh, he’s so cute!

Once you’ve made your measurements you can cut the crown moulding to size. Be sure to cut the ends at a 45 degree angle so they line up at each corner. (It took us a couple tries to get the measurements right, but eventually, with enough patience (Cody’s the patient one, not me!) we cut them to size and started painting.)

Besides taking pictures and holding the boards while Cody made his measurements, this was my only job. I leave the heavy thinking, planning and executing to him, he leaves the “girly” stuff like painting to me.

Once the paint is dry it’s time to hang them up. We had to use stabilizers behind the crown moulding to make it even on all sides, but I’m very happy with the way it turned out.

What do you think?

We also did our bedroom mirror. It really makes it stand out more.

Two “like new” mirrors for less than $50 dollars! Now that’s what I call a good investment!

What home improvement projects have you been meaning to get to?

Any inexpensive ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments!

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D-Fence!

Confession: Growing up I never knew what those silly signs were in the football crowds on TV. They held up a D and then a picket fence… I thought “How strange. It must mean something.” Not knowing anything about football I had to ask my dad. He went on to explain all aspects of the game and I can honestly say I enjoy watching football today because of his explanation.

But I’m not going to be talking about football defense. Today, I want to talk about another kind of defense. I want to talk about the attitude of being defensive as it relates to insecurity.

Show me a defensive person, and I’ll show you a person with lots of insecurities.

Let’s get a working definition of the word defense: Defense: noun serving to defend; protective: resistance  against  attack; protection:

Someone who is always on the defense doesn’t feel safe in who they are. Being defensive means you will protect yourself against anything and everything, even if it means missing out on something great.

Here are a few examples of a defensive person:

  • No one can joke with you because you take everything literally.
  • No one can (or even wants to) give you suggestions on how to do something better because they know it will end up in disaster.
  • You hold almost everyone at arms length, afraid of any real, caring relationships.
  • You are always more talk than action–you believe if you paint a good picture, no one will really know what’s going on underneath.

Ask yourself: Do you know a defensive person? It is almost impossible to have a real relationship with them because they always seem to hold you at arms length.

Are you a defensive person? Does almost everything other people do look like an attack to you? What are you really protecting yourself against?

Defense is a vital part of a good football game, but it will ruin the relationships in your life if you allow it to control you.

Don’t allow defensiveness to control your behavior. In the end living free from defensive behavior is a much better way to win the game.

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Do You Have Freedom Envy?

I had breakfast with a chic last week who has been freed from much insecurity. She has allowed God to reveal to her the lies she believed about herself, and accepted His truth instead. This woman shines with freedom. No longer does she live under the shadow of bondage. She’s captivating, encouraging and full of the love of God.

But there was something troubling her. Ever since she stepped into her new found freedom, the other women in her life have treated her inhumanely. Some of the exchanges my friend has had to put up with, are just plain childish. Cut-downs and negativity. Hurtful words and hateful attitudes. My friend asked me, “What did I do to get this kind of response?”

Nothing. Except get free.

As women, if we’re not careful, we can struggle with petty jealousy. I call it Freedom Envy, caused from not being content with who we are.

We see another woman walking in the freedom we wish we had and something rises up in us. Discontent, depression, obsession, anger, jealousy, hatred… these emotions take control of our attitudes and we lash out causing our insecurity to pull us even tighter into bondage.

I used to struggle with this very thing. There was a girl I grew up with who seemed to have it all: beauty, encouragement, full of life and everyone wanted to be around her. I found myself wishing I had her life, thinking that if I was like her than maybe I wouldn’t hate who I was so much.

Then I realized this truth: I wouldn’t make a very good, her. But I would make an excellent me. No one else could be me. Through this, and many other realizations of truth I found my identity and rested in the security it brought. Not too long after I started walking in my freedom I got a call from another girl confessing her jealousy of me. She told me, “I find myself thinking that if I could just be like Anna, then I will like myself. Then, maybe people will want to be around me.” I told her the same thing God had revealed to me: “You wouldn’t make a very good, Anna. But you make an excellent you!”

See, it’s not the person we envy, but the freedom they have found that we want for ourselves. A quote I heard yesterday brings a lot to light:

“It is the things no one sees that results in what everyone wants.”–Craig Groeschel

No one knows what someone might go through to overcome their insecurities. No one can appreciate the pain, tears, doubts and questions that go into finding your identity in Christ. No one, but you.

So ladies, I beg of us, let’s not allow jealousy to steal another sister’s joy and freedom. Instead, let’s start our own journey to discovering it for ourselves. After all, you’ll never make a very good “someone else.” But you’ll make an excellent YOU!

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