Don’t Allow A Negative Self Image ~ to cloud your golden years

elderly couple beach

When I retired and moved to Florida, I didn’t want to sit around in the house and watch TV all day, and there were just so many times a week I could go out to lunch with my retiree friends. I quickly discovered that the most interesting seniors to be around were working…at least part-time. It wasn’t long before a church friend got me a job as a part-time caretaker for the elderly. It’s a rewarding job, in many ways. But it has a sad side. I soon became friendly with other caretakers and as we talked, I realized how common it is for seniors to have made detailed financial preparation for their latter years, but they hadn’t made emotional, mental, or spiritual preparation. Many had a very derogatory and debilitating view of themselves.

As a believer, I indeed do believe the Bible verse:

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

I do not believe that verse became null-and-void when I retired. Just because I entered my “senior years” doesn’t mean God stopped having plans for me. I tend not to refer to myself as a “senior.” No, I’m a “seasoned citizen.” I have a wealth of experience under my belt, useful experience that God can put to work.

elderly man NikkonHow seniors think of themselves is very important. We look in the mirror and it doesn’t lie to us. We’re getting older. However, the truth is, age has it’s own beauty. Seniors have to renew their minds to that reality.

How do we renew your minds? The answer is with words. We must not allow ourselves to say any more derogatory words about ourselves and the aging process. “I guess I’m just getting dimmer and dimmer.” “I must be just about useless now.” No! Don’t speak those negative words over yourself! God sees seniors as shining lights, repositories of wisdom.

Say positive words. “I might be slowing down a bit, but I have a lot to offer and there are still things I want to experience, and I will experience those things.” Pick something that you can do that brings joy and do it. Visit your grandchildren. Adopt a rescue pet. Go to lunch with a friend. Phone somebody and pray with them, pray for them.

We seasoned citizens have to take control of any demeaning and self-condemning thoughts that reoccur and linger in our minds. If these negative thoughts seem to go round-and-round on a kind-of loop, we have to banish them. The way to banish those ingrained negative thoughts is to say positive statements aloud. “I’m getting better and better every day,” is an often used phrase. Seniors can turn that into “I’m getting wiser and wiser every day.” Or, “more compassionate every day.” Say the words out loud. Speech cuts through thoughts.

As a believer, I try to say what God has said about me and how I can live my life. I find what God has said about me in the Bible. I try not to first and foremost see myself as getting older, but as His wonderful creation.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. ~ Ephesians 2:10 New American Standard Bible [NASB]

I’ve often heard it said that “do not fear” and/or “do not be afraid” is said more times in the Bible than anything else.

Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9 Good News Translation [GNT]

elderly woman museum

One of the best tactics for getting rid of persistent negative thoughts is to intentionally surround ourselves with what is good, pleasing, and lovely. Fill a notebook with beautiful and pleasing pictures from magazines. Hang a painting that delights and gratifies. If you can’t afford to purchase a painting, get one at a thrift store. Thrifting all on its own is fun. Visit a museum. Read an uplifting book. Watch an old comedy movie that will make you laugh…for laughter is good medicine. Be proactive. Chase the blues away. Tell that old-lady/old/man withered up negative self-image to get going…

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, English Standard Version [ESV]


 

 

Humility ~ is not self-deprecation

Shame

True humility isn’t devaluing or condemning ourselves. It’s not self-debasing humor. It has nothing to do with belittling, cheapening ourselves, or excessive modesty.  This is especially true for Christians.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. ~ Romans 8:1 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

We all seem to have a sharp-tongued little voice that harps out a refrain saying we are not worthy, we are less than. This voice taunts us without our permission and against our will.

It’s the presence of this relentless, antagonistic, often lying or distorting voice that makes me believe there’s something beyond the natural. There’s a spiritual element.

As I wrote that, I realized I’m writing this for myself, as well as for others. — I’m a patient in a local medical practice that was just purchased by a larger medical group. There was confusion in the office when they gave me a follow-up appointment for test results…on a Saturday. I arrived on time for my appointment and the door was locked. The old practice had been open on Saturday, but the hours on the newly painted door said they were closed Saturday. On the drive home, that inner voice berated me. It said, I’d gotten the date wrong. It said they probably said the 18th (a Friday) but I had heard the 19th (a Saturday). What really made me anxious was the voice saying, “You’re getting older, you might be slipping.” Scary.

When I got home, I checked the appointment card they’d given me, held by a magnet to my refrigerator door. The card read: 1/19/19. Yes, a Saturday. They made the mistake. I was NOT slipping because I’m getting older. Yet the voice had tormented me.

This negative voice that seems to run on a “replay loop” is hard to shut off. Even when we later discover we were right and the voice was wrong, it’s left us exhausted. It’s the default, so it seems. That’s why I say, there’s a spiritual element to it.

The truth is, we can quiet and even shut down that harping, negative, self-deprecating voice. We retrain our minds to replace that voice with the Word of God.

 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. ~ Romans 12: 2 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. ~ [NASB]

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5 [NASB].

This last one, 2 Corinthians 10:5 is a key. If we destroy all negative speculations that nasty little voice raises against us and replace them with what God says, we can get the upper hand over that voice.

  • we are sons and daughters of God the Father
  • we are made in His image and likeness
  • we are highly favored by God

We have to do it. We have to do and live what the Word says.

  • be transformed by the renewing of our minds
  • think on what is good, pure, lovely, honorable
  • destroy negative speculations…they are only speculations.

Battling Negativity ~ it’s all in the mind

Woman, Burned Out

 

How is it so many people come up with images in their minds all day long that are negative? We can see our businesses going bankrupt, our car driving into a ditch, our children marrying the wrong person. Those types of negative imaginations, of course, are the lies of the devil.

We’ve been told repeatedly by many a preacher and/or teacher that the battlefield is in the mind. 2 Corinthians 10: 5 [KJV] ~ Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;…

If we’re not born again, we have nothing of greater strength to combat those images. And most of the world is in exactly that position. Their minds are constantly racing with negative imaginations. There’s no need to turn on a reality TV show or a late night comedy show to prove my point, but if you did you’d hear a steady stream of negativity. Many of those horrid pronouncements would be couched as sarcasm. It’s as if those late night shows are a veritable Coliseum, where those not in favor are ridiculed and torn apart. A while back they tore apart the Duggars…and there was wrong doing there. Then they castigated the Dentist who killed Cecil the lion…also wrong doing.The political season is upon us and during the campaign it’s sure to get ugly. It always does.Talk show hosts, news pundits, and the candidates themselves will ridicule the candidate they oppose, belittle him or her in the most personal manner. I’m not saying there is no need for investigation and thoughtful discourse (emphasis on thoughtful). That is most often not the case. They seek to destroy. Many (especially those who are extreme on either side) delight in exaggeration, lies, and slander. They actually revel i it.

The Bible is clear on this. Proverbs 10:18 [KJV] ~ He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool. Christians are told to cast down these devilish imaginations. To take captivity captive. We are to take captive the wicked thoughts that would enslave us. So I went to the Lord because I thought I’m a pretty nice person and I asked him, “Do I really have wicked thoughts?” His answer was YES, any time I insult or slight another, or portray them in a negative light. That after all is what slander means. I don’t mean to do it, but sometimes it just slips out. Yup, that’s a sin. Fortunately, very fallible me gets to humbly and honestly repent, and God’s incredible loving grace wipes my slate clean.

Deadly Designs 1400

In my detective novel DEADLY DESIGNS, female private eye Veronica “Ronnie” Ingles is beset by negative emotions due to the unfortunate circumstances of her childhood. She’s thrust into a situation where she and Deputy Sheriff, Lieutenant Dawson Hughes, the man she’s falling for, are racing against time to rescue a kidnapped little girl. The plight of this child pulls up nightmares she once had as a child, as well as deeply negative memories. She has been wrestling with God for many years, yet she remains inquisitive as to who He is. She’s on a spiritual journey, though she doesn’t always know it.

 

Overcoming the Fear Factor in a Dangerous World

Barbed Wire
Courtesy of FreeImages by ilco

 

It seems the world is more dangerous than it’s ever been. ISIS is beheading and burning people. Boko Haram has been busy kidnapping school girls. In fact, the Middle East seems as if it’s about to explode. We are warned of the threat of nuclear expansion to ominous and to unstable countries. Then there’s Ebola, not always in the news, but still destroying lives.

 
As far as America’s own national security we keep hearing disturbing things. Internal threats and homegrown terrorists. Protests that turn into riots. Porous borders. Our system of banking on the verge of total collapse.

 

Even in our own city, village, or neighborhood we face drive-by shootings, muggings, and even something as unthinkable as the sex-slave trade going on in the seedy part of town, or the not so seedy part of town.

 

What should we do? Some are stocking up on food, firearms, and ammunition, as well as subscribing to survivalist magazines. Those with the means, install high tech security systems. Others simply isolate themselves behind barred windows and multi-locked doors. They have become afraid. Fear is dominating their lives.

 
What is fear? You might say that it’s an emotion. I’d disagree. Fear itself is not a feeling. It is a spiritual force. And even the most intellectual, scientific, psychological- minded people know that on a visceral level. If you were in an airplane with severe engine trouble and someone in the next seat said, “The fear in here is so thick you can almost touch it,” you’d agree. The same would be true if you happened to be in a bank during an armed robbery. The fear would be palpable.

 
Though fear is a force, it can and does affect our emotions and in many instances can cripple individual lives. Yet many have absolutely no anxiety about the threats of this world. These are believers who have moved past fear and into the Lord’s promise of peace, protection, and blessing

 

Hebrews 13: 5a-6 [NASB] ~ for He Himself has said, I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU; NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.” So that we confidently say, THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?

 
When I look at this Scripture I see what the Lord has said, but there’s another part. I see that we are supposed to say something. I’m supposed to say: The Lord helps me and I’m not afraid of what man can do on this earth to me. It plainly tells me to say that. Not only to read it, no just think it, but to say it aloud.

 
What we say, shapes our feelings, especially what we say about ourselves. If I ever catch myself saying about some event, perhaps on the news, “That’s so scary.” I immediately say to myself out loud, “Quit that fear talk.”

 
In fact, I talk to the news reports. I even point a finger at the TV and shake it. I really do, and as a recovering news junkie, it makes them less powerful in my life. If there’s a report on the news about anxiety on the increase in the nation as well as an increase in pill popping to cope with it, I say, “Not in my house! Not in my life!” But that wasn’t always so. At one point, a few years ago, I had great anxiety. Things were going hay-wire in my life and I found I could not cope with the destructive actions of some people in my life. But I literally talked myself out of that situation. Words have power, after all. I began saying words of power and faith. Of course the words I choose to say come from the Bible. If God said the words first, there’s more power in them than in something I make up on the spur of the moment.

 
Another very practical thing to combat fear is to realize is that fear is the anticipation of something bad happening. In actual fact, that feared thing rarely comes to pass in the individual’s life. Another practical tactic to combat fear is to laugh a little. Laughter dispels fear. Doctors tell us deep belly-laughs releases marvelous feeling endorphins. So, go to a comedic movie, or play a tape of an old one on your TV. Do something, anything that will make you laugh which will in turn decrease your anxiety and fear. And that’s the key. Don’t be passive and let fear overtake you. Combat it.

Flower, White and Pink Rose
Courtesy of FreeImages by BeverlyLR