Thursday, August 16, 2012

3 Actions to Take to Repair Identity

None of us has a perfect life, unfortunately. It seems we could all use a little shoring up of our picture of ourselves. Some of us have a few cracks in our foundations; some of us have gaping holes and some of us feel the picture changes as though someone is playing with the projector! Here are three things that will help create a more stable picture of self.

1.     Produce a Zone of Belonging

People who have a sense of identity feel that they “belong.” If you feel you are short on belonging, create some! Quoting from an email Dr. E. James Wilder[1] sent me,

“If you have an identity, you produce a belonging zone around you. Damage to identity always reduces that belonging zone. So, it is more important in the long run to continue to produce belonging than to continue to receive it.”

             People who have an identity take risks. They include other people. They meet others’ needs and
             have an expectation that their own needs will be met. They feel valued; they enjoy and value someone
             who includes them and they reciprocate. The result is a cycle that generates belonging and worth! When
             you are unsure of your worth and insecure about your belonging you tend to be more tentative in
             relationships. Taking risks did not produce good results in the past; consequently, it is difficult as an
             adult to reach out to relate now.

The Scripture comes to mind that says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). You want to be included; so you do for your neighbor what you would like for yourself. To create a “zone of belonging around you, include others. Make them feel valued and important. That blesses them; they will reciprocate and include you and meet your needs. It becomes a blessed cycle rather than a vicious cycle.
2.     Risk

Take the risk of relationship. Risk is involved in creating or enlarging your zone of belonging. Take the time and the risk to find a prayer partner, a mentor, a counselor—someone you trust who will speak truth into your life—someone to support you. Keep looking and keep asking God to provide such a person. If you feel insecure in your competency, use developing a competency as a point for taking the risk to relate! Find an individual who can help you develop a skill, and make that your reason for hanging out. You legitimately need to see yourself as competent.

3.     Wash Your Mind With the Word

The third thing you can do it repair is to wash your mind, spirit, and emotions with Scriptures that tell you the truth about who you are. Memorize verses that speak powerfully to you so you have them readily accessible in emergencies! Emergencies will come!

I grew up on a farm in northeast Iowa. Unlike most of Iowa, which has deep, rich top soil, this part somehow escaped the glacier. It is hills, valleys, and clay soil—a hard farm to work. My mother was a gardener and grew a huge garden with flowers wherever she could find a spot to put them. She found an old rose bush planted next to an ancient, dilapidated log cabin on the back 80 acres built by some Irish settlers ages ago. It was a poor, scraggly thing, but she moved it and replanted it. Every time we did laundry we threw the wash water on the roses. We never thought a thing about it. That was a good place to throw the wash water! In those days laundry soaps still contained phosphorous. After a few years of feasting on phosphorous rich water, the roses flourished. It was a rambling rose bush and grew all along our back yard fence, a blaze of yellow blooms each summer.

Your identity needs the same kind of treatment. It needs to feed on truth until the soil of your mind and spirit becomes rich and you can “bloom!”

If you have a story about belonging or value and worth that would encourage someone else you can share in the comment box. I look forward to hearing from you!

Blessings, Carol

[1] Quote from email conversation with the author, June 2008. Dr. E. James Wilder is a psychologist, author and co-founder of Shepherd’s House, Van llyes, Calif.

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