What does self-sabotage look like in your life? Perhaps you can relate to one of more of these examples:
- You eat a whole bag of chips or a container of ice cream while you mindlessly watch tv.
- You say the hurtful thing you know you shouldn’t say in the heat of the moment.
- You skip your workout five days in a row and use that time to online shop instead.
- You give into the exhaustion and need for ease and go through a drive-thru on the way home for dinner.
- You put the chips and ice cream in the grocery cart (because you ate them in bullet #1) and tell yourself you are not going to go crazy this time and eat them all in one sitting.
- You open up a bottle of wine and tell yourself you are going to have one glass (or maybe two) and then drink the whole bottle because, “you don’t want it to go bad, right?”
- You decide to sleep in instead of getting up and preparing your food for the day, so you find yourself grabbing quick snacks out of the vending machine and workroom and ordering in for lunch fueling your desire to skip your workout and just go home and veg on the couch.
- You find yourself overwhelmed and beaten down and give in to your husband’s and kid's pleas to for the convenient, unhealthy foods to be in the house - the very foods that you know are holding you back from your journey and your family’s health.
- You know you need to get more sleep so you can heal your body, but you tell yourself, just one more email, one more episode, one more hour and you find yourself settling into your second wind and spending another night compromising good sleep.
I don’t know what your self-sabotage cycle looks like, but I am sure you know it well. It’s those situations and circumstances where you make a decision or react to something in a way that harms you or those around you. The crazy thing is that deep down inside most of us know that the decision or reaction is not healthy, but we do it anyway. WHY?
First of all, you are not alone in this struggle. Some of you just glanced over this statement and you need to read it again. You are not alone in this struggle. Let this really sink in. I work with many women who have lived a lifetime telling themselves over and over again that they are crazy because they can’t control themselves. They believe something is fundamentally wrong with them because they can't get a grip. Often they also struggle with a voice that threatens exposure, a voice that says, “you have to keep it this a secret because if people found who you really are, they would ________” (fill in the blank). All of these lies feed a deeper belief and fear that whispers, “I am broken, less than, flawed, unfixable, unworthy or unloveable.”
My sweet sister. These are the lies of the enemy of your soul. Whether you are a Jesus follower or not, the fact still remains - there is a enemy determined to steal, kill and destroy you (John 10:10). The only way to defeat the enemy is to know him and learn how he operates so you can overcome him. There is a path to victory. Here’s a warning before we go on. The enemy doesn’t want you to read this. As a matter of fact, there is probably a voice speaking to you right now saying, “Amber is the one who is crazy, you can do this. You just need to be a little more committed. You got this.” The voice is urging you to click off and read something a little bit fluffier and feel good or to check out how many likes you got on your recent Facebook post. This is the very cycle I am going to address that is robbing you of victory - if you just stick with me. The enemy wants to detract you from the truth and keep you in the dark. Friend, it is time to live in the light. Please keep reading.
I pray your mind, heart and spirit are ready to receive that truth in these words. I have lived the struggle of the self-sabotage cycle in almost every area of my life - but I was particularly vulnerable in my health journey and relationships through the lie, "I'm not enough" that showed up in the form of rejection over and over and over again. I spent years revisiting the same behaviors and the same places of despair over and over and over again until I was exhausted, defeated and completely surrendered to the fact that my way was not working. My attempts to control had only left me feeling more out of control. My attempts to be strong had only left me feeling more weak and inadequate. My attempts to be wise and strategic had only left me in a pile of failure, feeling stupid. Can you relate?
I couldn’t understand why I couldn't get a grip and I beat myself up about it - daily, sometimes hourly. I chased every diet plan on the market. I let the scale control my self-worth. I stayed in unhealthy relationships for way too long hoping I could change them so they would give me the validation I so desperately craved. I drank to numb and cope with the fear, uncertainty and pain. I isolated myself because of the shame. My friend, I am not someone who lacks motivation or drive. I consider myself intelligent and compassionate and I could not stop the cycles that were hurting me and those around me. I know many of you feel the same way.
Your mind may not receive some of what I am saying or even understand what you are about to read, but know that God is doing a work in you right now if you are just open. Let go of the fear. Let go of your doubt. Let go of your need to control. Just breathe and read.
Fundamentally, a few things had to happen for me to claim the victory I now stand in and declare every day. (Notice, this victory is not just a one and done occurrence, it is a daily declaration.) From a place of surrender - with open arms and an open heart, I had to come before God and
- Trade the lies of who the world and my past says I am for the truth of who God says I am.
- Accept through faith the work of the cross for total victory over sin (aka, the unhealthy self-sabotaging habits, mindsets and patterns).
- Exchange my strength and my way for the strength and way of Christ who lives in me when I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.
For some of you, this is too much already and you think I am crazy. I get it. That’s exactly what the enemy wants to whisper into your ear because the cycle I am going to explain is his game plan to destroy you and steal your joy and peace. He will do anything to protect being exposed, so be prepared for your mind to battle what you are going to hear.
The enemy cannot read our minds, but he can place thoughts into our minds. These are often the crazy thoughts where we wonder, "where did that come from?" It can also be the familiar voices that plays over and over and over in our heads of failures, regrets and things people have said to us in the past that negates who God says we are. Most of us don't know this, so we live passively in our minds, allowing whatever thoughts to come in without evaluating the source. The lies of the enemy have no power unless we come into agreement with them. When we come into agreement, they form a stronghold within us that has the power to drive behaviors that reinforce the lie we have agreed with. The enemy is sly. He pays attention to the disappointments of our lives and will use those as opportunities to throw us into the three step process of self-sabotage I am going to explain next.
The first step in the cycle of self-sabotage is TEMPTATION. Temptation says, “this is going to make it better.” Temptation speaks to our senses. It looks good, it smells good, it sounds good and it’s going to feel good (at least momentarily). Temptation speaks to the places within us that just want to feel better. The places within us where we want the pain to stop - the places of fear, loneliness, depression, anxiety, loss, hurt, inadequacy, vulnerability, stress, anger, confusion, overwhelm and disappointment. Temptation tempts us with a temporary solution to just make the pain or fear stop. Temptation is most powerful when we don’t believe there is anything to heal to the pain or stop the fear - so the temporary relief becomes very enticing.
Then comes DECEPTION. This is stage #2 in the process of self-sabotage. Deception may sound like this:
- “You can handle it. You are in control.”
- “You deserve it.”
- “This won’t hurt you.”
- “No one will find out.”
- “It won’t harm anyone.”
- “It’s not that big of a deal.”
- “It won’t make a difference this one time.”
- “This is going to make you feel better.”
- “Do what you feel, you deserve it!”
- “You don’t really want to deny yourself, do you?”
- “You can just start tomorrow. Just one more time.”
Temptation entices us and deception lures us in to making a choice. If we don’t understand that this is the STRATEGY and PLAN of the enemy, then we fall right into the trap that has been set for us. Once we step into the trap and make the choice, the third and most dangerous stage in the process is unleashed - it’s ACCUSATION.
Accusation is the enemy’s number one tool in his tool box. He wants to tempt us and deceive us so then he can accuse us. Once we have fallen into the trap once, he can condemn and accuse us over and over and over again and throw us into this cycle again and again. Often times it becomes like second nature to experience this cycle - it's just how we experience life. Accusation (when you come into agreement with it) overrides who God says you are and speaks doubt into core of who you believe yourself to be.
Accusation may sound like this,
- “You are so weak and out of control.”
- "If God loved you, He would not let this happen."
- “You will never be able to overcome this.”
- “If people knew this about you, they would not want anything to do with you. You will be alone if anyone finds this out.”
- “You deserve to suffer.”
- "God could never use someone like you."
- “You don’t deserve to be happy, successful or healthy.”
- “You are never going to be victorious.”
- “Something is inherently wrong with you. Normal people don’t do this.”
- “You are disgusting. You are repulsive. You aren’t worth the effort of even trying anymore.”
- “See, everything _________ did to you, you deserved.”
- “See, everything __________ said about you is true.”
- “What you have done is unforgivable. God will never forgive you.”
- “This is just who you are - broken, ugly, out-of-control, powerless, alone, etc.”
- “You will never change.”
- "You are going to be alone."
- "You will never be enough."
What are the accusations the enemy has picked out for you? It’s probably one you have heard over the years so many times that you wrestle with whether it is a lie or the truth. The enemy has watched us. He knows our disappointments, failures and hurts. He will accuse us to the core of where our insecurities lie and in a place where he can mount evidence against us from past experiences so we voluntarily come into agreement with his perversion of the truth. This is how strongholds form. This is how we fall into a pattern of struggling to overcome something our entire lives. Unless we expose the enemy and allow God to tear down the stronghold with truth and light, this cycle will continue until it destroys you.
At the core of the enemy's accusations is the statement, “you will never be _________ enough.” What is your “not enough” word that the enemy has accused you of? The enemy wants us to believe that we are not enough - that God could never use a person like us. His whole goal is to distract us so we will spend our entire lives in fear and inadequacy, trying to prove we are enough in the flesh and to the world at the cost of ignoring the voice of God and the calling God has for our lives. The enemy wants to lock us in shame so we hide from our purpose and we hide from God.
Sisters (and brothers), we were NEVER designed to carry shame. Shame came upon Adam and Eve in the garden when they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told them they could eat from any tree in the garden, except that one or they would surely die (Genesis 2:17). God did not say this to punish or withhold anything - but rather our of love, concern and protection. God’s way and His love is a choice. He created us with free will. We get to decide. He does not force us to love him or follow him because love is not forced. Adam and Eve had free will and they made a choice. They decided “my way” is better than “God’s way”. Where have you exchanged God's way for your way?
Before that epic decision, Adam and Eve walked around naked, unashamed and in perfect relationship with God. There were no barriers between them and the Creator of the Universe. Once the enemy tempted and deceived them, they made the choice to disobey God's warning, eat of the fruit and subsequently sin entered. Accusations fired and shame followed. It’s shame that caused Adam and Eve to hide from God. God tried to find Adam in the garden and asked, “Where are you?” and “Who told you you were naked?” Notice, God looked for Adam. He didn't leave him. But the shame, guilt and fear made them hide. Are you hiding from God because of the shame of accusation? This is exactly what the enemy wants. He wants to put us in a prison of shame so we voluntarily separate ourself from God. The shame makes us feel like hiding, but God is always calling out to us (where are you?). He urges us to come out from our hiding places and walk with Him in truth and light. He never leaves us or forsakes us, even when we are in hiding. He waits patiently for us to surrender our way for His.
The enemy loves to take the beautiful moments and things of our lives and fill them with a negative narrative about our failures, shame and inadequacies. This tape plays over and over and over again until God’s voice is hushed and we live in agreement of who were are NOT. The "not good enough" narrative causes us to shrink, isolate, doubt and quit. We hear the “not good enough” every time we try to create (because we are like our creator) and do something new in our lives by overcoming what has been to step into what could be. The enemy will go to great lengths to burden and disillusion us with disappointment and tell us that “God doesn’t want good things for us.” The enemy wants us to pump ourselves up with pride that says, "I can do this myself" and cause us to be defensive when people try to speak life into us. He wants to demotivate and paralyze us by reminding us of the endless ways that we have failed and don't measure up, so we will quit.
So, what do we do? The bible has a lot to say about overcoming the enemy.
“And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.” - Revelation 12:11
This verse instructs that Jesus bore our sins on the cross and that in His death and resurrection, the enemy has been defeated. It is finished. The enemy loses. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior of our lives, we are completely free from the power of sin. I didn’t get this early (or even late) in my walk with Jesus that we have to claim this truth by faith. Temptation will come again and again but it has no power when we believe, by faith, that the power of the blood of Jesus gives us victory over every temptation.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
This is not a mind thing or a working of our own willpower. It’s within our spirits where we connect to, commune with and get revelation and wisdom from God. We have to begin to ask God for His power as we surrender more and more to His truth and His will. It is not in our own strength that we are asked to do anything, we are asked to walk in faith and obedience to the ways of God, surrendering our own will and strength for His. ...in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6).
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:19
It is by the power of our surrender and submission to the power of God that we find strength in our weaknesses to overcome. The verse in Revelation 12:11 also tells us that our testimony has the power to defeat the enemy. This is speaking daily what God has done in our lives and the lives of others. Look back on all the ways he has delivered you, strengthened you, blessed you and protected you. Ask him faithfully, “Lord, I trust you to redeem this struggle/disappointment/stronghold, etc. and return it to me as part of my testimony.” When we speak of the things God has done it builds our faith for what he is doing and hope for what he will do. Soon, we will find ourselves hearing God's voice and seeing God's path and the lies of the enemy will be exposed.
To defeat the enemy, you have to pursue the path to know who you are in Christ and live it on purpose.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun. And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
We are made perfect and blameless through the sacrifice of Jesus. That is our identity. There is no cost. It is free. There is nothing we have to do except accept this truth through faith. God knows we are going to struggle in this life. He knows that the enemy is set to destroy us, but He also has a plan.
“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Are you ready to trade your plan for His plan? This will require laying down your pride and putting on the cloak of humility. God’s plan is simple, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. If we operate in who He says we are (a new creation who is no longer identified by what we did or didn’t do or who people say we are), we can identify the accusations the enemy has used on us over and over and reject the temptations he uses to lure us into agreeing with the lies about ourselves. When we ask God to reveal who we are in His eyes, God will speak to our spirit. He will change our worldly perspective of our identity for a spiritual one. But we have to listen to Him and take every thought captive and evaluate whether or not it is truth or a lie.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
You got this. This is heavy stuff, but felt I needed to share. This is food for your spirit even more than it is for your mind. Surrender to God’s plan for you. It is awesome. It is better than anything you could ever dream of and it’s definitely better than the plan of the enemy. Speak life giving words. The enemy is listening. Don't give him ammunition for his accusations. Read the word of God and let the truth of who you are and who's you are permeate your soul and spirit. Identify the accusations and ask God to tear down the strongholds in your heart and mind. If it's been a while since you talked to God, know that He hasn't left you, He isn't mad at you and He is ready and willing when you want to walk with him again (or for the first time) - unashamed and free.
I wanted to leave you with this. This is a great vision by Ebigale Wilson to remind you of the path to freedom.
SURRENDER COMPLETELY by Ebigale Wilson - Awakening the Journey
Many assignments from the pit of hell were sent to cage My daughters
The enemy worked overtime to keep My daughters in bondage
Only because he knows the yoke breaking assignments on their lives
But to his dismay these daughters arose and broke free from the different cages they were in
I saw thousands upon thousands of cages in what looked like a huge, dark warehouse
Daughters sitting like they were in a trance in small cages
Despair written over their faces
While satan walked among these cages A big smirk on his face
Then without warning daughters started opening cages and stepping out
These daughters came to their senses and run to cages to free daughters that are too scared to step out
The enemy is furious, fuming, screaming, but no one is taking note of him.
They're all running in one direction, helping each other through a huge door where Light is pouring through and Love is calling them into a new season. Father is saying, some of My daughters are already free in their hearts and minds. They surrendered to My processes, fought many personal battles and went through immense pain and training to become My vessels of honour.
It is time for My anointing to break the yokes placed on the downtrodden and hurting daughters. You will be My containers of love, healing, breakthrough and deliverance as you step out and take the wounded by the hand and transfer that which you have learned on your journeys to them.
Then there are the ones I saw in the vision, who are awakening to their identity in Me and breaking free from satan's identity over them. They know that it is time for change, time to forgive and to step into a new season of healing, restoration, deep joy and My dreams for them.
I see these women completely broken, hurt beyond words, rejected to the core come before Papa, with tears streaming down their faces.He starts to sing their new identity over them and as they drink in every word, claim it for them, they are transformed into His beautiful bride. For I will do a quick work in my daughters when they surrender completely, so that they too will step out and bring other hurting daughters into My light. - end quote
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