Do You Struggle With Your Feelings?
FOR much of her life, Lena has struggled with negative feelings about herself. “Years of sexual abuse during my childhood killed a big part of my self-respect,” she said. “I felt that I was completely useless.” Simone too looks back on her youth and says, “Deep within me there was a void and the belief that I wasn’t worth much.” The profound unhappiness that results from such feelings seems to be widespread today. One telephone counseling service for teenagers says that almost half of their callers express “persistent feelings of low self-value.”
According to some experts, feelings of inadequacy emerge when people are made to feel worthless by others. Such a state of mind may develop when one is subjected to constant berating, excessive and harsh criticism, or abusive exploitation. Whatever the reason, the consequences can be debilitating and even destructive. A recent medical study found that individuals with negative feelings about themselves tend to distrust themselves and others, thus unwittingly sabotaging close relationships and friendships. “In a sense,” says the report on the study, “they ‘create’ the very situations they fear most.”
People who feel that way are often victims of what the Bible calls their own “disquieting thoughts.” (Psalm 94:19) They feel that they are never good enough. When something goes wrong, they instinctively blame themselves. Though others may praise them for their achievements, deep down inside they feel like a fraud who will be exposed sooner or later. Believing that they are unworthy of happiness, many fall into self-destructive behavior that they feel powerless to correct. Lena, mentioned earlier, developed a serious eating disorder because of her lack of self-respect, and she admits, “I felt unable to change anything.”
Are those who struggle with such “disquieting thoughts” doomed to feel this way for the rest of their life? Can anything be done to combat such feelings? The Bible sets out principles and practical advice that have helped many to succeed in the struggle. What are some of these principles, and how have they helped sufferers find joy in life? The next article will explain.