Spend 10 minutes with a group of toddlers or elementary school children and you will find two common threads in their lives—a lot of energy and a great desire to be someone when they grow up. Instilled in our young sons and daughters is an endless list of options they dream of stepping into someday, the land known as, “When I grow up.”
They carry this innocent heart of a dreamer, in that they have the potential to be anything they want to be. They always shoot high, laying claim to becoming an astronaut, fireman, soldier, famous singer, ballerina and more.
My daughter Abby one day said to me, “Daddy, when I grow up, I want to be big and tall like you!” This of course melted me. With his love of animals, my son Max declares, “I am going to be a paleontologist!”
When playing with my kids, Max and Abby are always requesting the best roles in games we play. Everyone wants to be the sheriff or cowboy who protects the town. No one wants to be the bad guy. We will even fight over who gets to be the best superhero.
All the kids fight to be superman, but no one is standing in line for the play role of Lex Luther. In the heart of every child, there is a God-given desire that says, I am great and I was made for greatness.
Somewhere along the journey, however, this healthy view of self gets stolen from us. We become trained by another system of thinking and we lose the acceptance of ourselves and the belief that greatness is on the inside of us. Over time the experiences of life and the deception that wars over us begin to taint the image that God wants us to see of ourselves.
Without realizing it, millions of people slowly begin to lose value in themselves and develop a subtle animosity against their own identity. As self-love and acceptance become compromised, the toxic tar of rejection slowly turns its ammunition against self, training people to let go of the dreamer and the ability to see a great future for themselves.
The Contagious Virus of Self-Rejection
Self-rejection is a virus that has taken the world hostage for a long time. We have become accustomed to living in a world where people do not like themselves, let alone love who they are.
The virus spreads from one person to another. Because self-love is so rare, those who actually do love and accept themselves are seen as foreigners, aliens or people not of this planet. The rest of the world remains settled in the mire of rejecting themselves.
Not only are we bound by self-rejection, we think its acceptable to live with it. In fact, too much of the church thinks its completely ok to hate yourself, ignore yourself and dislike yourself. It’s often seen as a sign of spiritual greatness, but it’s a lie.
Self-rejection makes us very awkward in our relationships and it hinders real, authentic interaction. Our inward battles of not accepting ourselves have made us very uncomfortable with ourselves and true intimate relationships with others. Remember, we can only love in proportion to our own ability to receive and process love.
Jesus gave one of His greatest exhortations when He taught us to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Mark 12:31 NKJV) In other words, we are to love others in direct proportion to how we love ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I would probably raise my hand at that point and ask, Jesus, “Love my neighbor as I love myself? Hmm? Wait! Master? I have a question! What would it mean to love ourselves?”
Millions of people ARE actually loving others in direct proportion to how they love themselves….terribly!
Relational breakdowns are occurring everywhere, stemming from people not being able to love and accept themselves, so what comes forth is conditional, cold and evasive. A violent conflict is occurring across the land, where love is not being given out properly, due to this lack of self-love.
This is more than just a psychological issue, but a spiritual battle in the hearts of people. On top of it all, self-love is a foreign thing to most of us. We are not familiar with what it feels like to have a proper level of this.
Often our reference to self-love is some arrogant person who constantly looks at themselves in the mirror and brags about themselves continually. This is a counterfeit.
True self-love actually brings acceptance, peace and fulfillment, where wars regarding “self” are not constantly flying through the mind and heart. Someone walking in true self-love is free to engage relationships comfortably because they are not lost in their own awkward feelings.
Do You Like You?
An important question we are trying to answer is “Do you love you?” Let me make it even more challenging. “Do you even like you?” Many would not quickly admit they hate, dislike or reject themselves, but when asked, “do you love you?” an awkwardness comes forth.
This issue of self-love and self-acceptance can be an easy one to avoid, sometimes for a lifetime; especially because we live in a performance-driven world. So we never take time to do pit stops and evaluate the issues of the heart, especially love.
Self-rejection takes the mindset of rejection against you, training you to not have a healthy view of yourself. This is the way the enemy trains us to live as our own enemy and we learn to turn on ourselves. It may also link into further areas, such as self-hate, self-anger and self-contempt. If unchecked, self-rejection will prevent the person from giving and receiving love freely.
But What About Selfishness?
Christians today seem to worry that loving themselves as God loves them will make them selfish. Yet I have found conclusively that when self-rejection infects a person’s thinking, they actually live a life where they focus more on themselves. Bondage regarding how you see yourself is meant to keep you focused on self-survival.
Not loving yourself keeps you from flowing love out to others in a healthy flow.
Self-rejection keeps us focused on self-preservation rather than freely loving others. We evaluate all of life through the lens of how it will affect us. It becomes a world, not of living, but of trying to get by.
This stronghold also trains a person to live in a “self-versus self” world, a constant battle against themselves that God never intended them to carry.
We think that if we love ourselves, we will become selfish. That is simply because we do not know what love is like.
You Are Not Your Own Worst Enemy
This may be a startling revelation to many, but did you know that God has not called you to be your own worst enemy? I hear it all the time, “Yeah, you know, I can be my own worst enemy.” What a lie! You are not your own enemy!
The reality is that our enemy has trained many to live in conflict with themselves. God wants you to be at peace with yourself, but Satan’s army will stop at nothing to keep you from that.
When you come to peace with yourself, you are able to receive the peace of God and love others authentically. Self-rejection has you seeing yourself for less than what you really are, and living beneath what God says is possible for you. It keeps you uncomfortable in your own skin and makes you hyper-aware of your fears, flaws and failures.
The Pain of Others Actions Towards Us
We fall prey to the lies of self-rejection when people act in a way that is not loving. Usually through the harsh or abusive actions of others or through their passivity, we fail to understand love. Those who are abused, physically, verbally or sexually often take the arrows and point them at themselves.
Those who live in passive environments never receive the love they are supposed to, so they begin to think, “I must be unlovable.” Those who perform for love never feel truly accepted, so they live in a daily up and down roller coaster. In the depths of our hearts, there is a low hum, telling us we are unlovable.
Signs of Self-Rejecting Patterns
Want to know if self-rejection has infected your thinking? Check out the signs:
20 Various Signs of Self-Rejection
- Excessive shyness, passivity and non-initiation in relationships.
- Self-image issues, where you cannot accept how you look physically.
- Excessive attention to appearance to others.
- Difficult time receiving love and kindness from others.
- A discomfort when loving others.
- A deep critical spirit of self AND others.
- Constant feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.
- Regular comparison to others.
- Constant patterns of unworthiness.
- Angry: either pent up where they shut down or become irritable, or outward, where they become pushy and overbearing.
- Perfectionistic tendencies to cover up lack of self-love and to feel any sense of worth.
- Depression and heaviness.
- Addictions, often hidden ones.
- Sexual fantasies.
- Outward fabrications to hide defects or weaknesses.
- Giving off a sense of superiority, even though they actually feel inferior.
- Extravagant attempts to gain admiration and acceptance.
- Struggles with self-hate and self-accusation (self vs. self).
- Neglecting priorities and key responsibilities.
Question: In what ways do you see a self-rejecting mindset infecting the lives of people?