The SELF Diet

The SELF Diet

 Have you ever spoken to your self? Good

Not what if I asked you to hold your cell phone high for a moment. Now, I want you to stand up and put your cell phone on the chair behind you.

Next, I want you to remain standing and put your SELF on the chair beside your cell phone.

Why is there so much confusion with that request? Read it again.

You agreed that YOU spoke to your SELF. That suggests that YOU and your self are not the same.

Why then is it so challenging to separate your SELF from YOU?

The issue is that you have been hypnotized into accepting an illusion as YOU. The fact that you and that illusory sense of identity are NOT the same has become blurred.

You have no problem in establishing that your cell phone is not YOU. Your chair is not YOU. Your dress or shirt is not YOU. Your SELF is also not YOU.

The truth is that when we say “I” we usually have in mind our SELF.

What we accept and think of as “me” and “I” is really a masterful act of deception by our SELF. This is high class identity theft that usually goes undetected.

If you do not take care to recognize SELF it will trick you into thinking that it is YOU. You will be lulled into failing to separate the two and to identify with SELF as if it is YOU.

It is critical to recognize that we are NOT the voice in our heads – the prompter. That voice in our heads is our SELF. It is actually the motivation for dysfunction that you carry around with you and indeed, appear to be YOU.

Humans in the normal state are fundamentally defective and collectively dysfunctional….. Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Sin means to “miss the mark”. There is something in us that leads us to miss the mark…. We do not quite get it.

This impostor SELF has been nurtured by events in our lives. In its fully grown state, it takes control of what we perceive to be our reality. It provides the filter through which we screen everything – thoughts, events, interactions, relationships. This illusion – Your SELF – shapes how you view life and its unfolding events.

It is His appreciation of this distinction between you and your SELF that caused Christ to say to His disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matt 16:24).

Denial of SELF becomes harder when SELF is well fed and fully developed.

Today, we want to put SELF on a diet.  In order to do so, we need to identify the favourite foods of SELF.

Spending time identifying how SELF is fed is essential to achieving the transformation of our minds which is at the core of Christian living.

So as you would imagine SELF is not a healthy eater.

Its favourite is My sCream.

The SELF Menu is simple – “Me”, “Mine”, “More than”, “I want”, “I need”, “I must have”, “Not enough”.

If you want to put SELF on a diet you have to remove those items from the daily menu.

It is critical that you identify the impact of those words. Failure to do so will give them control over you and you will find yourself acting out the unconscious thoughts and actions that are tied to those words.

One fundamental problem is that SELF tends to equate HAVING with BEING. SELF grows and feels more secure the more it HAS.

The problem is that things are temporal – they are not permanent and consequently SELF inevitably experiences heartfelt dissatisfaction and a sense of incompleteness. There is a sense in which we are “not enough.”

It is important to recognize that none of the things that SELF seeks will satisfy you as long as SELF is in control. No matter what you have or get, you will not experience lasting joy. You will be constantly seeking after fulfilment.

Ecc 1:14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.

 One side effect of this feasting on My sCREAM is the constant need for comparison. We compare ourselves with others.

A spin off of that is that how they view us is how we see ourselves.

Spiritual maturity is tied to our ability to clearly see and live out the reality that what I perceive, experience, think or feel is ultimately not who I am. Who I am cannot be found in things that continuously pass away.

1 John 2: 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

 For this reason it is important to learn more about your SELF so that we can identify it in action. Once you recognize the actions of SELF, it is weakened. Recognition weakens it and its hold on you.

 SELF also feeds on NOT Me PIE.

 For the concept “I” to have significance it needs to have something as a contrast. If you place a white object on a white background it does not stand out.

Think about it. If everybody was IDENTICAL there would be no room or need for SELF to boost itself.

In order to grow SELF needs to feast on NOT Me PIE.

The more SELF can identify differences with others, the more special it becomes and a UNIQUE SELF is really special. One of a kind or rare things have increased value. SELF knows that and does everything to get the corrupted you to find ways in which you are different.

Amazingly, the difference does not have to be positive in SELF’s favour. Being really bad also makes SELF stand out and exposure has value.

So, in many instances anti-social behaviour and disobedience are really strategies for SELF to grow by getting attention from being different.

 Where are we going with this?

  •  We are looking at how we can actually go about self denial.
  •  We first sought to identify the SELF that is to be denied.
  •  We then started to look at what sustains SELF. How can we weaken it?
  •  We looked at SELF’s dietary habits…. My sCREAM and NOT Me PIE.

One effect of NOT Me PIE is the drive for “Me” to stand out. So it has to focus on finding differences with others. This actually leads to finding fault with others and complaining about them. When we put down others it makes us feel superior.

Fault finding is a core function of the impostor SELF that you so happily embrace as YOU.

Christ is alert to this deceptive plan.

Matt 7: 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?

Complaining and its emotional counterpart Resentment add energy to the false SELF. When we complain, we add emotions to it. We feel bitter, angry, aggrieved, offended. This strengthens SELF.

It has been observed that the things that you react to most strongly in others and mistakenly take as their identity tend to be the same faults that are also in you. You have just been unable or unwilling to detect them within yourself.

The key is to recognize that in your interactions with others, the actions of their SELF is not who they really are. We live in an environment in which rogue SELFs are engaging one another.

That is why conflict, competition, distrust, hate and other ills abound.

It is important to note that resentment is not limited to persons but also to situations which give the false SELF even more scope.

This capacity to look beyond and to avoid reacting to the SELF-driven actions of others is the essence of humility, longsuffering and forgiveness.

Humility takes us to the understanding that we all have imperfections and that fault finding is not a very useful activity.

Longsuffering allows us to be patient when things do not go the way that we want them to.

Forgiveness comes naturally when you recognize that the only purpose of grievance and resentment is to strengthen a false sense of SELF and to feed it more NOT Me PIE.

Whatever the behaviour that comes from SELF, the hidden driving force is always similar: Need to stand out, to be special, to be in control, to have power, to get attention, to get more. Also, the need to feel a sense of difference (I am not like that).

SELF is dysfunctional. It always has a hidden agenda. That is why Christ requires of us that we deny ourselves (that false SELF).

Why then was it so challenging to separate your SELF from YOU?

The point is that you have been lulled into accepting all that goes on within you to be YOU. The reality is that you are a victim of identity theft. An impostor has slipped in mostly unnoticed and taken up residence in you under the guise of being the real YOU.

The real problem is that the identity theft has been so slick that the vast majority of persons do not even realize that there is a false self in place. They mistakenly see this impostor as themselves. They think: “This is who I am!” They live that lie to the point where in some instances the two are undistinguishable to them.

The failure to recognize the impostor and to blow the whistle on the threat of identity theft gives the impostor more strength. The impostor thrives on the ignorance and lack of attentiveness and takes over more and more of what should be YOU.

The search for who you are is greatly assisted by knowing who you are not. We must understand that we are NOT SELF.

It is interesting to note that, who you think you are is directly linked to how you think others are treating you. That shapes how you think about yourself. If you think that others are lavishing love upon you, you think that you are loved person.

One important consideration is that whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are in fact withholding from the world!

So, if you feel that you are missing something – start giving it. If you do not think that you have it – act as if you do and it will come to you. Then you give it and in turn you will receive it.

Luke 6: 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

 A failure to starve SELF will condemn us because it moves us away from being able to observe the two great commandments – Loving God and Loving our neighbour as ourselves. Mark 12:30

Salvation can only come when you recognize SELF for what it is and take care to separate your core, true YOU from it.

Once you make the distinction, your responsiveness to the Gospel call becomes easy. The cares of the world no longer choke the Word and it bears fruit in your heart. You recognize that you are a creature of Almighty God and that you are in a sinful state. You accept the need for you to take steps to change your status and to change your ways. You are willing and ready to announce to the world your belief that Jesus is Lord. You accept and are ready to put on Christ in water baptism for the remission of your sins and to walk in the newness of life.

The untutored, unattended SELF is the advocate of the flesh.

The transformed YOU manifests the fruit of the spirit:

Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Be on guard, be alert. There is an impostor taking over your identity.  Once you identify him and monitor him closely the scam is defeated and the TRUE YOU is able to present itself. This YOU is in Christ and is obedient to His will.

God bless YOU!

 

 

3 Fatal Dangers of Failing to Live in the Shoes of Others ….Christian Living from Inside The Shoes Of Others

The objective of this lesson is to share insights as to how we can make “love your neighbour as yourself” become a reality and a feature of how we relate to others.

I suggest that one essential and sufficient component of our quest to love our neighbour as ourselves is the need to consistently place ourselves in the shoes of others.

I invite you to reflect on whether someone who consistently appreciates the circumstances surrounding the actions and mindset of others is not ideally placed to be more considerate towards them.

On the other hand, is it not reasonable to conclude that someone who seldom sees things from the perspective of others is more prone to be engaged in conflicts and to be challenged by requests for empathy?

I want to highlight three sets of dangers that hang over our heads when we fail to “live” in the shoes of others.

 

Esteem issues 

One of the goals of our socialization is to get us to feel good about ourselves.

That process has the side effect of inviting comparisons with others.

That is the first danger we face when we are not able to put ourselves in the shoe of others.  We run the risk of getting caught in the trap of comparison.

Remember that our traditional socialization seeks to position us in a favourable light.

This often means that we are more likely to view others less favourably. We might be led to think that if we dim their light ours may appear brighter.

This, however, runs counter to the Scriptures which commands us to esteem others better than ourselves. (Ph 2:3)

Sometimes when we compare we fall short. We do not always come out feeling that we are better off than others.

When that happens too often we might be driven to question our own self worth.

The tendency towards comparison opens up risks to our Christian walk.

When we perceive that others are more favourably placed than we are, we open the door to the fatal sins of covetousness and envy.

Our socialization strongly encourages us to be ambitious. In satisfying our ambition we face the ever present danger of falling prey to envy and covetousness.

What about the other end of the spectrum?

What happens when we weigh ourselves in the balance and come  away with the sense that we have the advantage?

A sense of feeling better off than others has as a constant companion the risk of being proud. Pride has been identified as one of the deadly sins and the Bible is a strong advocate of humility.

What then of this living in the shoes of others concept?

The starting point is the recognition that as humans, we are not in total control over our circumstances. Our actions do impact how life unfolds for us but we are also subjected to influences outside of our control.

We appreciate and accept that the shoe that someone else is standing in is not entirely of their design and construction. We also note that but for the grace of God, those very shoes could be ours.

Do not imagine it to be unthinkable that you could find yourself in the situation in which some people find themselves. Life is a great leveller. The unthinkable can become our reality without notice and despite our protestations.

So we proceed from the foundation of the recognition that the shoe in which we stand is not necessarily of our design and creation.

From that foundation we can learn to see people where they are and to respect their position. We also arrive at a place where we recognize that there is no need for comparison.

If your shoes could be mine and mine yours of what value is to me to compare?

I learn to come to a perspective of life which understands that the shoes that I am in are not entirely of my own creation but these are the ones I am required to wear. They are mine. I had better learn to be comfortable in them.

Fixating on how much more or less attractive and comforting other shoes are is not particularly helpful. That thinking is not going to change mine.

Competitive Instinct

The second danger of failing to consistently live in the shoes of others is that comparison has a tendency to encourage competition.

The nature of competition is that it involves opposing sides. Further, the objective of a competition is that one side will defeat the other side. Victors emerge from competitions. There is the joy of victory and the agony of defeat.

Consider going through the socially required comparison with the neighbour next door. Once again, they come out ahead of you in your evaluation.

Your socialization coaching yells at you that you are betraying a lack of ambition and a defeatist attitude when you continue to let the balance be tipped in the favour of your neighbour.

Wake up and show some spunk!

Responding to the strident and persistent coaching you reflect on your neighbour. You blame yourself for helping to create the imbalance because you have always been so supportive and willing to help.

That has to stop!

No more offers of help. You are on your own neighbour. In fact, I now fully recognize you as my opponent.

That is the very real danger that comparison invites.

What about the neighbour on the other side?

Truth is I have been putting out a lot to help him through difficult times. But with my new understanding of the fact that we are in fact competitors and opponents, I fear that it is only a matter of time before he catches up with me and passes me…………. with my help!

Sorry neighbour — er opponent, I can no longer be as receptive to your call for help. I have challenges of my own. I am so far back in this competition that I have to start paying attention to catching up.

I just can’t afford to channel my time and my resources to address your needs.

You could see from this how variations of the Parable of the Good Samaritan could play out itself with this mindset.

The scary truth is that this mindset is prevalent and attends to our own personal doors more than we would like to admit.

It is cleverly disguised and is not manifested to us in this unvarnished state. But be not fooled, some element of fallout from comparison and competitiveness is at play in our lives.

The socialization is so deeply ingrained that it is difficult to totally root out the competitive instinct. Indeed, the NEED to be competitive is reinforced daily.

We can see then that a logical extension of comparison with others can quickly lead to feeling a need to be victorious over them. The world loves winners. We all crave being in the winners circle.

This mindset if left unchecked can produce serious challenges to Christian living. In our worldly thinking, those that we believe come out better than us in the comparison need to be brought down.

Those who are worse off need to be kept down.

With that mindset, the thought of providing assistance in a time of need is alien.

It is great that high riders are brought low. Let them look to their own kind to rescue them.

They do not need my help.

If they are lower down on the rung, then we really do not want to get caught up in their misery. We are past that and want to move on.

Either way, the misadventure of others gives us a competitive advantage. It gives us a higher place in the competition.

From this we can more readily understand some of the mindset that underpins the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

It builds on the philosophy of a Scarcity mentality. A belief that there is just not enough to go around and so the more I can prevent others from getting the more will be available to me.

The provision of manna and the exposure of those with a scarcity mentality reinforces the weakness of this philosophy.

Lack of Understanding

The third set of dangers arising from the failure to live in the shoes of others is the fact that it discourages longsuffering and forgiveness.

When we put ourselves in someone’s shoes, we come to a deeper understanding of what is going through their minds. We come to appreciate the factors that are influencing their thinking. We have a sense of how they may have been prompted to act.

From the perspective of their shoes, we have a better handle on how events unfolded and we are positioned to respond appropriately.

One immense advantage of ensuring that we are in the shoes of others before we respond is that it gives us cause to pause.

An emotional reaction is triggered when an incident takes place. This is a raw gut reaction to stimuli.

We sense that we have been insulted so we react be sending out an even more caustic insult.

The call of the renewed mind is to quickly step in the shoes of the insulting party. Come to appreciate the circumstances that led to the incident.

That process provides us with precious cooling off seconds. We are now no longer being driven by fickle and dangerous emotions but by rational thinking.

That simple pause that shifts the game from emotional gut reaction to thoughtful reasoned response makes a huge difference in being Christ-like as it relates to longsuffering and forgiveness.

One feature of the old man that must be mercilessly slain is the tendency to be led by our emotions. An indication of our level of maturity is the extent to which we are driven by our emotions instead of being guided by the Scriptures to respond appropriately.

Impatience aside, there is also the challenge of un-forgiveness.

If we can fathom why someone behaves as they did, we are better placed to be understanding and to forgive them.

This is especially true if we recall that shoes may move among people. Your shoes today might be mine tomorrow.

So, what is the conclusion of this matter?

Empathy or living in the shoes of others is the bedrock on which loving others as you love yourself is grounded.

We must bear each other’s burden and be united in a common cause (Gal 6:2). That is the very opposite of the spirit of competitiveness where each one seeks their own good – totally ignoring the needs of others.

We must be patient with others and forgive them they way that God forgives us. (Col.3:13)

Philippians 2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The bottom line is that when we fail to live in the shoes of others we set off a C chain:

We Compare, We Compete and we are quick to Condemn.

From the shoes of others, we replace Comparison with Celebration or Commiseration.

We no longer Compete instead we Cooperate.

Instead of swift Condemnation we Comfort or Correct.