Negative Self-Perception

A negative self-perception is a dominant flesh pattern that plagues most people, which is understandable. Various studies have shown that an average child will hear ten negative non-affirming statements for every positive and affirming statement. In schools where teachers are taught to know better, the ratio is seven non-affirming statements to one positive affirming statement. Such studies also reveal that it takes at least four affirming statements to negate the effect of one non-affirming statement. In our homes that is a disparity ration of 40-to-1.

You just finished a project and your colleagues say, “Good job.” Then your boss comes by and points out that you could have done better. Whose comment will you be thinking about on your way home? I can’t imagine anything less productive than using guilt and shame to motivate people. I could retire if I had a dollar for every time I heard inquirers tell me that a parent has said that they will never amount to anything. Such statements can haunt people their entire life. Often it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Riddled with shame they limp along in life thinking that others are viewing them in the same way.

Guilt says, I have done something wrong. Shame says, There is something wrong with me. The Bible says, There is no condemnation for those who are “in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1), and there is no shame in being a child of God. Sometimes it takes a jolt to take us out of our old way of thinking as the following testimony illustrates:

I have been reading your two books, Victory Over the Darkness and The Bondage Breaker, and I want to thank you for giving two tools that I really needed. I’m the founding pastor of this church having begun 16 years ago, and find myself in the first steps of recovering from a church split. I have never known pain like this, Neil, but I am finding it a tremendous time of learning and growth in the Lord. Your Victory book has been especially helpful in that I have tried to find too much of my identity in what I do as pastor and not enough in who I am as a saint. Thanks for helping me work through this on a new level.

Dr. Neil

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