Replacing Self-Doubt with God’s Love- By Raegan Allen
I’ve been experimenting with self-help books lately. They seem to be all the rage right now, a trend that began at the onset of the pandemic, when everyone suddenly had plenty of time to think about the big questions they’d been avoiding during their busy lives. Do I feel fulfilled in my career? Am I living the life I want to live? Am I happy? The pandemic’s massive pause button allowed us to take stock of our lives and evaluate our mental wellbeing. If the findings were less than ideal, self-help books promised to, well, help.
After a year of hardship and isolation, I felt the need to do some evaluating. I’ve noticed some habits in my life that I don’t like, most of them relating to how I perceive myself and the world around me. Our brains are amazing things, but if they’re wired to perceive and perpetuate negativity, our lives are going to feel heavy. So, I’ve been reading about how to change my thought patterns, replacing my old, negative thoughts with new, positive thoughts. I’m endeavoring to call myself out on my own games, and work to replace my brain’s lies with the truth. Though I’ve been enjoying a lot of the content in my self-help books, the one place I know I can find the truth is in God’s word. Luckily, the Bible is the best self-help book of them all.
The biggest lie my brain likes to tell me is that I am not good enough. Replace “good” with any positive adjective — pretty, smart, successful, fun — my brain has tried them all. This is problematic for obvious reasons. If I’m feeling down on myself, not only is my attitude dampened, but all of my brain power is wasted on lamenting my alleged imperfections and wishing I were different. Self-doubt, then, is really a selfish enterprise. The enemy loves to catch us in this trap, because we become too caught up in our own misery to focus on helping others and growing closer to God. In order to dismantle our negative beliefs and escape our self-absorption, we must replace our long-held lies with God’s truth.
When I say I’m not good enough, what does God say?
That I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13–14
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
In this psalm, David describes God’s intimacy to His creation. He designed us exactly how we should be. Therefore, when we degrade ourselves, we degrade God’s handiwork. When I spend too long in front of the mirror, picking apart my physical appearance, it is essential I remember these words. Not only are they beautiful and reassuring, but they have the power to stop a self-doubt spiral in its tracks.
That integrity secures me. Proverbs 10:9
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely,
but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
This is a great verse to repeat whenever we measure our worth by metrics outside of God’s word. I may be convinced that I am the least funny person in my group of friends, causing my self-worth to plummet. However, Solomon reminds us that God values integrity, and that this virtue secures us. There is nothing wrong with valuing something like a good sense of humor, but let’s remember to focus on traits that God rewards.
That the Lord Himself is my helper. Hebrews 13:6
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?”
This is one of my favorite verses to combat self-doubt and center myself in God’s love and security. In the midst of a difficult task, my habit is often to convince myself that I’m not up to it. I’m not smart enough to get a good grade on this essay, not talented enough to get this job, etc. These fears indicate that I’m operating inside a worldly mindset, forgetting God’s powerful presence in my life. By repeating this verse instead of entertaining my insecurities, I can empower myself to complete my earthly task while simultaneously shifting my mindset to spiritual matters.
That my faith rests on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5
I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
When we work to dismantle self-doubt, we must be careful not to replace it with arrogance. We are human, imperfect by definition. The good news is, we don’t need to dwell on these imperfections; rather, we can trust in God’s absolute sovereignty. In this passage, Paul acknowledges his own frailty and gives all the credit to God. He doesn’t degrade himself, just admits his humanness and shifts the focus to the Lord. We would do well to follow Paul’s example.
That perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:16-18
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Living with God’s love inside of us releases us from fear, insecurity, and self-doubt. It doesn’t mean that we won’t occasionally struggle with these things, but that God has given us a way to overcome them. There is no fear in love. I’ve been reading a lot about attention-shifting lately, and this verse is a fantastic shifter. When we feel tempted to doubt ourselves or our worth, reminding ourselves that God’s boundless and perfect love lives in us can prove incredibly powerful. Let’s choose to focus on love. If God Himself pours His love on us, who are we not to love ourselves, too?
In order to combat self-doubt and unhealthy ways of thinking, we must replace our negative thoughts with God’s truth. Every time you feel yourself slipping into one of your own trenches, catch yourself in the act, and lift yourself with a verse that speaks to you. Luckily for us, our brains are extremely elastic. If we consistently replace negative thoughts with the truths in God’s word, our self-deprecating habits will start to lose their power, and we will begin to default to a more spiritual mindset. Let’s start taking steps to erase self-doubt, choose love, and shift the focus to God!