My Feelings Do Not My Identity Make

October 15, 2015 Written by 

My Feelings Do Not My Identity Make

I have often described our self-identity as being represented by a bucket - similar to the children’s book came out called Fill A Bucket.

When we have a healthy sense of self-identity our bucket will be full and overflowing.

But we all born with a sense of lack or a lie of lack. (this term comes from Jim Richards’ book called ’Breaking The Cycle’)

Let me explain what I mean.

bucket empty

The lie of lack = that somehow I am not good enough, not adequate enough, not valid enough, not important enough, not significant enough, not worth enough, not _______ (you fill in the blank) enough.

When we believe that lie (all of us do or did to some extent or another) the bottom is taken out of our bucket.

Therefore we need constant reassurances that we are ________ enough. We always look for compliments, praise and how much we are liked by others.

Now we have to prove that we are _________ enough. Which means that I have to do all the ‘right’ things in the ‘right’ way.

Both of these are outside of ourselves. We have little to no control over what others think of us or even whether we are doing the ‘right’ things because who decides if they are right? Others. If our identity is based on others, then it will be all over the place because it will then depend on the mood of others, whether they are angry or happy with us, whether they remember to praise and compliment us or whether we were able to do the ‘right’ thing.

It does feel good when we get compliments and praise and when we are liked and when we do the ‘right’ things, but those are so fleeting because they feel good only as they are traveling through our bucket. Then they have to be repeated. Just like Earl’s restaurant slogan is right now: Eat. Drink. Repeat. We could say, Praise. Compliment. Perform. Repeat.

We can keep living like that and many of us do for long periods of time.

What happens when others stop praising and complimenting me or when I simply cannot do all the ‘right’ things anymore?

I will try harder to be ‘good’ and do ‘right’ so that I can pull myself up to be close to where I think I need to be. OR I will pull others down through criticism, judgments, control, power in order to make myself look and feel better than others.

Both of these tear away more and more of the bottom until there is nothing left.

With no bottom on the bucket all our attempts at trying to make ourselves feel good and trying to gain the approval of others fall onto what I call the dung heap.

Does that describe you? I know it sure described me for more years than I care to acknowledge. I still have leaks once in awhile, but I do have a bottom on my bucket.

bucket full

Let me explain how I built that bottom and you can start building (or reinforce) yours as well... I had to realize that...

...getting my self-identity from others is a sure fire way to be nothing
...the more I try to gain approval from others, the more likely I am to do something that will be deemed as not acceptable by someone.
...the more I try to work hard at doing all the ‘right’ things, the deeper I dig myself into the ‘dung heap’ of self-deprecation

Then I realized that my self-identity has to come from inside of myself. 

There has to be an inner sense that I am okay the way I am. An inner knowing that I am fine. An immovable inner core that says I am who I am and that is okay.

It does not matter what other people think of me or how well I do things or if I am doing all the ‘right’ things in the ‘right’ way.

My self-identity no longer comes from outside of me, but it comes from an inner conviction that I am okay. Then I have more say in how stable my identity will be.

The way I did this is by understanding that the Creator of the Universe (as the Creator he has the ultimate authority) says I am valuable, worthwhile, more than adequate, righteous, more than enough.

How do I know this? See our Personal Tool: Exposure.

The Creator of the Universe thought so highly of me that he sent Jesus to earth so that he could die for me and I could then have an abundant life instead of the death I deserved because of my

sin. Jesus did this willingly - he did not have to do this; he could have said ‘no, thank you’. He did this because - guess - he loves me and he thinks highly of me. WOW!!

If that is true - my life attests to it - then who really cares what mere people think of me or whether I am doing everything perfectly right? The Creator of this universe is walking life with me and he will show me the way.

The belief that I am complete in Christ, in who he made me to be, and there is no lack in me has developed a solid and stable inner core that is immovable and unshakable.

My identity is in who God says I am not in what I say or in what others say I am. I am a graceful, wise, caring and intelligent woman.