Changing the way you see yourself changes everything: your life, relationships, heart, mind, and future. Learning how to change your self-image also changes the “little” things: your daily interactions with others, mood, attitude, and energy level.
Here’s a quote that helped me change how I see myself: “Every person should carry two stones in his pocket,” said Rabbi Bunam. “On one should be inscribed, ‘I am but dust and ashes.’ On the other, ‘For my sake was the world created.’ Take out each stone as necessary.”
That quote — about finding the balance between being humble and loved beyond all comprehension — helped change how I see myself. But, it wasn’t the tipping point. It wasn’t the key that changed my life forever. It’s a good quote on how to see myself…but it didn’t actually change how I thought about myself. What helped me change the way I saw myself, you ask? Come, I’ll show you…
It’s important to remember that our hearts, minds and spirits are always seeking an external source of validation. We need to know we matter, that we’re loved and accepted.
We need to know we’re good enough.
It’s not enough to say “I’m good enough, I accept myself, I love myself just the way I am.” We need more than that. We need someone outside ourselves to validate, affirm, and love us. Sometimes we look to marriage, children, work, physical fitness, or other achievements to find the affirmation we desperately need. When we get that love, we think we have everything we need…but it fades. Or it fails. Or it becomes not good enough.
That’s why we’re always searching for tips on how to change the way we see ourselves: nothing on earth works.
How to Change the Way You See Yourself
This article is part of my She Blossoms Through the Bible project, and it’s inspired by Genesis 17. This is the chapter in the Bible where God changes Abram’s name to Abraham. He also changes Sarai’s name to Sarah, and renews His promise that Abraham will become the father of many nations.
You don’t have to believe in God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to benefit from my tips on how to change the way you see yourself. Just keep an open mind and consider new possibilities! Listen to the still small voice that brought you here. Remember that new beginnings blossom from tiny seeds of life. This article — How to Change the Way You See Yourself — is one of those seeds.
1. Make friends with your strengths and your weaknesses
One of my favorite things about the Bible is how real the people are. They’re not perfect cardboard cutouts of people who believe in God and do everything He says perfectly. No way! Human weakness shines forth from the beginning…and so does human strength and beauty. Mistakes, regrets and flaws are honestly portrayed from Genesis to Revelation, on every page, in every story and human life. Abram and Sarai were blessed by God, yet they screwed up so many times. Their mistakes were painful, and had disastrous effects on other people’s lives. Yet, God loved them. Yet, God helped them grow and blossom into who He created them to be! Did Abram and Sarai change the way they see themselves? You better believe it. Read Genesis 17 to learn how, why, and where.
How are you living with your strengths and weaknesses? You, too, have made many mistakes. You have regrets, guilt, even shame. You’ve also done some wonderful things! You helped people, reached out in love and compassion. Here’s where Rabbi Bunam’s two stones come in handy: One stone says you are but dust and ashes. Those are your regrets, weaknesses, failures, warts and wormy bits. The other stone says God created the world for your sake! He also created you, in His image. He knit you together in your mother’s womb, He knew your name long before the earth was created. You have gifts, talents and interests that nobody else else. Let these two diametrically opposed perspectives change the way you see yourself. Ask God to change how you see yourself — and let Him go to work.
If you’re burdened by regret, read Remembering the Past Without Feeling Ashamed or Guilty.
2. Open your heart to seeing yourself differently
Genesis 17 shows how fast — and how slow — change can happen. Abram and Sarai tried for 10 years to conceive a child. They failed. Then, 13 years later, God finally appears and announces that big changes are coming! In total, Abram waited 23 years for a major life change…and when it happened, it happened instantly. Abram and Sarai woke up that morning as themselves, and went to bed that night as Abraham and Sarah. Further, Abraham and his sons and male in his household were circumcised the same day God appeared! Abram’s heart was open to moving in God’s direction. Abram was faithful and ready to obey, even after 23 years of hearing nothing from God. Somehow Abram learned how to quickly change the way he saw himself, how he saw others, and how he saw God.
What changes are you avoiding? I keep telling my husband I want to change my life, make it more meaningful and fulfilling. I say I want a deeper life, I want to step out in faith and trust God. What’s holding me back? I blame our two dogs; they need me writing at home all day. I blame my husband; he doesn’t like change and I’d disrupt his life too much if I actually did something with my life. I’m not changing my life because I haven’t changed how I see myself. I see myself as small and unimportant. What about you — how do you see yourself right now? What life changes are you avoiding because of your self-image?
3. Plant a vision of how you want to see yourself
In Genesis 17 (and earlier) God planted His vision of how Abram should see himself: as a father of many nations, with descendants as many as stars in the sky! God spoke to Abram, and made his vision come to life after years had passed. God worked with Abram, accepted Abram’s failures and weaknesses, and loved Abram through it all. God planted seeds in Abram’s life; Abram’s job was to be aware of them. He watered and nurtured those seeds until they became life, full and real and abundant.
What changes do you want God to make in your self-perception? Ask God for a vision of who He wants you to become. What seeds is He planting in your life? In practical terms, a seed could be an idea for your future job, a vague plan for a new business or project, a fresh hope for an old relationship. Seeds are little possibilities, hopes, ideas, goals, encounters with people and places and Jesus Himself. Seeds always begin as thoughts, which can arise from books, meetings with others, blog posts, prayers, or walks in the forest with your Lord.
Read Genesis 17. See how willing and eager Abram was to change how he saw himself, Sarai, and his life. It started with an encounter with Jesus, and was empowered by faith and action. What can you learn about changing the way you see yourself?
Changing how you see yourself takes time, a willing spirit, and attention to the small seeds that have been planted in your life. Be willing and eager to invest in those seeds, in God’s love for you. Don’t waste Jesus’ life and death. Meet Him, be infused by the Holy Spirit, and make Him part of your daily life. He will change everything, if you let Him.
Your thoughts — big and little — are welcome below!
With His love,
P.S. Are you struggling to break old habits? Read 3 Ways to Stop Wasing Your Life on Meaningless Things.