Now I can’t speak to how men self sooth, but for women it usually involves ice cream, chocolate or something high in sugar, fat and empty calories. That way, we can simultaneously eat yummy, fattening food while beating ourselves up emotionally for eating it, further perpetuating the love-hate see-saw ride we’re on. I knowyou know what I’m talking about!
I hate the see-saw! And those mental attacks can come out of nowhere. I’m sitting there minding my own business, exhausted after a long day, and it’s like the good guy in my head took a nap or something because the bad guy starts creeping in past my defenses. It can start off innocently enough. Maybe it’s just a reminder of something that went wrong with my day, or something I would like to handle better in the future. Then – wham! – those thoughts somehow morph into a litany of all that’s gone wrong with my life or all I need to handle more effectively, or worse – a good back beating of all my failures and character flaws. Dang! It just doesn’t take him long to get me deflated.
Thankfully, I’ve learned to let the good guy in my head, the Holy Spirit, come to my rescue. The Spirit never tries to just pacify me with pithy statements of how it’s okay because we all make mistakes, or how I should just be happy. He’s willing to take me back to the scene of the crime and take a good, hard look with me. He never lies to me. He never sugar coats things. But he’ll remind me of how I handled a situation better than the one before, or how I recovered emotionally from it more quickly, or how I learned such a powerful lesson from my circumstance it has propelled me forward. In other words, the Spirit reminds me of my true victories and of what really matters.
Even if it’s an area of my life that’s currently “under construction,” he whispers in my ear words of encouragement, reminding me my life is a journey to be travelled. He helps me recall ways I’ve grown over time previously to help me maintain hope and vision for the current hill (or mountain!) I find myself climbing. He restores my hope and peace.
I’ve learned the easiest way to step back onto solid ground is through prayer. When I take a moment — or sometimes a really long moment! — and invite God into my situation, He obliges. When I feel like I’m stuck on that crazy sew-saw of emotions, he reminds me of my positive truths and helps me regain my footing.
For further thought: There’s a passage I love that starts in Ephesians 5:16 which I will condense here for our purposes: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law … those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Your sinful nature – the bad guy in your head – reminds you of the “law,” or all the ways you’ve screwed up. This week, look for ways to allow God’s Spirit to remind you the grace and freedom you’ve been given, of His unfailing, unflinching love for you, and continued direction for the path He is leading you on.