We Have Met The Enemy, and He Is Us! “If you’re going to be successful, you have to have thick skin! You know, that ability to withstand criticism and hurtful comments about who you are and what you do.”
That statement is from a blog I recently wrote called “Grow thick, armor-plated skin.” And I discussed ways to deal with the barbs, criticisms and judgments directed toward us from others.
However, I realized there’s another, perhaps even more important, truth related to growing thick, armor-plated skin. We need to protect us from us! Or, as the cartoon strip “Pogo” declared in 1970: “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us.”
We can be our own worst critics, thinking and often saying things like:
- “I’m not smart enough, pretty enough, fit enough, talented enough, etc. Basically, “I’m not good enough.”
- “It’s not going to happen for me, no use in trying.”
Examples of this type of thinking go all the way back to Biblical times. Moses was chosen by God for a special task—to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. And one of his first tasks was to confront Pharaoh. But Moses said, “since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?....O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Basically, he was saying: “God I can’t do that. I don’t have what it takes.”
But Moses had a job to do and God wasn’t going to let him talk himself out of his assignment – he needed to speak up and lead the Israelites to the Promised Land!
We, like Moses, have something to do here on earth, a purpose for our lives. And we must not let those inner voices, fears or doubts stop us!
Lisa, a young lady in one of our counseling training classes, declared she was very shy and privately let me know that she could not speak up in class. She kept saying she had stage fright, she wasn’t good with people, etc. (She probably identified with Moses!) While I respected her wishes and did not call on her, it was interesting to see what began to happen. She came to every class, sat quietly and absorbed every word.
Gradually you could see her becoming more comfortable and then one day it happened! She raised her hand and made a comment!
From that day forward, she began to come out of her shell like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. She responded to the class challenge to “step out of your comfort zone” and today, she is teaching in a foreign country, a confident, well-spoken ambassador for God and the US. She has developed thick, armor-plated skin for herself!
Let me share some of the principles Lisa learned in class:
- Stop Comparing Yourself With Others
Albert Einstein stated: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Steve Furtick, Christian author, puts it this way: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
When you compare yourself with others, you are indeed acting as your own worst enemy.
Instead, celebrate you and your unique assets, abilities, strengths and gifts. Write down five of them right now to get started! You can also study what God says about you in the Bible. I have a list of 38 scriptures declaring who you are. If you’d like a copy, send me a note.
- Think and speak differently
Here are three declarations I make each morning:
“This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it!”
“I feel happy; I feel healthy; I feel terrific!”
“Every day in every way I’m getting better and better!”
- Declare your progress, not your limitations
“When I read or hear something new that will help me, I write it down and practice it as soon as I can.”
“I’m developing networks in my field.”
“Maybe it didn’t work this time, but I’m going to keep trying.”
“God, I’m going to do the best job I can do, then leave the rest to you.”
When you (1) stop comparing yourself with others, (2) think and speak differently and (3) declare your progress, not your limitations, you will certainly develop thick, armor-plated skin for yourself. As you do, it will change how you deal with adversity, set-backs and discouragement. Instead of being “your own worst enemy” and feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless, you start becoming “your own best cheerleader!”
Decide today that even if long ago someone made you feel “not good enough,” you are determined to meet the enemy and defeat him. If Moses and Lisa can do it, so can you!!