The Solo Chair

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This past week I was sitting in a youth service and the youth pastor told everyone to close their eyes.  He said to picture a room with only a chair set in the middle.  Then he said to picture the person you need to forgive and start honoring sitting in the chair.  I closed my eyes and at first could not really think of anyone.  Then I saw myself sitting in the chair and the realization of how hard I am on myself hit me.  My own criticisms of myself and my self-talk can be brutal.  The standard of perfection I hold myself to is unreasonable and yet I continue to do it.  Instead of enjoying a moment, I will find myself criticizing what I could have done instead of just enjoying the moment. Many of us are similar in the way we treat ourselves.  We are often the one sitting in our own solo chair.

Why are we so hard on ourselves?  Many of us struggle with a committee of “us” in the brain who act like judges from American Idol and criticize everything we do.  One of the reason so many of us struggle to overcome different areas of our life is because  we will not forgive ourselves.  This attitude can make us bitter and cynical.  We feel like we cannot overcome so we start looking for the worse in others.  We also begin making excuses for our lack of change, “I’ve always been this way,” or “This is the way I am so deal with it.”  These are excuses for our inability to change because we have completely lost faith in ourselves.  How can this change? Here are a few areas to help.

Forgive First

  1. Nothing will change if we do not forgive ourselves.  The difficulty lies within our own thoughts.  We know our inner motivations and attitudes no one else sees, so sometimes those weigh heavy on us. Our inner attitudes often show us what a mess we are and therefore we feel like we should pay.

  2. We can build the thought that we “don’t deserve forgiveness,” so we give it to everyone else, but ourselves.   The danger of not forgiving ourselves lies in the pent up bitterness and rage that can build up inside of us.  We can hide it well but eventually the bitterness will spill onto others.  Forgiveness cannot be a pick and choose accessory, it must be an all in attitude.

Find Friends

  1. We must find people who we can be ourselves around.  Exhaustion comes from putting on a front and pretending to be someone we are not.  Many people stay home and avoid relationships because they do not feel like pretending.  We must have a group of people we can be around where we can be ourselves.  In an interconnected society, authentic friendships are severely lacking for many of us today.

  2. Friends are people who like us for us and not for what we can do for them.  Finding friends takes initiative, work and does not happen overnight or on the web.  We need people we spend time with and build bridges of trust.  Those are the ones we can be honest and authentic around.  Mask wearing will be unacceptable around them because they will know the real us.  How many real friends do we have today?  Netflix and Prime Videos, do not count!

Fight Feelings

  1. Feelings are real, but feelings often lie.  Too many people live their life based on the way they feel and feelings are incredibly fickle.  Just because we feel something does not make it true, yet many of us treat ourselves poorly based on feelings and not fact.  This does not mean we lie to ourselves and act like everything is fine, but we have to learn how to recognize a fleeting feeling and a feeling we should listen to.   Learning to understand our feelings and know which ones to listen to takes time and usually takes help.

  2. We have talked about the power of journaling in the past and how it helps us, but sometimes we need help with our feelings.  This may mean joining a small group or going to counseling.  These are not bad things or only for the “weak.”  They are tools that we can use to do a job.  They key for us lies in doing something and not just letting our feelings rule over us.  Men who are slaves to their feelings are dangerous to themselves, their families, and to society as a whole.

Are you sitting in the solo chair of your mind?

Let today start the journey of freedom from the solo chair.  The journey is not easy, but it is worth the effort.

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