Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Unholy Mirror

When I write about healing in my posts I am usually talking about spiritual healing. Physical healing is wonderful but many times it's simply the byproduct of a much deeper inner healing. Sometimes we block God's healing - in my own life one of the greatest stumbling blocks to healing was and is myself. As this stumbling block is moved out of the way the spiritual healing my soul needs has sped up.

One of the more common stumbling blocks to healing is self-hatred. The wrong kind of self-hatred. We aren't talking about the self-hatred the saints speak about here that's aimed at the false self. We're talking about a very real hatred/dislike of oneself. And it comes about through looking at yourself in an unholy mirror.

What is this unholy mirror?

It's all the false things you've told yourself and others have told you since you were very small that warp the way you see yourself and the way you see others. Add to that the wounds others have inflicted upon you and the wounds you inflicted upon yourself by your own sins and you begin to see how a distortion in the way you see yourself can become a big obstacle. For those who were raised in dysfunctional households - think of all the negative pictures others have painted of you with their words and/or actions (this also includes those things NOT done or said that should have been), especially when you were young and impressionable, and you can see how this might be a big problem. Children have no reason to believe an adult wouldn't be telling them the truth so they begin to believe that something is innately wrong with them.

God wants to shatter this mirror. Or at least break it away piece by piece. He wants you to see yourself  through HIS eyes. He wants you to see your potential in Him. He wants us to know we are loved and cherished by Him.

In my case, the Lord chipped away at this false mirror gradually. No doubt had He removed it all at once I wouldn't have been able to accept it. Plus, its gradual removal has taught (and is teaching) me a lot.

This hatred of oneself  may not be obvious to those who suffer from it because to them it's normal - they've lived with it all their lives and have never seen themselves in any other way. In other cases it's very obvious because it manifests all the time in their thought life. It's extremely prevalent in those who come from dysfunctional homes - children of alcoholics or drug addicts, those who are abused verbally/physically/sexually, those who are raised in homes where one or both parents are mentally ill, children of divorce, etc..

That covers a lot of homes.

I should have known I had a problem with this because it was quite obvious even as a child. I often felt defeated before I even began something. The world seemed overwhelming to me. If someone said something nice about me I would automatically correct their "mistake". I knew something was terribly wrong but I just didn't know what that terrible something was.

 When I was in my twenties I read a lot of self-help books and tried to speak more positively about myself but it didn't really sink in - the only thing I was positive about was that I had a big problem. Saying positive things about yourself doesn't correct the underlying issues. It doesn't heal the wounds. Plus, I always felt like I was lying. Saying something is true doesn't necessarily make it so.

 We need to throw away the false pictures of ourselves (the way we see ourselves/the way others see us) and ask God how HE sees us.

His is the true picture. And His is the one that really matters.

Prayer: courtesy of Mary's Rosary Chain


  1. Thanks for this post. I never thought that believing the labels others put on me was self hatred, but now I see that it is. Looking forward to more of your insights.

  2. Mary,

    We have such a responsibility toward our own children. I never felt good enough as a child. Whatever I did, it was not enough, and so I didn't feel very loved and lovable. With my own children, I remember to tell them I love them and to show physical affection. I often ask, "Who made you so beautiful?" and they answer, "God!" The advantage of having been through pain as a child, is that I can see more clearly what my children need and I try to give it to them. Of course, I am not perfect and they aren't either. But that's fine. God loves us anyway!

    Thanks for some great posts.

    God bless

  3. This is a well-written article making a lot of good sense. It deserves a wider audience.

    Perhaps you should publish it in the Community website too so that visitors there might see it.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. It is very helpful.

    God bless you.

  4. Hi Monica,
    I think this kind of labeling has an especially detrimental effect on the young. If that skewed view isn't corrected they carry that false picture into adulthood with them and it colors everything they do to a greater or lesser degree.

  5. Hi Sue,
    Yes, I can relate and I do the same with my daughter :) I also agree that there are advantages to painful childhoods. Along with teaching us to be better parents I also believe it makes us more compassionate people. Thanks for commenting!

  6. Hi Victor,
    Thank you :) Maybe I'll put my next post up on both sites - it's a bit more detailed than this one.

    God bless you too!

  7. Mary,
    What you have written here most of us need to hear. That self hatred comes in many forms, and those "tapes" tend to replay themselves over and over in our hearts and heads.
    I sometimes think that the difficulty I have with others stems from my difficulty in being with myself. "I'm not good enough" can be put on others and we may unconsciously or subconsciously think: "They are not good enough."
    I agree it is important to ask God to heal these wounds within us so that we can at least begin to see ourselves, and love ourselves as He does.
    Looking forward to your next post.

  8. Hi Karin,
    Yes,they do tend to play themselves over and over and simply shutting them down does not work - it just gives us a respite. The key is deep interior healing. We are not truly free as long as we are living out of this false view of ourselves.

    It's like the ultimate identity crisis ;)

  9. That is so true what you said in your comment to me. I have often felt that I might have done so much more with my life had I not allowed myself to be held back by wrong thinking. I guess the good news is I'm still alive and I can make a new start, however late.

  10. Mary, it's so good to see you write this about seeing ourselves as God sees us. For the past few years that's been a prayer of mine because it forces me to admit that He loves me and sees me as loveable as well as admitting the areas where I need improvement.

    One think that happens to kids in an abusive environment is that often, before the age of reason, they make decisions about themselves and their lives that are very detrimental, and as you've written here, it takes a heap o' diggin' to get out of the hole. We have to go back to square one: God loves me unconditionally and loves me more than I can ever love myself. Once I get that straight in my mind, heart, and soul, then I can surrender and let Him lead.

  11. Hi Mary! I've been awol a bit, on one of my famous "blogging breaks" I suppose. But this is such a great topic for you to be writing about. I just started working earnestly at healing myself once I found out I had shingles last Dec. What 28 yo gets shingles? So many health problems and I'm sure it's tied in to emotional/physical issues. Conquering self-loathing is difficult. It feels like I have to find the offending parts of my brain, and either remove them or rewire them. And I have to be so diligent just to even find them! I really want to go off my meds - or at least decrease them - because it seems like they dull my intellect and personality, so between that and the physical sickness, I have a strong motivation to work on spiritual/emotional healing. I'm using a devotional journal called "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young and it's my favorite prayer aid in a long time. Looking forward to reading more of your wisdom! So happy to have found you and your blog.