If you’re here, I first just want to say – Kudos to you. Maybe you’ve recognized some things in yourself you want to change – Thought patterns, behaviors, or maybe how you treat others. That’s a big step. Most people aren’t that motivated to confront themselves and change.
That being said, there are two keys to letting God make you a better person:
Examination + Surrender
- Examination is needed to thoroughly understand what needs changed and why it’s there in the first place
- Surrender is needed to let go of what doesn’t need to be there, surrender those things to God, and let Him put something new in you
Here’s how it works in more detail:
“No one knows what he himself is made of, except his own spirit within him, yet there is still some part of him which remains hidden even from his own spirit; but you, Lord, know everything about a human being because you have made him…Let me, then, confess what I know about myself, and confess too what I do not know, because what I know of myself I know only because you shed light on me, and what I do not know I shall remain ignorant about until my darkness becomes like bright noon before your face.”– St. Augustine
We can’t change ourselves unless we understand what needs to be changed, why it’s there, and how to change it. We have to confront and examine ourselves in order to make this happen.
In short, self-awareness is key.
This is uncomfortable – Not many people put in the work to do this! But it’s so worth it.
Emotional ignorance and lack of self-awareness are some of humanity’s biggest flaws right now, and something I want to help rectify. People sabotage their careers and relationships without even realizing it.
Many of us don’t understand why we feel certain emotions or behave the way we do, we don’t understand the beliefs behind them, we don’t understand how our biases affect them, and we believe that just because we feel angry about something, we must be right. We can do better!
“Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one’s awareness of one’s ignorance.”Anthony de Mello
“Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.”Thich Nhat Hanh
“Awareness is a key ingredient in success. If you have it, teach it, if you lack it, seek it.”Michael B. Kitson
“I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.”Billie Jean King
“Awareness precedes change.”Robin Sharma
According to a study by Cornell in 2010, self-awareness was found to be the strongest predictor of overall success of leaders.
Here’s a few reasons why:
- Awareness of our strengths and challenges enables us to work with others who have different strengths than us
- We are also more able to accept the idea that someone else may have better ideas or abilities than us, which we can benefit from
- A lack of self-awareness can alienate others because we don’t understand how our actions impact others
Self-awareness helps you be aware of your emotions and behaviors so you can improve them, and helps you assess yourself honestly so you know how to improve.
By getting to the root cause—the belief that drives your behavior or emotion—we are making it less likely in the future for you to exhibit that same negative behavior again.
Things have been said to you, and things have happened to you, that have “stuck” to you over time, creating this belief. But that belief can be changed, which can change your behavior.
Instead of being afraid to lose control, reaffirm a more positive replacement belief to yourself. Say things like “When things don’t go my way, I’m still in control of my thoughts and emotions”, or “people love me and support me, they don’t want to take control away from my life”.
Journaling is a key way to examine yourself and become more self-aware. Here are a few critical questions to ask yourself about any behaviors or emotions you’d like to improve:
- What am I feeling about this situation?
- Am I justified in feeling that way?
- How can I express myself in a healthy way?
- Why do I behave this way?
- Is that belief justified?
- Is there a healthier belief I can form instead?
Surrender + Let Go
Equally as hard as examining the behaviors and emotions within yourself that need changed, is surrendering those behaviors and emotions to God.
“All great spirituality teaches about letting go of what you don’t need and who you are not.”– Richard Rohr
Let’s say you recognize resentment in your life toward another person – maybe a friend, boss, spouse, or family member. First, examine why it’s there in the first place. Maybe they really did wrong you. Or maybe your resentment was caused by a trigger that you might have formed over the years from a past experience. Maybe that person just so happened to say just the right thing to set off that trigger within you, making it not their fault at all.
If that’s the case, remember that it’s ok that you were triggered. But it’s up to you to understand the trigger, heal from it, and make sure you don’t cause pain to others because of it.
Either way, triggered or not, justified or not, you now understand your resentment in detail.
Let’s keep going with the resentment example.
Next, it’s time to let go of that resentment and give it God. Apologize and repent, if that’s what you feel comfortable with. I personally think this just requires a simple letting go of your resentment. It doesn’t have to be overly self-punishing.
It might be hard to let go of your resentment at first (or other emotion and behavior). Keep letting it go. Sometimes things get fused to our hearts and minds. Sometimes it takes repetition to actually pry those things off.
Next, as you let go of your resentment, replace it by meditating (or contemplating) on who God is – His infinite love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, and wisdom. Replace your resentment, worry, anxiety, bad habits, mistakes, and failures, with the greatness and bigness of God.
He’s a much healthier thing to contemplate, I promise! You will find yourself experiencing much more relief from your resentment or other blockage at this time. If not, keep surrendering your resentment or other blockage to the person of God.
Next, as you surrender, I encourage you to let God give you new thoughts to replace your resentment. In this particular example, it could be new thoughts to the person you used to resent, thoughts like “May you be happy, may you be peaceful”.
Hard to hold a grudge when you wish nothing but the best for that person.
This same process applies to anything and everything you want God to form in your life and character: Peace, kindness, goodness, patience, self-control, generosity, hospitality…the list goes on.
When experiencing anxiety, get quiet, let go of it, surrender it to God, contemplate who God is instead and enjoy His presence, then choose His peace instead.
For every negative, surrender it, and focus on God’s positive replacement of that.
This takes time. Be patient.
Another note: Some negatives don’t need an immediate positive replacement. That can lead to toxic positivity. That goes back to the self-examination and self-awareness mentioned earlier. Some things in your life, such as hurts or trauma caused by others, need confronted and examined. Suppressing that trauma and trying to quickly replace it with something else, doesn’t bring true healing.
How about you? What has been your experience with letting God transform you? Anything I missed?