Today on The Best of You Podcast, we're talking about detoxing from the false beliefs that keep us stuck in unhealthy patterns of relating to other people.
These hidden messages are sneaky. They might sound true in the moment, but they keep us from the healthy two-way relationships we need.
I also answer your questions, and provide sample scripts for communicating in healthy ways with other people.
Here's what we discuss:
1. Examples of toxic thinking
2. How it contaminates our relationships
3. An example of toxic thinking from the Bible
4. How to re-frame toxic thoughts
Plus, I answer your questions:
—How do I communicate with other people about what I'm going through?
—Can spiritual bypassing become a form of numbing?
Thanks to our sponsors:
Organifi —Go to www.organifi.com/bestofyou and use code BESTOFYOU for 20% off your order today.
Music by Andy Luiten
Sound editing by Kelly Kramarik
While Dr. Cook is a counselor, the content of this podcast and any of the products provided by Dr. Cook are not specific counseling advice nor are they a substitute for individual counseling. The content and products provided on this podcast are for informational purposes only.
- For more on The 7 Red Flags of Friendship and Spiritual Bypassing, see Chapters 8 and 10 of The Best of You, by Dr. Alison Cook
- Episode 1: What is Narcissism Really?
- Episode 2: What Should I Know About Gaslighting?
- 2 Samuel 11-12
- John 14:15-17
- Galatians 5:22-23
- Philippians 4:7
The Best of You Podcast: Ways to Detox Your Heart, Mind and Soul
Episode 37 with Dr. Alison Cook
19th Jan, 2023
Alison: Most of us could use more energy in our day. But we have to find ways to replenish our bodies in healthy ways. It turns out two main factors in low energy are chronic stress and a lack of nutrition.
Organifi creates delicious, superfood blends that address both of these problems. In the morning try Organifi Green Juice with essential superfoods and a clinical dose of ashwagandha. It helps reduce stress and support healthy cortisol levels.
In the afternoon, I love Organifi Red Juice. It's a superfood punch that increases energy without the caffeine, and only two grams of sugar. Each Organifi blend is easy to use by simply mixing it with water or your favorite beverage while on the go, and they don't compromise quality for taste.
Organifi takes pride in offering the best-tasting superfood products, on the market, at a price that works out to less than $3 a day. You can experience Organifi's high-quality superfoods without breaking the bank. Head over to www.organifi.com/bestofyou and use code BESTOFYOU, for 20% off your entire order. That's Organifi, o-r-g-a-n-i-f-i.com/bestofyou and use code BESTOFYOU for 20% off.[00:01:18] < Music >
Alison: Hey everyone, I'm Dr. Alison, and I'm so glad you're here to discover what brings out the best of you. This podcast is all about breaking free from painful patterns, mending the past, and discovering our true selves in God. I can't wait to get started as we learn together how to become the best version of who we are, with God's help.
Hey everyone, and welcome back to this week's episode of The Best of You Podcast, where we are wrapping up this series on how to detox mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Today we're going to talk about detoxing from unhealthy relational dependencies. Often a relationship detox is thought of as detoxing from a toxic relationship after you've left the relationship, and that's a very real thing.
If you've been involved in a toxic relationship with someone who is abusive—with someone who gaslights (where someone intentionally and systematically questions your perception of reality, so you start to feel crazy), if you've been in a relationship with someone who has narcissistic tendencies, where there's guilt tripping, where there's manipulation, where there's blame shifting, where there's a lot of criticism even, or triangulation, all these things I've talked about in prior episodes, you may go through a period of time where you have to both detox from the impact of that behavior on your own psyche and simultaneously learn how to trust other people again.
Now in Chapter Eight of The Best of You, I walk you through seven relationship red flags, as well as seven signs of health and a process of learning to trust again after you've been hurt so that you can learn to trust again in a healthy way.
But today I want to address a different kind of detox. This is a detox from our own toxic messages, the toxic messages that keep us stuck in unhealthy patterns of relating to other people. Now, these might otherwise be healthy relationships—they might be with our kids, they might be with friends, they might be with a spouse—where the toxic messages we've bought into often subconsciously are creating unhealthy patterns in our relationships with other people.
So in Episode One on this podcast, I talked about narcissism. And in that episode I talked about the difference between labeling a person versus naming a pattern of behavior. And the latter one—when you start to name patterns of behavior, you gain clarity and you start to see a way forward. And so today, I want you to think about that when you are thinking about your own patterns of behavior. I want you to resist labeling yourself, which often is laden in with criticism.
“I'm such a blank. Why do I do it this way?”
“What's wrong with me? “
Instead, I want you to take inventory of your own patterns of behaviors, almost always, that are rooted in these toxic messages we've picked up.
So one way to think about these toxic messages we all have is to consider what psychologists call cognitive distortions, especially as they relate to how we show up in our relationships. Now cognitive distortions are rooted in the work of cognitive psychologist Aaron Beck, who is largely responsible for this very popular type of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy. And the idea is basically that our beliefs, what we believe, what we think influences how we act. And so in order to change our behaviors, we have to get to the root of the message or the thought or the belief that is driving those behaviors. So cognitive distortions are beliefs or messages or thoughts we have taken in about our role in the world around us, or how we're supposed to show up for other people that influence our behaviors.
They influence how we show up in our relationships, and often we don't even realize they're there, let alone how these toxic messages impact us in negative ways. So it's really important to recognize them so that we can clear out the airwaves, replace them with healthier messages, which will lead to healthier ways of showing up with other people.
I get into some of these faulty messages that many of us have picked up, especially in faith communities, in Chapter Two of The Best of You. Here are some of those examples:
You should always sacrifice for others.
You should put yourself last.
You should always die to yourself.
Ignore your emotions or emotions are bad.
You should just override those signals your body is sending you.
Just be nice, play safe.
Do what the other person wants you to do.
You can't trust yourself.
And sometimes you may have ingested some faulty messages related to your faith. For example, You shouldn't feel lonely, angry, or sad. You have God to help you through.
You should always put other people first.
You exist only to serve other people.
All of these messages swirl around our hearts, souls and minds, sometimes consciously, often subconsciously, and they impact how we show up in our relationships with other people. They hold us hostage in ways, right?
Because if we only should ever be nice, do what the other people want us to do, our emotions are bad, we should never feel bad because we have God. . . If all of these things are true, we are just trapped because we just better never feel the way we actually feel. It's a really terrible way to live, and it's not healthy for our relationships.
Where do these messages come from?
These messages come from a combination of several things. Number one, it could be your conditioning from all the way back as a child. It may be that nobody ever explicitly said these things to you, but if when you were young, the way that your family operated, you might have picked up a message that my needs don't matter. I will get attention; I will get love if I just play nice. If I put the attention on everybody else, if I mute my own voice, that's what I have to do to survive. And you pick that message up all the way from childhood that the best way to get love, the best way to get people to like me, the best way to get belonging is to just shove any needs or wants or preferences or talents or dreams that I have aside.
Number two, they are things that we tell ourselves, right? So it's not so much that others conditioned us in this way, it's just messages that we started to tell ourselves based on our often very young observations of the world around us. People will be nice to me if I never rock the boat. I can get along if I just go along with what everybody else wants. Nobody may have taught you that, but you just began to notice it. We are conditioned not only by our families of origin, but by our early friendships. Imagine yourself in middle school, right—how much social pressure there was, and you begin to learn what you've got to do to survive. It's called social survival, and we learn these things early on and we begin to tell ourselves: no one will like me if I speak out in class. And to be honest, that might have been true back in seventh grade, back in 10th grade, right?
You may have been bullied or hurt or rejected for certain things about yourself. But the question is, does that message still serve you? Maybe it did help you survive back then. Is it still helping you now?
And then number three is you may be hearing these messages in the culture around you, in your faith-based communities. I talk a lot about this in The Best of You where we hear these messages like don't trust yourself, and we take them to an extreme in faith communities. because obviously we are not God and only God is ultimately trustworthy. And also we do have to learn how to trust ourselves to some degree, because how in the world can you begin to trust another human if you don't first learn how to trust the cues that your own body is sending you about what safety is, what your legitimate needs are, about what health is, right?
So we hear some of these messages in the culture around us, in our faith communities, and we pick them up and we double down on them in unhealthy ways. So today I want you to begin to name those hidden toxic messages that either you've been taught explicitly by other people that you have started to tell yourself, or that other people or other communities around you reinforce that are no longer serving you very well. And then we're going to get into how to replace those toxic messages with healthier ones that actually serve you.
So remember a detox is when you identify something that is causing some sort of chaos, some sort of cacophony, some sort of unhealth in your heart, soul, and mind. You identify it and you remove it in order to replace it with something that is healthier for you. So we're going to walk through that as it relates to these toxic messages that lead us into unhealthy ways of relating to other people.
So what is the problem of buying into some of these toxic messages? Here are four ways that these hidden messages can contribute to unhealthy ways of relating to other people.
Number one, you bypass your own legitimate needs, wants preferences. Ideas, opinions, talents, in order to please others.
That's not healthy, and that's the root of what we call codependent behaviors. And so for example, if you have a message that parts of you have really bought into: Don't think about yourself. You just can't think about yourself. They need you. They need you. Their needs are more important. Put them first. If you are constantly telling yourself that, you are in jeopardy of bypassing legitimate needs, legitimate God-given desires that need your attention and that you need to bring into your relationships in a healthier way.
Number two, you may be at risk for blindly trusting other people. Again, this is a common theme in codependent tendencies where you don't trust yourself so deeply that you place blind trust in other people, in a spouse, in a church community, in a friend.
And maybe if you're lucky, that person is a good person and they genuinely try to get your back. But what if they're not and they start to take advantage of you and they start to exploit you. That's not a healthy place to be. Oftentimes messages that are underneath this lack of trust, confidence in your own God-given soul, heart, and mind are messages like this: They're better than me. I should be more like she is. He's smarter than I am. She knows more than me, right? It's this comparison trap where you start trusting others more than you trust your God-given self.
Number three is criticism where you become overly critical of yourself. You beat yourself up, which can lead to an overly negative view toward others, a judgmental view towards other, or even projection onto others, which is when you start to see negative qualities in others that aren't actually about them, they're more about you, right? And so criticism is almost the opposite—it still comes from that root of not trusting yourself, but often you're overcompensating by inflating your own habits, your own ways, by saying: I'm better than they are. I'm doing this better. They should be able to handle things like I do. I don't let my emotions get the best of me. What's wrong with them? They're weak. There's this sort of inflated sense of yourself that is actually toxic. Because you're not actually seeing that other person as they need to be seen, and it's rooted in a way that you’re also not seeing yourself with compassion. Typically people who are super critical, super judgmental of others are just as equally judgmental and critical of themselves.
And number four is numbing. When we numb out our genuine needs, genuine longings, genuine feelings of sadness or pain, we can start to get into these unhealthy balances in our relationships. And in fact, it can almost lead to this sort of entitlement thinking. Now, bear with me on this. It might go something like this: I do so much for others that I'm entitled to this bag of cookies, right? I do so much for everybody around me that I'm entitled to numb out in this way. It's almost this way of rationalizing our own unhealthy ways of coping because after all, we are doing so much for other people when in fact, a truer, healthier message might be:
I wonder if I need to scale back on all of that helping so that I can take better care of myself and get myself the real nourishment my heart, soul, and mind needs. Okay, so these are four ways that these unhealthy, toxic messages can contribute to some of these unhealthy relationship patterns.
They're a way we've learned to stick with the status quo. I can't disappoint anybody else. I can't inconvenience anybody else. I've got to show up perfectly. Therefore, this thing that I do over here is ok. That's how I justify it. Can't trust myself. Other people are better than me. I've got to do it the way other people are telling me to do it. I've got to trust them. So this thing that I think over here, I've just got to abandon it because I'm not as smart as other people. I can't trust myself, right? We all have to pay attention to these messages that are at the root of so many of the ways we show up with other people.
Now, listen, as humans, even the best of us, even people who have done a lot of work on themselves over many years. We all tend toward entropy. We move toward the path of least resistance, and so often the path of least resistance, it's where those neural pathways were blazed when we were children. We've learned these things deep in our heart, souls and mind. It's hard to change not only the messages, but the ways that they impact how we relate to others.
So there's no shame in this. We've come by these ways of engaging for very good reason, and we can also change. The neuroscience is amazing on this, that we can actually change these pathways in our brains. We can start to shift the ways we think, which shifts the way we show up, which shifts our relationships towards health.
I think sometimes about King David from the Bible. This is a man who loved God deeply, a man after God's own heart. He did amazing things and yet somehow over a period of time, a toxic way of thinking crept in to his heart, soul, and mind. And we see the evidence of that when he acted on that impulse to be with another man’s wife. We read that story as if what happened there was just suddenly that he did this terrible thing. I don't think that's the way the human psyche works. Likely that impulse in that moment was preceded by a slow dissent into toxic thinking that may have gone all the way back to David's childhood. Feeling less than, feeling inferior, old survival skills that he had as a boy that crept in, even as a man who's a successful leader of many people he’s still vulnerable to some of these toxic ways of thinking. And I imagine sometimes, that David may have felt some of the things we're describing here.
I work so hard, I deserve this. A little bit of entitlement might have crept in: It's not that bad. I'm a good person. I'm saving a lot of people's lives. I don't know, but I'm guessing that was something of what was at the root of what was starting to get toxic in David's heart, mind, and soul.
And suddenly he found himself engaging in a really toxic relationship pattern with not only this woman, but then her husband, and it goes on. He started lying. All these things started happening until he got called up short and had to change.
The signs of this kind of toxic thinking are likely not as obvious in your life, though they could be. But here are some cues that toxic messages are starting to take hold and negatively impact our relationships with other people.
Number one, you're exhausted and feel resentful of the very people you seek to help. This is just classic. I can't stop helping you. I can't stop meeting your needs, but I am so angry with you right now.
And so we're in this loop of, I've got to put you first. Your needs are more important than mine. I've got to trust you. You're smarter than I am, but I am just so frustrated, so aggravated, so annoyed all the time, so mad at myself, mad at you. That's a cue that there might be a toxic message.
Number two, you notice those three Cs of clamor I talked about in Episode 35. The constant comparison to others or criticism or competitiveness, any one of those three things, the comparison of She's better than me, I'll just never be as good as they are. The criticism, I just, I'm so sick of him. I can't stand that person anymore. I hate the way they do that. Just the constant negativity toward other people. Or number three, some unhealthy competitiveness where you might even measure yourself better than other people. At least I'm doing it better than they are. At least I've got this thing going on for me. Look at what they're doing.
None of those are super healthy ways of thinking or of motivating ourselves. These aren't healthy messages. They feel good in the moment to some degree, but they're not how we actually show up as the best version of ourself.
And then the third sign that you might have some toxic messages is if you notice yourself rationalizing certain behaviors. I have to tell this white lie because I can't hurt their feelings. I work so hard; I deserve this. You start to rationalize unhealthy ways of behaving. You start hitting that easy button which means you start to default toward this, please others, numb myself, please others, numb myself pattern of relating when what's really needed is to slow down. Get curious about what's going on in your heart, soul, and mind, and determining and identifying the toxic message that is driving this behavior.
So in order to change these toxic messages that are at the root of so many of our unhealthy relationship patterns, we have to get curious. We have to identify what is that message I've bought into and practice replacing it with a healthier message. So as we detox from these, It's a process.
This doesn't just happen with a magic zap of the wand. And that's what I want you to understand about this whole series. A detox is giving yourself permission to say “what if” for just one week. Every time I notice myself rationalizing, every time I notice myself comparing, every time I notice myself putting myself last, I'm going to reject that old messaging and replace it with a new “what if” message instead. Just for that week, I'm going to reject that old message and replace it with a newer “what if” healthier message instead and just see what happens. So how do you do that?
Number one, you use that name it, frame it, tame it roadmap I walked you through in Episode 36. It's in the last half of Episode 36 where I walk you through it. In this instance, number one, you're going to name the toxic message. Now, listen, there's probably multiple, there's probably many, but I want you to name the one that really resonates with your heart, soul, and mind. Listen with the eyes of your heart, right? That's what I think is at the root of a lot of this.
For example, are you telling yourself, Your emotions are bad. What is wrong with you? You should just work harder. You can never let anybody down. You cannot trust yourself. You're going to mess everything up. These might be some of the messages you name, so just name it and try to get clear about what is that message that drives you, and then you're going to frame it.
Why do you tell yourself this? What is the purpose? What is the role of this way of seeing yourself. Maybe you tell yourself this because you actually, parts of you, think it's true and therefore you need to really question that. Is this true? Is it okay to disappoint other people? The answer is yes. Yes it is.
Does working harder always yield the best result? What if there is a time to scale back to slow down? What if my emotions need my attention? So the why question is really without shame, just questioning it. Why do I think this? Is it true? Should I think this, is there another way to think about it?
And then how does it impact me? When I'm constantly telling myself that my emotions don't matter, that my needs don't matter, that I can't trust myself, I just end up feeling worse. I feel more resentful, more defeated, more helpless. How is this getting the best of you? How is it not serving you? Is it a problem in your relationship with your spouse? Is it with your kids? Is it with a particular friend or is it a broader social group? A broader community?
Get specific about how this is impacting various relationships. Are you texting or emailing or doing work without giving yourself a chance to consider your own bandwidth? Are you doing extra chores around the house because you're afraid to ask your kids to help out? Is it related to work responsibilities? I should be doing more. I've got to keep up. What are you telling yourself? Is it messages from the pulpit where you feel guilty like you should be doing more? So get specific about how this is impacting you.
And then lastly, what alternative message is available to you? This is where you begin to reframe that message. Here are some examples:
You should always sacrifice for others. You should always put yourself last, right? That message becomes, What if prioritizing my own health will help me show up in healthier ways with others? What if, just phrase it as a what if, you don't have to convince yourself out of it yet.
Number two, just ignore those emotions. They're bad. They don't mean anything. Just be happy, right? What if that message becomes, what if my emotions, even sadness, even loneliness, even anger are cues that a part of my own soul needs my care and attention?
Number three, if you're someone who's constantly telling yourself you can't let anybody down, you can never disappoint others, work harder, get the job done. What if my exhaustion is a cue that I need to pay attention to? And actually, if I begin to pay attention to the health of my body, I might even be able to produce better quality work.
What if they are disappointed? Does that mean I've done something wrong? What if it doesn't?
And then the last message, you can't trust yourself. Everyone is smarter than you. They know better than you. Just listen to what everybody else is saying. What if God has designed my heart, soul, mind, and nervous system with very important cues that help me assess this situation, and I need to pay attention to those cues in partnership with God's spirit. What if, and write it down.
And now it's time to tame it. If that, what if statement is true, what different decision might I make in this moment of this particular relationship? For example, If my physical health is an important factor, I might need to start saying no to those requests for my help.
If my emotions are actually cues, I am going to pay attention to the fact that spending time with that person always leaves me feeling terrible. Now maybe I'm not going to immediately cut that person off. But I'm going to pay attention. Go back to framing it. Why do I feel terrible in that situation? What is happening that is making me feel terrible? Is it in fact something that they're doing that isn't healthy, in which case I do need to set a boundary and maybe spend less time with this person.
If my emotions are actually cues, I need to pay attention. I need to spend some time, which means I might need to spend a little less time with them in order to spend time understanding why my emotions are feeling so triggered when I'm with this person. Another example, if I don't exist only to serve other people, but in fact if I exist to model healthy, emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical boundaries. What decision would I make differently? If my job is to model health in each of these categories, how does that shift how I show up with my family, with my kids, maybe even with a spouse?
So I want to just close this episode with some questions that you asked that will apply this to some specific situations. I loved this question Erica wrote in:
As a recovering people pleaser, and as someone walking through healing my own trauma, I struggled to figure out how much I have to give my friends and family. Until recently, I've been all too comfortable abandoning my own problems, feelings, and wellbeing. To put the attention on others who are hurting I don't want to under give or reject my friends when they need help, but I am afraid of diving in because I have over forgiven in the past, so consistently I can't see how I can be consistently present to hear their stories when I'm sorting through so much myself.
How can I contribute to others thriving while affording myself that same compassionate attention?
I love this question, right? Because it gets at the fears so many of us have when we're recovering, when we're detoxing. It's I know I've over-given, I've given too much of myself, and I've lost myself.
But that's the only way I know. And so the only thing I know is this other extreme, which is not to give anything, right? Because if I'm really going to be compassionate with myself, I'm terrified I'm going to slip back into that toxic pattern of just completely going all in with the other person and not ensuring that I'm creating space for myself.
This is normal. It's such a normal part of recovery. How do I show up in two-way relationships, right? I know how to show up for others. I'm learning how to show up for myself. How do I do both? How do I both show up for others and also ensure that I'm keeping some of my energy for myself. This is a great question. If you are going through something and if you're learning how to bring a little more of what you are experiencing into your friendships and you're learning how to honestly, sometimes not be as available to other people.
That's really hard. So the first thing you can do, especially if they're good friends, especially if trust has been established, there's safety there and you know it. It's just name it, name what's going on. We are all in this friend group.
All both of us, the three of us, the four of us, whatever it is, we're all going through a lot. I wonder if before we dive. to sharing about what we're going through. Could we talk about how to best support each other? So you just name it. You name that there's been a shift, that you're each going through something and that in order to honor the friendship and honor both people's capacity, you might need to shift how you show up with each other.
You might say something like, listen, we both got reduced capacity because we're both going through a lot. Let's make sure we're supporting each other in the right way.
So let's just trust each other enough that if I need support and I come to you and say, Hey, I'm going through this hard thing. I need to process it with you. Do you have capacity that you get free reign to say, I actually don. Have capacity today. Could we check in next week or tomorrow? And I'll do the same for you. If you're going through and you're in it, you're in a really bad place, you'll say, do you have capacity that I get a free pass to say, I actually don't today because I'm in a hard place too.
And we're going to honor each other in that way. So that's one thing you can do if really trusting good friends, you can just name it and talk about how to support each other, including. Honor each other if you each don't have the capacity. And this is a beautiful thing. I've done this in friendships myself, and when you really both take each other up on it, it's like, I actually can't right now.
Let's circle back tomorrow, or let's circle back in a couple of days. Now this gets into what I call the Rolodex approach. When you are going through a lot, you do need more than one person. You need 2, 3, 4 people to go to so that you aren't burning out. One person, one of those people might be a therapist that you have a regular meeting with.
One of those people might be a spiritual director, a pastor, someone you meet with regularly. But you can even say to your friends, listen, I am going through a lot right now, and so I've beefed up my support a little bit. I'd love to be able to ask you, Hey, do you have capacity today to listen to me?
If you say no, I want you to know it's okay. Because I. Other people to whom I can turn. And then you want to model this so that your friends also, when they're going through something that you feel safe enough to say, Hey, I can't be that person for you today. Who else do you have?
So the real key here is that you are naming something that has to shift in the friendship, and that in and of itself requires a lot of courage. It requires a lot of self-awareness. It requires vulnerability, but it's a different kind of vulnerability than what most of us are used to.
It's not the vulnerability of I'm going to spill my guts, it's the vulnerability. I want to be here for you as you go through this. And in order to do that, I'm going to have to pace myself because I'm also going through a lot. So let's talk together about how to pace that with each other. So that might be, again, just asking, it might be saying, let's plan to meet every week and let's take turns, let's put the timer on and you share for half an hour.
Then I share for half an hour and we're not going to try to fix each other. But we're just going to listen to each other. Or conversely you might agree because we are both in it, the best way that we can love each other is to actually not be each other's go-to person. We'll each rely on our therapists.
We'll each rely on other groups. And what we really need from each other is play and. And just fun or going to movies or laughing together, right? This is about learning to ask for what you need and not expecting or assuming that other people know. It's really hard, even in safe relationships.
Even in relationships where trust has been built to name something to say, man, you are going through. I am going through a lot. What's the best way we can support each other for the long haul? Because the last thing we want to do is burn each other out and get frustrated with each other. How can we honor ourselves?
Now, it can be hard to have these conversations, but when you are able to have this kind of conversation with a friend, you actually end up building a deeper trust and a better foundation for the friendship to survive the long haul. Because this happens in friendships. We go through seasons where we need different things from our friends, and so being able to talk about that actually allows you to keep the friendship intact.
Okay, the last question for today's episode is from Jesse, and I love this question. I think about this a lot and I get asked this a lot. Jesse wrote,
I have been thinking a lot about spiritual bypassing, and I'm getting confused about how to know when it's comfort and okay to accept some of the comforting things about Jesus versus when you are using it as numbing and spiritual bypassing. I was hoping for some clarification on this. Thanks for all you do and starting the Google Forms idea. I think it is so cool.
Thank you Jesse, and thanks for writing in. Thanks to all of you who wrote in.
Spiritual bypassing, I talk about it in Chapter two and many chapters of The Best of You, but it's when we give ourselves these positive, feel-good platitudes, or sometimes other people give them to us instead of really dealing with the pain that's underneath. So it's a great question because certainly what you're alluding to is we can turn to spiritual platitudes as a form of false comfort instead of actually going to God with what's hurting us or what's really bothering us, and so it can become a form of numbing in a way, and that's a really tricky needle to thread. I should probably do a whole episode on that, and I probably will because it's such a great question. But just for now, what I want to say is this, listen. We all need comfort and God is a comfort to us. In John 14, the Holy Spirit, another name for the spirit that Jesus promised is comforter is counselor. Jesus does bring us comfort amidst our pain, the peace that passes all understanding that Paul speaks about. But here's the thing, when we experience that, it's not because we're in denial about what's hard. We know.
We're like, This is what I'm going through. And somehow in the midst of what I'm experiencing, I have a sense of God's kindness. I have a sense of God's peace. I have a sense that I'm not alone. I have a sense of the goodness of God, even though I can't really see how it's playing out in my life yet. That's what we mean by spiritual fruit, which is the opposite of spiritual bypassing. Spiritual fruit, is recognizing the fruit of God's spirit from Galatians 5 22, the love, the joy, the peace, the kindness, the patience, the gentleness with ourselves and from God. Even as we are simultaneously aware of what's hard. And so this is what I would leave you with today. As you consider detoxing from any of these toxic messages, you might tell yourself that lead to unhealthy dependencies on others or even unhealthy spiritual dependencies, which I do touch on in Chapter 10 of The Best of You.
If you want to go deeper on that topic for now, and that is two things can be true:
I am terrified that I'm going to disappoint someone and I can no longer betray my own health. Something has to change.
I am hurting, and this is hard, and I know God loves me and God has nothing but good for me.
Those two things can both be true.
I am terrified that I cannot trust myself to both show up for other people and stay present to my own needs, and I am going to be patient with myself and kind to myself as I take small, brave steps to learn how.[00:36:02] < Outro >
Alison: Thank you for joining me for this episode of The Best of You. Be sure to check out the show notes for any resources and links mentioned in the show. You can find those on my website at dralisoncook.com. That's Alison with one L- cook.com.
Before you forget, I hope you'll follow the show now so that you don't miss an episode. And I'd love it if you go ahead and leave a review, it helps so much to get the word out. I look forward to seeing you back here next Thursday. And remember, as you become the best of who you are, you honor God, you heal others, and you stay true to your God-given self.
Tammie Snyder says
This was such a good podcast and I’ll need to come back and listen to it a few times and share as well. Thank you for your biblical wisdom!
Hello, I have SO much to say that I really don’t know where to start. Your podcasts have really helped me to define some things in my life, especially this episode. It started with episode 3 on “Self Love.” I’ve always known I didn’t think very highly of myself but after that episode, I realized its depth. Self-loathing really sums it up. The first time I can remember feeling bad about myself was in the 2nd grade when my cursive wasn’t as good as Nikki Roberts. I really just thought it was all me until I had my first 2 children. All this anger and impatience and intolerance and disciplining with guilt started coming out of me and felt oddly familiar. I asked myself what it was and I realized, “I’m acting like my mother.” All this revelation was coming at the same time I was raising my kids. It was so overwhelming and torturous, how I didn’t end up in a mental hospital or on medication, I don’t know. Paul’s description of wanting to act one way but doing another fits perfectly!! I dove into the Word and let me tell you, I have come SO far!! The Holy Spirit has revealed SO much about me to me but there is still something I need that I can’t find. I’ve gone to 2 therapists that weren’t good fits. I’m 53 so I have several decades of thinking the wrong way. It literally feels like it’s a part of my DNA. I SO want to get better!!! Some days are better than others. Some days I have to fight SO hard for every positive thought I have. It’s exhausting.