Pressure Cooker

We put a lot of pressure on things we get our value from. Too much, in most cases. I used to do this with friends, particularly my female friends. From most of the women I’ve been close friends with, I’ve sought something more at one time or another. I got rejected nearly every time, often resulting in my feeling hurt and, depending on her reactions to my hints toward that end, sometimes angry. I was getting so much of my sense of self-worth from being single that every time a door was slammed in my face, I felt not just that door shut, but all of the previous ones shut again and felt there would never be an open door in my future.

It’s really no wonder, looking back, why my approach didn’t work. I was putting so much pressure on my friends to do something for me that they never could: make me secure in my value. Even if I had gotten a girlfriend, I wouldn’t have felt valuable. I would have been clingy and controlling out of fear that she would realize how worthless I was and dump me. She could never have done enough to prove to me that she really loved me and always would, neither could she convince me that I was worth being with. Because of that, I would have always pressured her to show me again, and that kind of pressure will always lead to a meltdown of some sort.

It could have been a blowup that ended the relationship, a steady decline into a state of dislike and resent, fighting constantly, her being frustrated that her efforts are never enough, or me just sinking into a depression and her fretting because she has no idea how to bring me out of it. But something bad would certainly have happened because self-esteem is essentially a black hole demanding always to be fed. You will always need your worth affirmed from time to time, and if your source isn’t constant, you will put pressure on it to give you that affirmation because you’re afraid of losing your value. If it doesn’t, something breaks.

This started in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve thought God was holding out on them. They questioned their God and their worth at the same time. If they didn’t depend on God any longer for their worth, then it was up to them to find it and they looked for it in the forbidden fruit.

Whatever you find your value in outside of God is going to be something that you put too much pressure on.

The bright side is that this makes it easy to determine where you’re getting your value from currently. Think about things in your life that you berate yourself for or that get you upset with others easily. Think about what causes you the most stress and frustration. Go deep, too. The easy answer may be the surface answer.

For example, I would get frustrated with myself at my last job for doing anything wrong. The surface answer is that I was afraid of not getting a promotion or raise when the time came, as well as that I hated messing things up for other people. The deeper reason is that I hated looking stupid and feared that any error would cause someone to look on me as an idiot who didn’t deserve to be there. The frustration with being wrong at work was just a symptom of my deeper issue.

After you’ve decided to change, the next step is to find out where you’re currently getting your sense of self-worth. Once you find that, you can be more aware of these situations and remind yourself that your value doesn’t come from them. God alone is an always open fountain of affirmation, the only one who will never tire of telling you what you’re worth, and the only one whose opinion matters. And His opinion of you is so much higher than the worth you’ve been trying to prove you have.

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