I’ve always been a bit averse to the idea of self-affirmation.
Looking at yourself in the mirror and saying things like:
- “I’m beautiful”
- “I deserve this job”
- “I’m GOING to win this race”
To me, it has always seemed arrogant; a way to promote a spirit of belief in our own strength that doesn't need to be accentuated any more than it already is.
In my eyes, these actions were tied very closely to the pride that goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). I don’t want to find my peace in how worthy (or beautiful or strong or intelligent) I am on my own. Apart from Jesus’ blood and righteousness, I cannot stand.
If you’re telling yourself something for the sole purpose of feeling better about the person you are (and possibly lying to yourself in the process), you are doing yourself a disservice.
Now that doesn't mean that you should be demeaning yourself or crushing your own spirit either. There’s a little phrase that speaks well to this.
Don’t think less of yourself. Think of yourself less.
While it is true that our human nature is evil and sinful, there is no benefit to battering ourselves with that inherent heaviness, especially since the truth and redemption of the Gospel have the final say in our lives.
God’s Word tells us in many places to essentially think more actively about other things and other people than we do about ourselves. It speaks to putting others' needs above our own, but it doesn't neglect the fact that we are loved by God and precious in His sight (1 John 3:1).
As I’ve spent some time considering the idea of self-affirmation, I found myself returning to the Scriptures, which is where one ought to turn to find the heart of God when it comes to any subject.
I came across a verse that has quickly become one of my favorites.
“Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.”
- Psalm 116:7
That’s an example of biblical self-affirmation.
Here’s what I mean.
The author is commanding his own soul to believe something, in much the same way as many speak to themselves the baseless words and phrases I mentioned earlier.
But the words clearly stem from an understanding of what God has done, not what man has done.
It does not say “Return, O my soul, to your rest, for I have worked harder than anyone else this quarter”.
The author tells himself to be peaceful because God has been so good to him.
You can do the same. This verse, and so many others in the Bible, hold just as much truth for you as they did for the one who wrote them.
God has dealt bountifully with you, so tell your soul to be at rest.
This is when self-affirmation is valuable: when it is a truthful depiction of your current state, and when it is backed by a promise from God.
Here’s an example. Instead of:
- “I deserve this job”
- “I am a hard worker, who understands that my goal is to bring glory to God in all that I do, not just please a boss (Colossians 3:23). Regardless of if I get this job that I really want, that doesn’t affect my purpose or that God will use it for good in my life (Romans 8:28)
Throughout this life, with all that happens, speaking the truth to yourself is a valuable practice. It helps us to dwell on what God has done for us, what He’s currently doing, and what He will do.