How Arguing With Myself Changed My Life
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
If you ever want to receive a passionate, unsolicited personal sermon from me, just come to me and let me know how you “can’t” do something. I’ll try very hard to control myself, but in the most loving way, I might go off on you. Pray for me... Hi! My name is Shelby and I’m a can’t-aholic. Don’t worry though, I’m in recovery.
Have you ever experienced the power of overcoming something? I sure hope you have! The feeling is indescribable! The freedom is exhilarating. When you’re able to overthrow something that once held you down, you begin to wonder what other possibilities lie ahead! It’s extremely empowering and a fire begins to burn inside that you almost can’t control. Suddenly you want to share with everyone what feels like a monumental revelation from on high.
They say the first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem. If you know me, you know I’m a HUGE advocate for mentorship and accountability. The reason it’s so crucial to have someone like this in your life is because we cannot possibly see ourselves in our entirety. Each one of us have blind spots and we need an outside perspective of ourselves to literally be able to see clearly. Because it’s often the things we can’t see that hold us back the most. In 2018, I realized I was still sitting on some ambitions and ideas without making any moves to step forward. When I was confronted with the “why,” I had to do some analyzing. What I discovered was a voice somewhere on the inside of me that was feeding me a whole bunch of reasons I couldn’t do the things I desired to do. “You can’t—you’re too busy.” “You can’t—it won’t be impactful.” “You can’t—you don’t have the resources.” “You can’t—you don’t have the team.” “You can’t—people will judge.” “You can’t—just because.” But I remembered Philippians 4:13 which tells me I can do all things through Christ and I realized something didn’t add up. What I didn’t know was this was the start of an intervention.
God must’ve been sick and tired of me missing out on so much of the life He had planned for me, so He determined it was time. It was time to make a move and not spend another year maintaining but instead, birthing! This is what the intervention looked like: For an entire year, every time I wanted to do something but didn’t do it, I got in an argument with myself. I became that toddler with the unwavering, “why?” I would make myself answer the question and articulate why I could not, would not or had not. Shutting down and getting frustrated would not cut it! Then every time I’d give the reason, I’d challenged myself again, “but why?” For an entire year, I did this until I got to the root of all my “can’ts”. I discovered a theme and that theme was fear. If every addiction is formed through avoidance and escape, then my "can'ts” would keep me from having to face my fears.
I came to realize all my limitations were perceived, and that perception was rooted in fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of insignificance. Fear of imperfection. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of pain. Fear of loss. Fear of judgement. Fear of failure. Fear of wasted time. So. Much. Fear. A whole spirit of fear. So, I had to make a decision. Was I going to believe that voice inside (whoever it was) or believe God? And if 2 Timothy 1:7 says God didn’t give me a spirit of fear, but power, love and a sound mind, I had to get real. When I realized this voice had been stringing me along my life’s path thus far, I got mad! And it was time to fight!!
Now that the voice was exposed, I argued with it daily until God’s truth became louder than it’s narrative. Every time I was about to say “no” to something, I asked “why” over and over until I got to the core and then judged the core against His Word. In one year, my life and my mind drastically changed.
And just like any breakthrough I’ve experienced, I desperately want others to experience it as well. I want to look people in the eyes and tell them they’ll win if they stop quitting and then stand right beside them while they fight. But the truth is you can’t help someone who isn’t ready to be helped and you can’t want it for people more than they want it for themselves. In 2019, I wonder if you’ve discovered something about yourself that’s holding you back. More importantly, I wonder if you’ve chosen to change it. I felt a little crazy in the process. It felt so rigid and consuming, but it didn’t last forever. God’s Word won. I changed in an area I hadn’t even known needed to be changed. So, what is that thing? I bet you’ve said it out of your mouth already this year. What are you doing to use God’s Word as the Sword to fight the lies that you can’t do something, be something, create something or produce something? Don’t sit in shame, failure and frustration. I don’t want you to wallow in the awareness of your weaknesses and believe they define you. You can do that thing you’ve been dreaming about! You can finish your degree! You can start that business! You can write that book! You can launch that website! You can, you can, you can!! Not because I believe in you and not because you don’t, but because God says!! Stop waiting for a feeling. Stop waiting for motivation. Truth is truth. Walk in it and stomp on anything that doesn’t agree!!
I was afraid.
Afraid I’d be imperfect.
Afraid shame would heap because of it.
Afraid I’d give “them” one more reason to point a finger and discover I’m flawed.
Afraid of too many things to list.
So, I waited.
“Thought about it.”
But my only thoughts were doubts and my strategy was avoidance and my dreams were fantasies.
I didn’t know I was afraid.
Just thought I was busy.
Too busy to step into what could be because of having to maintain what is.
I discovered this-- if you think you can’t do a thing but keep asking “why,” you’ll expose the voice.
The voice you think is yours.
You may call it your subconscious.
It’s that silent narrator who tells the story of your life’s moments during and after they’ve happened.
It rarely gets called out when declaring untruths yet drives every “yes” and “no” you move toward.
That voice derived from your family of origin—the cards you were dealt, no matter the hand.
That voice that sounds a little like dad, a little like ex, a little like teacher and a lot like the boss of you.
The opinions and perspectives which shaped you.
Not always wrong.
Not always right.
But always there.
The one that convinces you your truth is absolute.
When I finally heard it, what was once a whisper became so loud it was deafening.
It was like an enemy was trying to kill me softly.
In the dark of my room.
In the quiet of my mind.
In the busy of my day.
In the safety of my dreams.
But the light was turned on.
The volume was turned up.
The voice was exposed, and I decided to scream back.
For every “You can’t,” I shouted, “I can!”
For every “What if,” I shouted, “So what!”
For every “You’ll never,” I shouted, “Watch me!”
For every “You won’t,” I shouted, “Just did!”
I shouted and shouted.
But I didn’t just shout, I moved.
I moved until my intentionality became more instinctive than my inclination.
Until that voice lost boss status.
Until the words I heard loud and clear didn’t come from a jumble of my life, but straight from my Lover.
Look who’s in charge now!
I’m not perfect.
If we’re scoring on percentages, I’m at a 53% on some of my goals.
A big, fat F!
But I haven’t failed.
At least I started.
Another year over and I’m glad to say I’m not where I began.
And the greatest success of all?
Learning that coming in first place isn’t the definition of success.
Learning that my value isn’t found in meeting some standard I made up.
Learning that I CAN do all things!!
And you can too.