Voices that block love – Part III (Negative Reinforcement)

Negative Reinforcement

Dr. Jim explains how words can drastically impact someone’s life and how our thinking can change our world view and block us from finding our desired love. Here’s how to prevent the external voices from influencing our inner voice and how to reject negative reinforcement.


Voices that block love – Part III

In part one: Voices that block love – Part I, I described how the words of others can negatively block us from the love and joy we desire in our lives. In part two: Voices that block love – Part II, I shared how the words we utter can drastically impact our lives. In this article I would like to share how the words we THINK (negative reinforcement) can block  us from the love we are seeking.

There is a very old story about a father who had twin boys. As the story goes, one of the boys was an optimist and the other a pessimist. Their birthday was coming up and the father wanted to teach the boys a lesson. On their birthday, he filled a room with manure. The father took the son who was a pessimist and told him that he had a gift for him in the room. This son was only in the room for a few seconds when he came storming out and with disgust told his father that he had played a bad trick on him. All that he found in that room was manure – and lots of it.

The father brought the optimistic son to the room and shared the same information about a ‘birthday gift.’ This son went into the room and the father soon heard noises. He waited 10 minutes, 20 minutes – but could not wait any longer. He opened the door and found the optimistic son shoveling manure for all he was worth. The father stopped the son and asked what he was doing. The boy replied – ‘Father, with this much manure, there has to be a pony in here somewhere.’

I have found that there is some of our approach to life that is ours from birth, but most of it is ‘learned’ thinking.

The third voice that blocks us from finding the love we desire is the inner voice (negative reinforcement) that we hear. For too many this voice is a very negative voice and hinders our ability to view life and confront it in a healthy manner.

This is even more prevalent in single adults. What may have begun as a voice from someone else has turned into an internal voice that causes the person to think poorly of themselves and put themselves down continually.

“Most of it is ‘learned’ thinking”

The words that may demonstrate this are ones like:

  • I can’t
  • If they only knew the real me – or – when they found out what I am really like they will never accept me.
  • I am not worth anything
  • No one wants me
  • I am not good enough
  • I am not pretty/handsome enough

Words like these defeat us before we ever get to the starting line. I am not saying that positive thinking can overcome every handicap. I am saying that too often a negative self-worth blocks us from finding the joy and love we are seeking.

How does one turn around this type of negative reinforcement? I have the picture of an ocean liner in mind as I think about this. The point is that it took a good while to arrive at this stage of thinking and it will take a process and some time to turn it around.

“Negative self-worth blocks us from finding the joy and love we are seeking”

Here are some suggestion for how to begin to change such negative reinforcement:

1. You must find a healthy and positive point of reference. If you compare yourself to your problems and past experiences, you will not have a healthy perspective to enable wise choices.

2. Begin at the beginning. Build a foundation upon which you can construct healthy thinking. I suggest that this begins totally with God. He created you, did not make a mistake and certainly does not look upon you as junk. In fact, He thought you were worth the price of His son. He loves you so much that He has adopted you as His very own child. You ARE the child of a King!

3. Ask your Father (God) to work in your life by revealing those things to you that can help you move toward where you and God want you to be.

4. Check out who your friends are. Are you spending time with those who feed your poor self-image? Do they sit around with you or over the phone and speak word upon word condemning everyone and everything? If they do, point this out to them and see if they will commit with you to begin to mold your world into a more healthy perspective. Yes, there is so much negative in this world. However, if you focus on this alone – you will become just like it.

5. If your friend(s) does not want to change, find new ones. Change your environment so that you are around healthy people and in healthy conditions.

6. If this does not begin to change your thinking, then find a Christian counsellor and ask for their guidance in building a healthy self-esteem.

7. Seek the advice and counsel of your pastor or someone on the church staff.

8. Look on such sites as Focus on the Family and other known Christian ministry sites to find books, tapes, etc. that move you in the right direction.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that you do not have to live your life imprisoned in negative reinforcement. It does require a commitment and action on your part. Let me cheer you on toward this goal. There is so much joy and freedom that awaits you. Do not let your internal, negative voice block you from love!

Dr. Jim
Author of “Guide to Successful Online Christian Dating”

Romans 8:16-17 ‘The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.’

1John 3:1 ‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’

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