www.HealMyLife.com, (416) 234-1850, © George Hartwell M.Sc., commercial rights reserved, 2006.
Our real identity is a gift of God. We are each unique. Our identity is based in our own personal human spirit - that part of us which is the breath of God and part of God made in the image of God. We become lost to who we really are when we become People Pleasers.
Our real identity - the real child of God within us - yearns to be expressed and experienced.
Depressed? Of course we become depressed and experience depression when we lose our real self, our real identity. Our failure to be real, to be natural, to express significant facets of our identity is a major sacrifice. (See People Pleasing - a sacrifice for love).
Here is a secret about depression. Whenever a strong calling or gifting is suppressed we become depressed. (Agnes Sanford experienced and wrote about that.) Hold in the writer, singer, artist, preach and you are not fulfilled.
Our real identity includes some of the characteristics of a child - spontaneity, ease of emotional expression (tears, anger, happiness, love), playfulness, creativity, passion and intuition.
When we are real we are in touch with our needs and able to express them without hiding them. We are able to ask for what we need.
Our real identity includes a sense of self - of boundaries separating me from 'not me.' I am able to distinguish between what is mine and what is yours.
But we have experiences that begin to block the free expression of our heart and spirit. We make choices and set up ways that hide the real self. We remember some bad experiences and the bad feelings we had. We come to believe that it will be better if we do not express our real identity.
We are made for love. "It is not good that the man should be alone," said God. As a child and as an adult our heart yearns for a companion - one to break bread with, to be able to be open about ourselves with the other, to be comforted when there is loss or pain, to share our joys, to play together.
The child's deepest fears occur when unconditional family belonging is threatened, when love becomes conditional on not being real, when one is avoided or shunned, when parents threaten to leave us or abandon us.
A child is very vulnerable and dependent on adult care for physical survival. Beyond that our happiness and emotional health depends on steady family love - on dependable bonds to mother and father.
So often a child sacrifices real identity to buy love. But love is not for sale. Love cannot be forced. Something goes very wrong when we start to believe that by acting in certain ways we can guarantee love and avoid rejection.
Love demanded and love earned does not feel like love. Love must be free.
What a dangerous web we weave when first we begin to deceive. We hide our real identity. We put up a false front - a pseudo-identity. Our real self doesn't feel loved and our false self, our image of being good, doesn't bring us love. We are in trouble.
A life pattern of hiding one's real identity begins with these early decisions to sacrifice being real for being loved. Some cultures and some families demand it. We comply. The short term gains seem to justify the sacrifice.
This dysfunctional pattern, John and Paul Sandford call it Performance Orientation, is maintained by two sets of beliefs. These unconscious belief patterns play off one another and can put one into a vicious downward spiral.
On the one hand, the behaviour of pleasing, being good, avoiding offense, being perfect and achieving is maintained by beliefs such as: "If I perform I will be loved," and "If I fail to perform I will be rejected." So the striving of the false self is driven by the hope: "If I work hard enough; If I am perfect; if I get top grades; if I achieve my goals then I will be loved."
On the other hand, perhaps even more out of our awareness, there are disquieting beliefs like: "There is something wrong with me;" "Nobody will love me;" "I am unlovable."
In time we come to realize that it is not true. It doesn't work! One does not feel loved or lovable by performing, pleasing others, achieving, and being perfect.
But we cannot easily stop for it is painful to give up. When we quit performing we come face to face with the second set of beliefs: "There is something wrong with me;" "Nobody will love me;" "I am unlovable." These toxic beliefs will push us down into depression. It seems that I can't win; that there is no hope for me. Is there no way out!
So I might continue to keep up the struggle to earn love by my performance but there are times when I break out of my depressed state into an angry rebellion - drunken sprees, drugs, gambling, overeating, spending or having an affair. So I am up and down: sometimes depressed (while performing), at other times angry (when rebelling).
If one manages to keep on performing and holding down all outer expression of anger and rebellion then the inner anger and rebellion may be expressed in subtle and indirect ways. For example, anger at God can be expressed in unhealthy forms of spiritual warfare such as 'binding' principalities and powers or other practices that divert attention to the devil.
The most tragic outcome is to never pull out of Performance Orientation. It is a great loss when our real identity is lost. How sad! Then the performance becomes our identity. There is no way out of this maze, and no way to feel loved.
Someday, the whole pattern may fall apart. God may allow it. We collapse. Nothing works right. We are confused, especially about our identity. We feel we are having a 'nervous breakdown.'
This may be a positive thing. It may be that the old pattern is dying, that a new pattern can emerge. This may be "Positive Disintegration."
It sure helps to have a counsellor who understands the process, who can explain it to you. A good shepherd is needed at times like this to get us through this valley of the shadow of death.
Thankfully, God does answer prayers to break this pattern. Recognize it. Confess it. Ask God to liberate you. He will. He did it for me. I will describe five specific ways that Listening Prayer Therapy can be an effective part of this process.
Even when the pattern is broken, recovery of one's real identity takes time. A counsellor who does not impose his or her views, who leaves you room to grow and encourages you in this process, is good.
Recovery feels good. It feels good to think more clearly, to make decisions more decisively, and to experience life fully: to grieve, to enjoy, to laugh and to cry. With time one becomes more creative, can experience love and know that one is loved.
Those who use Listening Prayer Therapy for inner healing need to be flexible and creative. People are different and their situations differ therefore one needs options.
For this reason Listening Prayer Therapy inner healing uses a variety of tools to accomplish healing/deliverance rather than one set method.
It is also for this reason that it is important for you to learn by experiential learning - learning by doing. This will give you confidence and intuition.
I use simple clear terms and focus on basic principles. Principles allow you room to think and chose different means to gain healing/deliverance.
Fro example, here are 4 different approaches to the healing of the issues in "Real Identity - Freedom from the People Pleasing Trap."
This first Prayer Encounter involves a personal intimate conversation with Jesus in a safe private place. If teaching or discussion has brought to the surface the fears and the beliefs behind one's flight from real identity, then this Listening Prayer can be helpful. Steps include:
a)A prayer of intent such as: "Jesus, I want to be free from people pleasing."
b)Agree on what are the fears and the beliefs behind the people pleasing.
c)Picture the safe place to meet with Jesus and meet him there.
d)Tell Jesus the fears and the beliefs that you need healed - confession.
e)Be still and open to receive from Jesus. Notice what Jesus does and how you feel. Jesus may say nothing yet comfort you with His presence. You feel this. Jesus may tell you something. Note this, meditate on it; let it soak in; note how it feels.
f)OPTIONS: In some cases it may be helpful at this point to pose a direct question such as: "Do you forgive me?" "Do you love me?"
g)EXTENSION: Clarify in you mind the new way of being, seeing, thinking, acting and feeling - your new identity - and picture yourself being like this tomorrow, and the next day. When the picture of this is clear note how it feels.
h)RECEIVING: Give thanks to Jesus for what He has done.
2.In the opening chapter of the gospel of John it is said: "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John 1:5. In a dark room light instantly dispels darkness. In inner healing/deliverance Jesus dispels darkness.
When deliverance from darkness is necessary it is helpful to make use of the image of light overcoming darkness. I will suggest the picture of a room in a house. The house represents your life. The room holds the darkness that needs to be cleaned up. Jesus is invited in. You ask Jesus to clean up the room of darkness and put on the lights.
In Real Identity it would be done like this:
a)A prayer declaration that you want Jesus to overcome the fears and any darkness associated with the pattern of people pleasing in your life.
b)Picture your life as a house and Jesus is waiting graciously to be invited in. Jesus uses this picture in his revelation to John: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and him with me." Rev. 3:20.
c)Ask Jesus if he would clean out the room - representing a part of your life - where there are fears associated with being real and standing up for yourself. Fears of people rather than God. People pleasing. Competing. Striving. Trying to be perfect in order to be love.
d)See what Jesus does. Don't try to do it yourself. Let him. Just watch and see what Jesus does and what Jesus says. See Habakkuk 2:1.
e)Make note (or report to the Listening Prayer therapist) what happened.
f)Make note of how you feel. Describe carefully how you feel and what you sense has happened. If you sense that you are different, describe the new you.
g)Picture this new you - new identity - in some different situations in your life. Notice how you are different and how that feels.
h)Give thanks for what God has done.
3.You know of the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. How would you like Jesus to cleanse you inner temple and making it a place dedicated only to God?
Inside you, in your spirit, there is a place of holy worship - your inner worship centre. Everything you worship is there - the good, the bad and the ugly. God is there but so is any other who acts as God in your life.
Do you look to another for security, identity, direction, protection and provision? You may be looking at your idols. These others are lodged in your inner temple.
Is it time for a cleansing of the inner temple? Invite Jesus to do this. He will do it. He will knock over, blast out, and kick out your favorite idols if you ask him.
It is hard to be real and live out of your real identity in Christ when you are people pleasing. You can't be who you were created to be if people, not God, tell you whom you should be. People are not a secure base for your real identity. Only God is.
Real identity is based on real worship. Only when we are focused on the one true God and worship Him alone, only then do we discover who we are. We are only free when we worship Yahweh - the God who is free.
Time for freedom. "Set My people free to worship me," says Yahweh to Pharaoh.
In Real Identity "Cleansing the Inner Temple" would go like this:
a)Tell Jesus that you want Him to cleanse your inner temple.
b)In your imagination, picture your inner temple. There could be a place for God like a throne at one end of a long sanctuary. Along the way are various idols in your life. Here are the people or groups that you try to please in order to be loved.
c)It would be helpful to confess and ask for forgiveness for your idolatry: "Jesus I have sinned by looking to people rather than God for my identity and to know that I am loved. I have tried to earn love by what I do and not being my real self. Can you forgive me? Do you love me?" Listen. "This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him." Luke 9:35.
d)Invite Jesus in to kick out the idols and see what he does.
e)See how you feel when he is done. Give him thanks.
f)Get a sense of your new identity. Picture this new identity in your life.
The Father's Garden
4.Perfect love casts out fear. The Father's Garden is a sage place to go as a child and play. God's presence is everywhere is the flowers, the beauty, the songs of the birds, the small safe animals, the trickling water, the high arching trees, the soft grass, the blue sky and the warm gently breeze. Children are safe here.
Jesus said "Let the children come unto me." Let the child in you enjoy the Father's garden. This is the kindergarten or children's garden. Picture you as a child going into this lovely garden and sensing God's love everywhere.
You are safe to play here. To be free. To be spontaneous. To be yourself.
So play, explore, enjoy and relax.
Find a place to be still and drink in the wonder of this place. Let yourself be filled with the peace. Let your soul be restored by the beauty. Enjoy.
Listen to your spirit. What is the meaning of this place to you? What does it say to you? What do you experience inside?
Imagine yourself expressing with your body what you are feeling.
Do you feel free - free to be yourself? How would you express that?
Do you sense God's unconditional love - healing the child within you with His love? How do you respond to that?
5.In Listening prayer God may lead us to healing or deliverance in a memory. With God's help we know what we have believed, felt and the choices we made in a particular event or period of our life.
In dealing with people pleasing it might go like this:
a)Ask God to bring to bring to recall a memory related to people pleasing. A memory that can lead you to needed healing. Usually this is a memory in the first 10 years of life. Don't think too hard, let God bring this to your memory.
b)Ask Him to shed light on this memory so that you can see what is significant.
c)Describe how you feel.
d)Ask Him to bring to mind what you believed to be true at that time.
e)Let Him show you if you set up a pattern of behaving or made a vow at that time.
f)Invite Jesus into the memory:
1.To find out what is true and deal with your wrong beliefs ask Him what is true.
2.Confess the sin behind and vows or behaviours and ask him to put those to death and show you his Way.
3.If strong feelings linger ask Jesus to deal with them, to come in as the Life and drive out any spirit not of God.
g)If you feel like a new person then describe your new attitude; new identity.
h)Picture yourself with that new identity in different situations in your life.
i)Give thanks for what God has done.
j)You can ask for another memory that is related to people pleasing and repeat the process.
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