What Dr. Luke has to say about the Impact of Our Thinking on Our Self Esteem and Health - Part II

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The last time we talked we met a lady named Ma Ming Jing who had her life and thoughts transformed by the person of Jesus Christ. Today we will meet another person who had the same relationship develop with Jesus Christ and as a result had her life and thoughts changed. Letís meet this person.

Li Lei was a 38-year-old lawyer who lived in one of Chinaís largest western cities. He had worked in his law firm for a number of years and had done well. He knew there were a lot of changes in Chinaís legal system. This caused him a lot of frustration as it did to a number of his younger colleagues. However, he believed things were getting better.

However, Li Lei also noticed another thing in his life. He noticed that he was getting more and more negative in his life. He was negative about the things at work, his own work and also life in general. He initially thought that he thoughts were justified however, now he was wondering if they were healthy. The reason is that he was also concerned about his ability to control his thoughts and moreover he was wondering if they were causing him to be depressed and also more tired?  He was sleeping a lot more and he wondered if all of these things were related?  What was he to do?

Li Lei asked a friend of his at work if he ever was concerned about being too overworked and he said he was and he thought they worked entirely too much at work.  His friend even said to Li Lei that he thought he was getting depressed and even developing a critical attitude towards work. Li Lei told his friend that amazingly that was his problem and concern. What were they to do? Li Leiís friend told him that though he was concerned he had been able to understand and even overcome most of the problems of fatigue, depression and critical thoughts.  However, first he went to the doctor to make sure there were no physical or other mental problems to deal with. This was important.  Li Leiís friend suggested that they immediately make an appointment to see a doctor at the hospital and they did.

The next week Li Lei went to the hospital to see the doctor. The talked with Li Lei, examined him and did some blood work. After he had finished all of this the doctor talked with Li Lei. The doctor told Lei Li that there are many causes of fatigue and depression. However, his was not related to a physical problem. He did say that he thought Li Lei was a little depressed but this was not the main problem. The main problem was how he was thinking. This amazed Li Lei as that is just what he wondered. How could the doctor be so right?

The doctor went on to say that t is easy to see how a habit of self critical or demeaning thoughts could cause a person to have a very low self-esteem.  It is also easy to see how such negative thinking could cause a person to be depressed.  We know that people suffering from depression tend to have negative thoughts about themselves, the world around them and the future.  When one is depressed, their thoughts tend to reflect a hopeless belief about future. 

The doctor went on to say that negative thinking patterns can also lead one to become very anxious or nervous.  Thoughts, which I call "what if" thoughts make the person anticipate negative things happening.  The physical response to these thoughts is nervousness or anxiousness.  This is what often happened to Li Lei that is he would have these negative thoughts and then later feel nervous and anxious about them even if he did not tell anyone about them.

So, the doctor went on to say that when a person is taught to believe negative things about themselves or about the world they will tend to have a low self-esteem and will tend to be more depressed and anxious than other people who don't have such beliefs and thoughts.  The thing to remember about these thoughts is that they are learned.  They do not necessarily reflect reality but, rather, reflect the beliefs that the person has been taught.  The nice thing about this is that anything that is learned can be unlearned.  If we examine our thought patterns we can change them.  This certainly was encouraging to Li Lei.

The doctor then asked Li Lei to consider his own self-esteem.  Consider the thought patterns that you tend to have.  Do you have a tendency to be self-critical or to be negative?  Now, think about your experiences during childhood.  If you do tend to be self critical, was it because you had someone in your life that was critical of you?  If you do tend to anticipate rejection, did you have someone during your childhood who seemed to reject you?  If this is the case, you have to ask yourself, was their criticism or their rejection appropriate?  Is it ever appropriate to criticize or reject a child in such a manner?  Would you feel that it was appropriate for you to treat your own children in exactly the same way?  Is a child ever so defective or inadequate as to deserve constant criticism or rejection? These were very good questions Li Lei thought. In fact they did mirror his life. His father tended to be quite critical of him at times and he wondered of some of his current critical attitude was related to this past of his?

The doctor continued to say to Li Lei that f you do have a tendency to be critical of yourself and you can trace this habit of self criticism to your childhood experiences, many may want to work on changing your thought patterns.  Once a person realizes that their thoughts are inappropriate and inaccurate, the next step is to monitor their thoughts and try to catch themselves whenever they may negative or self-critical statements. 

The doctor told Li Lei to do this exercise when he went home. Try to look at these negative thought patterns as a bad habit.  When you catch yourself making a self-critical comment, remind yourself that this is an example of the negative learning that you had.  The doctor told Li Lei that he might want to write down examples of critical statements and make notes of attempts that you make each day to catch yourself making the statements and correct them.  Again, the doctor said that if you recognize that your thoughts are learned and that the source of that learning was inappropriate, then you could change. This was very encouraging to Li Lei. He really wanted to change and started to think how he could do this starting even today.  The doctor told him that was the best idea that is start right now and not wait. The sooner he started the sooner he would be able to make positive changes.

The doctor went on to caution Li Lei that most people tend to base their self-esteem on their achievements or accomplishments. Also, the doctor said that they sit in judgment of the opinion of others.  They feel good about themselves when they are successful and then bad about themselves when they fail at something.  They feel good about themselves when the other people seem to feel positive about them and feel bad about themselves when others are negative for rejecting.  Most of the sources of self-esteem are quite misleading.  The reality is that everyone fails at times and everyone is rejected at times.  When we base our self-esteem on success or on the approval of others, we are doomed to be in a constant struggle in to succeed to or to please.  We're also doomed to have a low self-esteem because we cannot constantly succeed and please others. 

This last statement really challenged Li Lei. He always wanted to succeed as his father told him if he did not succeed in life he would be a failure. That is what drove Li Lei. He also knew many Chinese were talked to like this at home and at school when they were young. Though he did not like this too much he knew it was common Chinese culture.

The doctor again encouraged Li Lei to do this assignment and if he still had trouble to recontact him in several months if the problem continued. This sounded good to Li Lei.

After he left the hospital he and his friend got together to talk about the doctor and hospital visit. Li Lei asked his friend how he overcame his problem, as he seemed confident he had developed a solution. Li Leiís friend told him that he had been given the same information from the doctor and the information and exercises had helped him.  However, he told him that another decision had made a greater impact as this decision not only impacted his current thinking but also his whole life both now and forever. All of this change was for the positive and not for negative change. Li Lei was fascinated how just one decision could have such wide-ranging changes. How did this happen Li Lei asked his friend?

Li Leiís friend told him that the key was coming to know Jesus Christ as his personal savior. It was this relationship with Jesus Christ that provided the change in his life. When Jesus Christ became his personal savior he gave him new purpose and meaning in life. It was this new purpose and meaning, which led to a change in all of his life and especially to his change in thinking.

Li Lei asked how he could know this person Jesus, as he wanted a similar change. He knew both for himself and for his family he needed to make changes in his life. At this point Li Leiís friend told him that we ourselves could not make the changes. Only Jesus Christ could. All we can do is accept Jesus Christ into our lives and he will make the changes for us.

This sounded too simple and too good to be true Li Lei told his friend. His friend turned to a place in the Bible which said, Ďthe heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.   Who can understand it (Jeremiah 17.9)?í  Li Leiís friend went onto tell him that it is important to understand that the Bible tells us that all people of the world are deceitful before God and cannot be cured. This sounded very harsh Li Lei told his friend. His friend said it was harsh but true. What is the solution he asked Li Lei?

Li Leiís friend turned to another place in the Bible which said, Ďas surely as I live declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.  Turn! Turn from you evil way!  Why will you die? (Ezekiel 33.11).í  How can you turn to God and live Li Lei asked his friend?  Again his friend turned to another place, which said, Ďthe work of God is this:  to believe in the one has sent (John 6.29).í  The one he has sent is Jesus. Jesus went on to say, ĎI have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10.10).í Also in another place Jesus said, Ďfor God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believed him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3.16).í  God wants us to have eternal life and life now.

How do we obtain this new life now Li Leiís friend asked him?  Believe in Jesus as our personal savior. Again Li Leiís friend read in the Bible, This man Jesus was handed over to you by Godís set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.  But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him (Acts 2.23-24).í When Jesus died on the cross he died for our sins. Li Leiís friend showed him another place in the Bible, which said,  Ďbut God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5.8).í  Jesus died for our sins so that we would not have to be responsible for them. This showed his love for us. To have this life now and forevermore all we need to do is believe in him.

Li Leiís friend showed him another passage, which said, Ďif we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead we will be saved (Romans 10.9).í If we believe this we will have this salvation, which will give us meaning and purpose in life.

Li Leiís friend asked him to pray the following prayer after him, ĎDear Lord Jesus, I know that I have sinned against you. I also know that I do not deserve your love. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins and that after you died and were buried that three days later you rose from the dead to show your victory over sin and death. I ask you to come into my life to give me victory over sin and death and be my personal savior. I ask this in Jesusí name, Amen.í

Li Lei prayed this prayer and believed it with all of his heart. He gained a new life in Jesus Christ, which gave him purpose and meaning in life he had not had before. It was this new purpose and meaning which also gave him a new peace in his life and also over time better control over his thoughts.

You too can have this new purpose and meaning in Jesus Christ it you will ask him into your life and believe as Li Lei did.