NUGGETS OF GOLD a monthly Blog by David Nofziger
September 1, 2020
Our subconscious has some powerful beliefs which tell us how to behave, think, react, and feel. We all have some unhealthy self-image beliefs, which can cause us to project our thoughts and feelings upon others, even though we may have no idea what that other person is thinking or feeling. But these projections can become true for us. Psychologists call these projections and the resulting negative effects self-fulfilling prophecies. I have an excellent example of this from my teen years.
Let me tell you about my second date. This reveals the power of the subconscious perfectly. It was the spring of my junior year. I grew up in a rural setting with a number of towns within a fifteen-mile radius, each with their own schools. There was a youth center about a mile from my home which was started by several churches in the area and was quite popular. On any given weekend evening there could easily be over a hundred teens there from all of the surrounding towns.
I met a sophomore girl from a nearby town who was very friendly and quite talkative. I was attracted to girls who talked easily because I was so quiet. If I was around a quiet girl, nothing was said, and it was uncomfortable to say the least. I had a friend at the time (I know I told you that no one wanted to be my friend, but even though I felt that way, I did have some friends). Anyway, I happened to remark to him one day that I thought this particular girl that I had met at the youth center was very nice. He had a girlfriend at the time and was planning to take her to his church’s youth group spring banquet. He immediately smiled and said, “You are going to ask her to the banquet, and we are going to double date.” I said, “No.” He said it again. I said no again. He said it again. I don’t remember how many times this went on, but I finally decided that he was not going to allow me to refuse. Therefore, I thought to myself, “She’s from another town, she doesn’t know me. I’ll take a chance.”
I asked her out, and she said, “Yes.” Wow, she’s pretty and friendly and she said, “Yes.” We picked her up that evening and headed to the church which was in another town about ten miles away. She was chatting away the whole time, and that helped me to relax and simply listen (something I was good at). We got to the banquet, had a nice meal, and listened to a guest speaker. As we ate, she continued her friendly banter, and I remember thinking, “She seems to kind of like me.” It was a nice feeling but surprising as well.
Finally, the banquet was over, and we were back in the car ready to head to her home. I had a belief at that time (I have no idea where it came from, but it was there none-the-less): The guy was supposed to put his arm around the girl halfway through the date (which was when you got back into the car to head home). I did that on my first date, and now I was feeling the pressure to do it again. After a few minutes, I finally built up the courage to do what I was supposed to do, but as soon as I put my arm around her, she sat up straighter and went quiet.
Our subconscious is always telling us what to think, and in the quiet, I could clearly hear the words, “She may like me as a friend, but putting my arm around her is boyfriend/girlfriend behavior, and she doesn’t like me in that way.” It took about twenty minutes to get back to her home, but it seemed like twenty hours to me! I don’t recall either of us saying another word, and each minute the negative thoughts increased. By the time we got back to her home, the subconscious words were very clear, “She hates my guts and never wants to see me again!” I got out of the car, let her out, and then got back in, barely saying goodbye. I took a deep breath and ruminated, “How humiliating. Why did I ever say, ‘Yes?’ This was a stupid idea.” The whole next year, if I saw her at the youth center, I made sure I avoided her as I knew she did not want to talk with me.
This story cannot be concluded without telling you what happened two years later. I had just finished my freshman year at the Christian college I was attending. It had been a wonderful year, and I was growing and maturing in many different ways. I was back at the youth center one evening, and there she was. Immediately I thought, “I need to apologize to her for the way I treated her on our date. I didn’t even walk her to the door!” (You can see my thinking had changed.) It still took me a little while to work up the courage, but then she was outside standing all by herself, and I knew it was now or never.
I walked up and said, “Hi.” She smiled and began chatting away, the same friendly person I had gotten to know two years earlier. She had just graduated from high school and was telling me about her plans for college. I shared with her about my first year at college (I was coming out of my quiet shell at this time). I finally said, “I want to apologize to you for how I treated you on our date.” I went on to share some of what I had been thinking and feeling.
Her reply was quite surprising. I will share what she said in three parts as each was somewhat of a shock. “Oh yes, I remember that night well, it was my first date…” (She was attractive and friendly; I would not have guessed it was her first date.) “…When you put your arm around me, I just froze, I wasn’t sure how to respond…” (Of course, that made perfect sense, but in the two years prior, the idea that she was nervous never crossed my mind.) “…I kind of liked you and wondered why you never talked to me again, but now I understand.” For two years, I had been believing a lie, “She hates my guts and never wants to see me again.” It was far from the truth, but it became true for me. That is how our subconscious beliefs affect our perceptions. You will remember, I was surprised and pleased when I thought, “She seems to like me.” It took a great deal for me to have that thought, but it did not take much at all to have the opposite thought. My negative projections became true for me.
God can help you gradually change those negative beliefs. Start listening to those negative messages coming from deep down inside, and then gently counteract them with the word of God. He loves you more than you can ever imagine and desires for you to have a healthy view of yourself as you start to see yourself as he sees you. If you would like to take a deeper look at how God can help transform your self-image, I invite you to take a look at my book, “BRAIN WASHED, Transforming Your Self-Image Through the Amazing Love of God.” Check it out below.
Nuggets of Gold is a monthly Blog focused on Personal growth, Marriage Improvement, and Parenting Issues. Your comments can be entered below. They are always welcome and suggestions for future posts are appreciated. Thank you for allowing me to share these thoughts with you.
David Nofziger has been the director and lead counselor at Hope Alive Counseling Services in Defiance since 1989 and author of “Brain Washed, Transforming Your Self-Image through the Amazing Love of God.” He and his wife, Sue, attend Family Christian Center in Defiance where they head up the church’s mission program. Visit HopeAliveCounseling.com for more information.
BRAIN WASHED Transforming Your Self-Image Through the Amazing Love of God, by David Nofziger.
If you enjoy “Nuggets of Gold,” I would like to recommend this book to you which brings you an entire pot of gold. This pot of gold is not at the end of an imaginary rainbow, but is found in the transforming power of the love of God.
The key to fulness of life is discovering who we are in Christ. Our self-image is one of the most important factors affecting our growth and wellbeing, and we need a Christ-Centered Self-Image. In this book, you will learn how to allow the truth of God’s love to penetrate deep into your heart and transform you in such a way that you take on the “Image of Christ.”
All profits from books that are sold through the Hope Alive Counseling Website go to counseling scholarships for clients with financial needs.