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Being Comfortable in Our Own Skin

July 20, 2015

What does it mean to feel comfortable in our own skin? One of the realities of the human condition is that none of us typically feels totally righteous or acceptable enough. Fill in the blanks and you will understand what I mean: I am not __________________________ enough. Everyone has a different answer, depending upon his or her previous experiences with rejection and fitting in. For example, some may not feel pretty enough, skinny enough, tall enough, smart enough, good enough, or perfect enough.
Consequently, there is a great deal of justifying that goes on in our lives. Whether that comes in the form of a self-righteous attitude or our many attempts to accomplish a certain level of whatever it is we deem to be acceptable (degrees, positions, a certain income, title, level of fame…), it doesn’t really matter. The fact is that much energy and money is spent by individuals in an attempt to reach that level of inner peace so they can finally be comfortable within their own skin. But the cost for all of that tends to lead to an untimely death or miserable life. You see, we human beings suffer a great deal of stress, turmoil, and pain as a result of our many efforts to “be enough.”
  • Consider that endless search for love in all the wrong places and the divorces and break ups that result. They leave the children perplexed about what love really is and confused about who they are because their parentage is so undefined (i.e., step parents, unknown parents, absent parents…).
  • Keep in mind how many people search for significance in their titles or positions and the sort of stress that brings into their lives and families as they dedicate most of their extra energy, time, and attention to prove to the boss that they should be promoted.
  • Take into account the debt people get into buying things or obtaining degrees that will make them feel like they are “enough” (e.g., school loans, mortgages that take two incomes to maintain, new automobiles, clothing, beauty services and products, plastic surgery…).
  • What about the addiction, excessive weight gain, or bulimia that comes from comforting oneself from the stress that this pursuit creates and the pain that not “being enough” makes one feel?

Eventually all the self-abuse, neglect, stress and imbalance add up, becoming too much for the body to handle and it begins to wear down, producing disease in the process. Diseases such as;

  • Preventable lifestyle diseases:
    • Type 2 Diabetes
    • High Blood Pressure
    • Heart Disease
  • Mental imbalances and psychological disorders:
    • Depression from the repressed anger at the whole situation;
    • Anxiety that this inability to reach a place of peace brings;
    • Obsessive Compulsive Disorders in an effort to maintain some sense of control;
    • Self-rejection, self-hatred, and bitterness.
  • Inflammation in the body which is a precursor to major other diseases.
    • Cancer;
    • Autoimmune disorders;
    • Arthritis.
Then there are great many social ills caused by all of this. I have already mentioned divorce and the confusion brought to children born in the midst of this relationship hopping. But what about crime?
I imagine that much of what “criminals” get trapped in comes as a consequence of their desire to aspire to a certain level of acceptability can lead them down the wrong path. For example:
  • Many end up choosing the wrong method to attain acceptance; resorting to stealing, extortion, embezzlement, and murder to get money or to maintain their reputations.
  • It is not uncommon for young men raised in poor neighborhoods to choose the wrong person to impress (a gang member).
  • As a result of their inability to succeed in that department, they may end up giving up on trying to fit in.
  • This may cause such pain, frustration, and anger that they resort to hurting others either in a momentary outburst of rage or by choice through some diabolical scheme.

As already mentioned, trying to succeed can cause a great deal of stress. Likewise, when one fails to succeed, it can also cause much emotional pain and anger. But few people realize that obtaining success does not always give one the guarantee they hoped for. It doesn’t typically provide them with the deep sense of abiding peace they had hoped for. Again, these stressors often lead many to try and comfort their emotional pain with substances or behaviors that eventually cause addiction.

Wounds created by our need to reach a certain level of comfort in our own skin often lead to much more painful encounters for us in the future whenever we are faced with rejection, betrayal, abuse, or failure. These wounds often bring on a sense of self-hatred, self-rejection, and low self-esteem. Without forgiveness, these, in turn, can create bitterness within our hearts. Bitterness leads to hard hearts made cold and less loving. Some people respond to all of this pain by creating more distance between them and others by building a wall around their hearts. These are generally the types that will put on a mask of pride or a false-self to elevate their low sense of self-esteem. Others types tend to lack any boundaries whatsoever and turn into people-pleasers. Often these are the types that marry abusive people and/or become doormats and servants to others at their own expense.

Until a person’s heart is healed from such wounds he/she can’t reach a level of personal maturity which allows him/her to find intimacy with another person let alone an acceptable level of unity within society. Not until that individual has the sense of self-esteem that allows him/her to be vulnerable with another person without fearing, for example, the outcome of rejection.

You see, to experience rejection might mean a person is “less than” or “not enough.” Consequently, to avoid experiencing that horrible feeling, most of his/her relationships will be spent protecting his/her ego. Besides wearing false masks and protecting one’s heart with a wall, much of that process will include blame shifting. Blame shifting keeps people from being intimate with others because they can never hear what the heart of the other person is saying. Even if they aren’t under fire and put on the defense, they are constantly listening to conversations from others with an ear towards how they are being perceived. Therefore, they often misunderstand things and take offense with others.
What is the solution?
We cannot transform into mature human beings until the matters of the heart are adequately dealt with. So one of the steps in that process must include healing the heart. But healing the heart cannot happen unless several other things also occur. For example,
  • Because human beings were designed to get their sense of worth from others whom they desire a relationship with, they must understand why that is.
  • Since we can never please everyone all of the time, some people try to detach their worth from what others think of them. But the thing is, that is nearly an impossible task. One’s heart would have to be continually kept numb in order to do that.
  • So, we must learn to get along with others by walking according to universal rules of respect.

We must walk honorably with people. That means we must learn to keeps boundaries while establishing and maintaining a system of justice. Most importantly, we need to understand what love and grace are all about. Where does one begin to learn something like that? Everyone has a different definition of those things. Well, since God, Himself, is Love incarnate (in other words, He doesn’t just love others, He IS Love) that is an appropriate place to start. God is also holy and just. Whether you believe in God or not, the idea of pure love and holiness is something worth attaining. So, if you choose to follow God for those reasons, alone, you are going to be transformed into a more mature, intimate, and loving human being that is able to get along with others. Even if you haven’t reached that place of faith, you can call that your idea of Heaven. A place where you are not only healthier and happier, but because you made yourself into a better person by crawling out of your narcissistic tendencies and selfish or self-righteous attitude, you will be able to contribute something of worth and value to your family and society as a result.

Most Christian values are shared by the majority of religions in the world. But there is one thing that makes Christianity unique among others; the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Consequently, it is the only religion in the world that matches up with what the science tells us creates healthy people, psychologically speaking.

Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished something that sets souls free from any bondage to fear. The grace and mercy that His Blood bought for us gives each of us a totally clean slate to start out with each new day. We get to trade report cards with Him. We get His A’s while He took our F’s and nailed them to the cross.

This may seem a bit confusing at first but our endless pursuit of becoming “enough” in order to feel comfortable in our own skin was taken care of by Jesus. We get God’s favor without ever having to earn it. This takes all of the stress and anxiety off of our souls. For one, it gives us a pass directly into the presence of our perfect Father, God, without any fear of rejection or punishment. As the apostle, John (I John 4:18) said, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

Psychologically speaking, we need a perfect father from whom to obtain our identity. But none of us has one. Our parents may have tried hard, but in the end, they really didn’t have enough time for us, did they? And very few really understood what was required to raise a truly healthy human being. Consequently, we went around thinking some very strange and imbalanced thoughts about ourselves, assuming many lies about the world, ourselves, and others in the process.  So, besides running to and fro trying to find that magic formula to help us feel good in our own skin, we spend our whole lives obsessed with our parents, in most cases either hating them or never fully feeling as if we are able to please them. Therefore, a relationship with a perfect father that is holy and doesn’t just love us, but is love itself, goes a long way to healing our hearts and teaching us several things such as how to be King’s kids and how to love others the same way He loves us.

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© Tracey Nelson, M.Ed.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by The Spotless Bride Ministries.

Please include the previous and following statements on any distributed copy:

By Tracey Nelson, M.Ed., author Accelerated Transformation , © Oct. 21, 2014 Website: The Spotless Bride Blog; (Some images, songs, & videos may not be owned by author).

**Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is meant to serve as medical advice. If you feel you are suffering from a mental illness, you need to seek the counsel of a certified mental health worker. The author is simply providing you with helpful information as a pastoral counselor with Master’s degrees in adult education and conflict negotiation and mediation.

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