The following post is more subjective than I normally write (only using 7 Scriptures), coming more from the counseling side as a professional, while a Christian; then from a Biblical teaching frame.
What harm is there in this statement -”Everyone did what was right in their own eyes”? Are there any similarities in today’s world with this statement?
On a personal level:
- There are the emotional implications,
- There are problematic reasoning consequences, and most importantly
- There are the spiritual ramifications
On a social level:
Everything becomes that much more exponentially exhaustive as each person affects another, which affects another, which affects yet another.
The Emotive and Cognitive Implications
As a counselor, as well as a Christian; I have never ran across an individual that is “comfortable” with being wrong, or even admitting so. Human beings by their very nature must feel justified in their behavior and in their thinking.
Even whenever humans commit obvious criminal behaviors, they must have a justification of why it was done for the right reason. And these rationalizations become patterns of thinking which are entrenched, and very difficult for people to break.
It is this inability to be comfortable with being wrong (many times unknown even to ourselves), that drives just about everything that we as humans do. This form of “rightness” may be seen in a number of different ways; such as by being good parents, good businessmen, good cops, or just good human beings – it is an innate drive.
We can confess we “were” wrong a while ago, but only because we are “now” right. “A few minutes ago I was wrong, but now I’ve got it right.” Yes, they may confess to the crime, and while they may have got caught, and know what they did was wrong and feel remorse (really contrition – many times its the penalty of the consequences that drive a lot of their displayed remorse, not the guilt or shame of it), rather stated or merely thought, they have a reason for their behavior.
In my practice, I am aware that it is a positive sign, when people gain the ability to ADMIT they are wrong, and become more ”comfortable” in taking ownership in it. And not just intellectualizing the idea that sometimes I may be wrong (and commit false humility in doing s0), and disconnect from those feeling by using a false mental self-statement; but by coming to an understanding that I am wrong and must do something about it – if not today, then soon (it is better to be honest about our sin, even if we refuse to correct in the present, than to down play the law, lowering its power by defending wrong actions and belittling the rules – those that God “SET IN STONE“); this is not to say it is ok to keep on sinning, just that we shoul never attempt to change the law, or say our wrong is really is right.
This is why whenever we are witnessing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to someone, they must first understand they are sinners, in need of saving before anything else can transpire. We all must come to grips first with the sin nature, and the fact that we are all dead in our trespasses and sin, and unable to save ourselves. We are guilty, end of statement. It is at this very healthy point, and only here; that saving faith is a possibility.
It is this denial that is the first sin that we must deal with in order to address what falls afterwards. Because, it is the sin that hides all the rest the other sins.
In the field of counseling there is a thing called “Thinking Errors.” These are habitual patterns of rationalization that we all as human beings use in order to make our wrongs sound right. The drug addict and criminal use them; but so do the judge, the counselor, and the minister. It’s only to what degree, and how serious the violations, and the frequency, that make the difference.
There are different lists of these “Thinking Errors,” anywhere from 20 to 70 different types, depending on which list you refer too. And known or unknown to ourselves we all exhibit one or more of these patterns of rationality, the excuses that we call reasons for doing what we do. It’s sort of like driving an automobile, national statistics advise that once every 30 seconds a motorist violates the law at least once. It seems to be our nature to sin, but also to have a reason for doing so.
That’s why when you get pulled over for violating a traffic law, and the police officer ask you why, most of the time he’ll write you a ticket if you answer that question with an excuse or reason, no matter how good it sounds to you. Because what you stated, and what he would imply by giving you a warning, is that there would be a reason that would justify violating the law.
Usually the only time you’ll get a warning is when you say that you made a mistake, and it was unintentional, at least if the officer is any good at what he does. Because the worst thing you can do as a law-enforcement officer is to say or imply that some laws are worth keeping, and others are not, or that the officer can arbitrarily choose which laws to enforce, because at this point he stops being a representative of the law, and start becoming a law unto himself.
The point is simple, how can man come to the place of even knowing what is right, in order to perform it, when our sin nature is so diabolical, that it hides itself, from itself.
Because, the main presupposition that is behind the thought of “doing what is right in your own eyes”, is the belief that you can determine what is correct to begin with.1 Because without this presupposition, that a person’s perception is inerrant, you cannot make a determination of right or wrong to even start with. And if you can come to the conclusion that your perception is always correct, who needs a Bible or a God to correctly interpret or evaluate life, because the man himself is his own best ruler to judge all things.
(SIDENOTE: I also believe that this drive: “to be right” is something that God placed within man to keep him from destroying itself. When you really think about it, if man could be comfortable with being wrong, without the necessity of a rationality for sinful behavior, how much worse with this world be. If man could kill women and children without a thought of moral correctness, or the mandate to rationalize such behavior; we would’ve killed ourselves off thousands of years ago as a specie. No, it is for mankind’s protection that there is within him this innate necessity to do or be right – this also reflects the image is in of God concerning righteousness. That as man is made to see To righteousness and justice; though this drive is contaminated by sin, the drive is still alive within us all.)
By way of contrast, when a man is convoluted into believing that his own perception is perfect, then what chance is there for him to reevaluate and make any corrections – none. We don’t fix what’s not broken. Therefore, he never changes, he never grows, learns from his mistakes, or behaves himself as a better human being.
In this case, the only thing that grows is selfishness, and man’s ability to hide it. Selfishness is seen in every false religion, along with every humanitarian and philanthropic pursuit ever conceived.2
Because if I give away everything I own, feed the poor, return love for hate, do nothing but good all the days of my life, it’s still based upon selfishness, because it was done to either gain the esteem of others, or to make myself feel good about myself. Anything done outside of God’s Will is sin, because it is done without God.
“There has never been a positive behavior ever witnessed by man that does not profit the person that does it, rather its how others perceive him, or how they perceive themselves, the motive is always to achieve something positive concerning self,” There is no such thing as a completely pure motive, not within a fallen man.
The foremost problem that I see in “every man doing what is right in his own eyes” is there must be a rejection of God, because the person becomes their own God. And the title, “god”, by its very definition (and in spite of polytheism, which becomes rationally problematic in addressing this question), invokes the idea of one that has power over another (as seen in its usage in the Old Testament, and even Jesus ~ John 10:34-35 / Psa. 82:6 in reference to earthly judges). Therefore, doing what’s right in one’s own eyes is making oneself “god,” and antithetical to Christianity. So spiritually speaking, you can’t be a Christian and live by this epic.
To be a Christian means to be a follower of Christ. Jesus Christ displayed submission to God’s Will3, and what God knew to be right in every detail of His human life. Jesus was void of selfishness, because He was void of sin. And when we see Him at the most crucial point of His human existence, having the power to avoid the most terrifying thing that He could ever experience, that of being separated from God the Father, His response was: “not my will but thine be done,” the polar opposite to the fallen man’s response to discomfort, pain, and in Christ case total trepidation.
Yes, Jesus knew that the Father would resurrect Him, but don’t allow this to take from the fact of what He went through something that you and I could never understand in all of our eternal existence, that of being separated from God the Father, as only the Son could understand it.
We have no capacity whatsoever to be able to understand the depth of pain that He went through for us by being separated from God the Father. There is no sympathy, there is no empathy4, and to say or imply otherwise is condescending, and irreverent (In fact it displays a heretical mindset).
Therefore, for a Christian to make the statement that he “would do what right in his own eyes” is an anathema to Christianity, and proves he is not a true believer in Jesus Christ.
Second question – Are There Any Similarities in Today’s World with This Statement?
I would say the similarities are uncanny. In fact, this credo probably better defines the mindset in the 21st century, than it did back then.
These views might seem to be cynical concerning humanity. First and foremost, they are biblical views. And secondly, it’s an emotionally healthy point of view, in that, within this point of view, there are no great expectations when it comes to how humans behave. You’ve heard it say that one of the greatest causes of depression is unmet expectations, there is no doubt that broken expectations cause a lot of pain and turmoil.
Therefore, expecting less of out people, will always reduce stress. And there are those times that we will be filled with joy when we see people move out of their comfort zones, and set aside their natural selfishness and put someone else first. The definition of God’s type of love for us to mimic is His “sacrificial putting of someone else first”, and it is a beautiful thing to behold. However, we are also told to be “wise as serpent gentle as doves”.5
During the 21st century, and especially here in America (with it starting to impregnate the whole world), there are certain presuppositions that display this utter selfishness. They have become vanguards - using mantras of success.
And as Christians, it should not be hard to understand why they are unbiblical (therefore, I will not take the time to run through the Scriptures concerning them).6
These expressions are:
- “If It Feels Good, Do It” *
- “Anything That Feels this Good, Can’t Be Bad” *
- “More Is Better Than Less”
- “Bigger Is Better Than Smaller”
- “Newer Is Better Than Older”
- “Winning Is The Only Thing That Matters”
- “Win At Any Cost”
- “I Want It, Now” (Based Upon Instant Gratification)
- “Sometimes You Have To Do The Wrong Thing, To Get Justice”
- “It’s Okay To Do The Wrong Thing If You Do It For The Right Reason”
- “The Most Important Thing Is The Greater Good”
- “The Ends Justify The Means”
These rationalities are but a few examples of what man can come up with when he lives by the philosophy of “doing what is right in his own eyes.”
The Body of Christ
What is unfortunate is that the church has become the new breeding ground for indoctrination into these presuppositions.* Where are seeker friendly environments, with messages which are centered around people, and addressing their problems, rather than teaching about God. Self-help is becoming the buzzword of many churches, where Mega-church ministers don’t preach about hell, and sin, and subjects which are uncomfortable to the congregation.7 And believers are doing what is right in there own eyes.
The church is becoming impotent due to the pollution of selfishness that is overtaking it. The masses have never got it right, but on a daily basis, we are to live out an understanding that it is God, and God’s Word alone that is our directive for living life. And that it is Jesus, and Jesus alone that should be the center of our services, as well as our daily walk.
We are moving closer and closer to the dictates of man, rather than the direction of the Spirit in our assemblies.
When the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) uses the word “heart”, it is never means solely the emotions. It is the whole inward of the man, including 1) man’s reason (mind), and his 2) emotions, and his 3) will; which encapsulates the word “heart.” Man is never to walk according to his emotions, but according to the intellect (the mind – the Mind of Christ, better stated) that God has man in the understanding God’s Word.
Unfortunately, the devil is using our own emotions to drive us to fellowships that make us feel good, yet don’t feed us the Word of God. And believers are doing what is right in there own eyes.
And many believers are confusing their sensual experience of feelings, with the expression of God’s Holy Spirit. They speak about walking into a church service and feeling God’s Spirit, which displays their lack of understanding of God’s Word, in light of Jesus teaching concerning the Holy Spirit (as also seen in the Elijah experience)8 The Holy Spirit is not anything that can be felt, and when we mix up our emotions with what we think is Spirituality, and we pay less attention to the preaching of God’s Word, that is when we stop truly worshiping God by a sanctified life unto Him.
It is easy to focus on the world and follow the pursuits of our own ambitions, and therefore heed the advice of their own corrupt hearts. Yet, it is God that has always held His people responsible for adhering and listening to His Word, and follow His direction, and doing what He says is right – and not what is right in our own eyes.
- Proverbs 12:15 – “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”
- Romans 3:10-12 – “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
- John 5:30 – “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
- When we feel sympathy for someone we feel sorry for their pain, not having felt that particular pain ourselves. However, when we feel empathy for someone’s pain, we can empathize with them because we too have been through a similar situation as well.Sympathy is “imagining someone’s pain” and empathy is “feeling someone’s pain.” In both cases, you are relating to someone else, but the words are not actual synonyms! Sympathy is a much more common feeling because we are not as likely to have experienced the same difficult situation as someone else. For instance, I have never gone through chemotherapy, sent a loved one to war, etc., but I definitely feel sympathy for those who have. That’s why “sympathy cards” exist and not “empathy cards”.
- Matthew 10:16 – “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
- Anyone that wishes any further insight into this area, or proof text please e-mail me.
- Rick Warren, just to name one; teaches at Pastoral conferences and seminars, that sermons should not deal with the subjects, such as hell, damnation, suffering, dying to self, sacrifice, and stay with other native subjects from the Bible, because uncomfortable subjects will drive away potential parishioners.
- John 3:8 – “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” I Kings 19:11-13 – “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
- John 16:13 – “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
Concluionary Statement Concerning Psychology
Whenever I speak utilizing what may be considered psychological tools (such as: “Thinking Errors“) or approaches – I always need to make the following statement.
As a licensed and certified counselor who specializes in substance abuse, as it is related to interpersonal relationships, dual diagnosis, personality and mood disorders; who has been classically trained in many different psychological modalities; I find none of them correct in themselves to deal with the problem of the soul and spirit of man.
Having studied almost every psychological modality, I can unequivocally state that everyone is a man centered pursuit, and therefore doomed to ultimate failure as it not only neglects God; but in almost every case is antithetical to God. There is an old proverb used by a parent to a child which states: “show me your friends, and I will show you your destiny.” The point is, though it is our own actions which we are held accountable for, it is observationally true that there is a definite connection between those that we associate with and our own character, or lack of it. Those that feel the necessity to be identified in the field of psychology display a presupposition, a vulnerability to be accepted within those ranks, and as such; display a lack of preeminence of God in their lives.
This may be a display of spiritual blindness for those that are believers, or at the least call themselves so; or simply a bad choice (when an believer spends years in college studying psychology, they are highly invested; it is this investment that corrupts their discretion concerning God in His Word – life always comes down to choices). Christ said it well (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13), “no man can serve two masters...” And for those that believe that man-made psychology has the answers to life; by necessity cannot believe that the Bible has the sole answer to the human condition. I’ve met many professed believers who have convinced themselves that psychology is neutral; neither good, nor evil. This choice to be blind towards psychologies antithetical nature concerning that which is biblical - does not invalidate the condemnation that they will receive for such beliefs.
There are those of us that attempt to play the role of Daniel, that of working within a corrupt system in order to fulfill God’s Will, without being corrupted ourselves. However, this can only be done when one acknowledges that the system is corrupt to begin with, because it is opposed to God. It was Daniel and his three friends who stated that the dietary requirements of the King were wrong (because it violated God’s direction from His Word), and that God’s Word was superior. They were braving, even breaching the subject that the current system could be incorrect, but they stood their ground for God; which is witnessed when ever they were persecuted at later points for refusing idol worship, and violating God’s Word.
And for those that attempt to mix psychology and the Bible, all you have to do is listen to their teachings in order to understand that they follow Roger’s presupposition of being “Client Centered” (which every popular modality incorporates), as opposed to being “God centered,” wherein they violate the Bible and biblical teachings at every juncture. It has, and will always be the analogy of ”oil and water,” and as these individuals become more and more enamored in psychology, they harden their heart against God in the process; by hardening their heart against His Word.
Having spent hundreds of hours, mandated by my licensure; as well as certification, to study many different forms of therapeutic approaches, along with their underlying tools; I can wholeheartedly say that they are man centered, man created, and unbiblical; even those calling themselves Christian psychology, and or Christian counseling. I have always maintained a 4.0 grade average, while always on the Dean’s list. Yet, to do so I have learned what to do, concerning test and assignments – I answer their questions according to what they have taught both in the classroom and text, not giving them my belief concerning their statements, but answering their statements according to their own presuppositions and understandings.
Yet, in the classroom or otherwise, I never compromised my belief system; sharing with all that I disagreed with the psychological approaches, yet displaying that I understood what they had taught, though I disagreed with it. Those professors that adamantly disagreed with me were always held captive by the premise that higher education is to provide information that the student is to fully and completely understand, yet when it comes to his own practice he is to utilize what he chooses to be the most efficient and effective forms of counseling. They essentially made it so I could never be penalized for my antithetical views to their own presuppositions.
This is not to say that certain observations and tools used within psychology are not effective, and efficient – they are, worldly speaking (in achieving humanistic ungodly goals – which in the end contaminate the soul). Yet, if the observations are correct, it is not because they come out of psychology, but because psychology has observed human nature, and attempted to take credit for what was part of the development and workings of interpersonal relationships. Let me give you an example.
Psychology gains its credibility based upon its observations (which are to be separated from their tools / treatment and conclusions), yet this does not mean that it is successful, but that it simply appears to be correct wholly based upon its observations, as compared to the end goal of helping an individual deal with problems. The first problem in this statement is that who defines what the problem is, and how to deal with it, and what is the correct answer.
Psychology is man based and therefore man makes all these determinations. Yet, one of these determinations is that the concept of God is a sign of emotional or cognitive sickness. (However, the believer must seek all these answers in God’s Word according to God’s Will, which is always antithetical to man’s will and presuppositions, though man was created in God’s image; after his creation, through the act of willful disobedience and not trusting God in faith, man became a fallen creature that is corrupted through and through. As they say, you cannot use a sick mind to cure a sick mind.)
It is these observations that give psychology the credibility with the masses, who are biblically illiterate as a whole.
Let me give you an example concerning its observations.
Anyone could observe a dog. How they eat, how they sleep, how they bark, how they interact with other dogs and other animals; their ability to think through complicated situations, and what they need to survive both human world and animal kingdom. Anyone that has spent any amount of time documenting and studying their behavior would in time be able to predict certain conclusions based upon patterns.
This is where psychology has gained its credibility, such individuals as Kevin Leland, who came up with the observation of personality traits according to birth order, who merely studied humanity until patterns emerged – anyone could do it. Time after time certain observations made in psychology gain credit merely because patterns are identified and understood concerning conclusions.
This is where the credibility of psychology comes in, wherein the patients listening to the practitioner is amazed; yet, these observations have been present for all of humanity, studied in what was formerly referred to as philosophy (Greek: for the “love of knowledge”), which has always dealt with the makeup of man and his relationship to his Creator and environment. Yet, psychology (Greek: for the “study of the soul”), which is still in the infancy of it’s development (less than 200 years old), merely utilizes tools of previous philosophers and scholars concerning the observation of man and his behaviors in order to come to conclusions.
Yet the problem is, utilizing the allegory of the dog, is that by those observations one could make predictions of behavior; yet these predictions would never explain the origin of the dog, the true inner makeup of the dog, the dog’s future, nor evaluate the correctness of its behavior.
The first problem is psychology begins with the premise that man is an animal, and for those Christians that try to mix psychology and Christianity do so while corrupting the presuppositions that are innate to all forms of psychology (there are over 250 modalities, types of psychology), by defying foundational presuppositions, and the Bible as well.
One such example is the common denominator within a majority of those psychological modalities which are currently popular, is what is referred to as “client centered” (man centered) in their approach. However, the Christian must be God centered in his belief system. Man centered psychology believes that all the problems that man may have are answered from within them (each person has their correctness inside), and that the counselor strives to help them find those answers within themselves, only as facilitators; yet always guiding the client towards ungodly presuppositions, claiming that their services are benign; wherein reality they have eternal consequences.
The field of psychology has always begun with certain presuppositions; rather stated, hided, or even known by some of its current practitioners. There are many types of psychology; consequently, there are many different groupings of these presuppositions. A random listing might consist of: Determinism, Experimentalism, Reductionism, Naturalism, and Relativism. Others might also add Materialism, Evolution, Empiricism, Humanism, and even Occultism.
Therefore, it is only according to the guiding principle and foundation of the Bible that anything in psychology can be loosely handled – such as, what is referred to the observation of “Thinking Errors,” which are simply patterns of excuse making and rationality, in order that a person can rationalize negative behavior which we as Christians call sin.
These observations may be correct – and as such dealing with them on their own basis is as far as one should go; going any further concerning the simple observations, that of utilizing psychological remedies or treatment, do so by violating Biblical principles in the pursuit.
Recognizing these observations, these patterns; can become beneficial only in pointing out these deficiencies, which biblically speaking are acts of sin; to the individual so as to confront their sense of denial.
It is in confronting denial that these tools hold any validity, yet from this point it is the Bible and only the Bible that has the answers. The Bible is full of Scriptures which speak about the confrontation of denial, especially noted whenever you find the phrase “… did what was right in his own eyes.”
The Following is a short Essay on “Thinking Errors”:
The following was used with a inmate population – a written handout – and is meant to serve as an example only.
Inborn to all humans is the desire to think we are right. The thief will always rationalize his larceny, the liar his fabrication, and the adulterer his indiscretion. As the forgoing illustrates, we even devise new words that sound less offensive and attempt to soften our wrong doings. Even if our pride compels us to admit we are wrong because we are caught red handed, and we supposedly assume responsibility for our actions, internally we still justify why our wrong actions were really legitimate. Some examples of those internal justifications are, “well that’s just the way I am,” or “everybody knows I have a bad temper, it just gets the best of me,” or “that was what I was taught,” “everyone has a bad day every so often,” or even, “well my heart was in the right place.” However, these excuses are just that, excuses; and with repeated use seem to affect their consciousness out of existence.
A person can rationalize many bad behaviors with their mind but their feelings are not convinced, in spite of the fact that they drown their emotions and refuse to listen to their guilt or shame. After repeatedly refusing to listen to their emotions (Guilt, shame, remorse, conviction, values, principles, or beliefs), their conscious becomes hard, rigid, scarred and non-pliable. They misuse and abuse their conscious to the point that they can not live with themselves if they allow themselves to own up to the wrong that they repeatedly do and plan to keep doing. To do otherwise, they would be incongruent, inconsistent, and fake with a double standard in the way they live their lives. The rationale they use to live with themselves is called denial.
Denial is the defense mechanism that we use to protect something that is wrong. It is the way we excuse negative behavior and wrong thinking. It will either, present a reason that our wrong actions or thinking was really right or divert attention from the real issue at hand, which is, we are wrong. When humans find themselves in a difficult place of trying to hide or excuse wrong behavior, denial is the prefect tool with many forms that empower it.
With use, denial becomes automatic and we are not even aware of it or how it has tainted our thinking. Some have given denial an acronym that spells out denial. Don’t Even kNow I Am Lying. Denial not only hinds and protects our bad behavior, but it hinds itself. It is the worst wrong of all wrongs, because it’s job is to hind all other wrongs covertly. Denial goes beyond being just a tool, to become a technique and a life style. The reason for this is because of the habituation that becomes apart of our defensive rationale, which in turn corrupts our thinking process.
Denial assumes many faces, which when habitually practiced becomes ways of thinking, they are called, “Thinking Errors.”
It has been wisely said that negative thought processes can perpetuate problematic behavior and result in the generation of negative consequences rather than assisting in our problem solving and the creation of alternative solutions to our daily dilemmas. Some common thinking errors are:
Anger Is usually a secondary emotion that hides or is a reaction to a primary emotion: fear, jealousy, or envy. It can also be a mental reaction to: rejection, resentment, greed, self-centeredness or other negative thoughts or events.
Assuming Thinking I know what others need, want, expect, or think, without asking them if I am correct. Usually leads to anger.
- Catastrophizing Assuming the worsthas or is going to happen.
- Generalizing Making assumptions about people based on limited Information.
Blaming Making others somehow responsible for my behavior. Usually used in conjunction with Victim Stance.
Closed Channel A strong, single focus of thought that wipes out other options for action. I do not hear or see the things that might change my mind.
- Cut off & Corrosion A strong, single focus of thought that sets itself up as the only choice to a pending decision. We find reasons to do what we wanted to do all along by discrediting all other options. This is a legalistic rationalization designed to have only one answer to a question, ours.
Excuse Making The habit of finding reasons why we did not do something we should have done or said we would do.
Euphoric Recall Thinking of only the past “good old days,” without remembering the bad that followed. We don’t focus on the outcome of negative behavior and consequently don’t deal with or thinking about possible negative consequences that occurred, and can occur again.
Isolation The belief that it is irresponsible or wrong to ask for help or support. We think that people are either in control or are controlled by others and we try to manipulate rather than ask for what we need.
Justifying The habit of finding reasons for what we do. Why our behavior is logical and correct.
Lack of time perspective The desire for Instant Gratification. An unreal expectation of how long something should take in light of our desire to have it prematurely.
Lying A habitual behavior for some, lying is used as a defense to confuse, distort or take the focus away from the liar’s behavior.
- Commission Making up things that aren’t true.
- Omission Leaving things out…only speaking part of the truth.
- Assent Pretending to agree to stop an argument or something incomputable or to look good.
Minimizing Trying to make negative actions, events or behavior appear small and trivial.
Power Thrust Using loud or aggressive behavior or emotional manipulation to get our way. Often there is a threat of violence of some type.
Perfectionism Expecting everything to be done our way or else it is wrong. Generally our expectations are extremely high.
Rationalization Any and every attempt to say what I am doing is ok, because….
Shifting Focus Directing attention away from our behavior or ourselves, onto a different person or situation.
Suggestibility Going along with someone else’s idea when we know it might not be right. We do this to look good or be liked; it also gives us someone else to blame if it goes bad.
Super-Optimism Refusing to entertain the possibility of any negative outcome to our ideas, plans, or actions. Other people get caught in or suffer the consequences… not us.
Uniqueness Feeling that we are different from everyone else. We are special, entitled to whatever we want or rationalize we deserve. We don’t deserve the same negative consequences as others do.
Victim Stance We believe that bad things always happen to us and that we are always the victims, we always lose. Our behavior seems to beg for the help of others, but we find reasons that the help that is offered will not work. Because we are the victim we are not responsible for what happens and we always avoid the responsibility for anything.
Zero State A state of mind where all options for positive change are unavailable. We are helpless, hopeless and can see nothing that can save us.
Thinking errors concretionize (go from something fluid, flexible, and deliberate; to something rigid, petrified, and automatic) with use, and so corrupt our thinking process, that our belief system is polluted. We become what we think. If we lie all the time, we must rationalize it, and therefore we keep lying about being a liar (because, a liar is one who practices lying) to ourselves as well as everyone else.
Therefore, since it took practice to become a liar, it takes practice to un-become a liar. The same is true about thinking errors. As it took habituation for thinking errors to become embedded in our lives, it will take the habituation of stopping the thinking errors, for us to start to think more healthily (honest and true). Consequently, the first step is to identify thinking errors. The list above is for this purpose, to help you find and acknowledge thinking errors in your life. The following tool should help accomplish this in a effective, user-friendly, and thorough manner.
Correcting a Thinking Process so as to Change a Belief System
RIP is an acronym that stands for Realize-Identify-Practice. RIP is used to aid in burying your old (untruthful and therefore, self-defeating) thinking errors, which corrupt your belief system (worldview), and help in creating a new (truthful and therefore, self-affirming) belief system.
Realize. It has been said that realizing something is wrong is 50% of solving the problem, at this point, you see there is a problem; it is at this painful point that you choice to have eyes to see.
Identify. From here, you must recognize how the problem is manifesting itself, what particular way is it showing itself, what exactly are you doing? At this point you must focus your eyes so as to identify the precise thinking (or behavior), so you can correct it from happening again.
Practice. Finally, you must choice to prepare for not doing it again by practicing in your mind what is wrong, and what is right and committing to it:
1. Telling yourself it was wrong thinking; because you can see what it was denial.
2. Identifying the exact type of denial.
3. Exposing to yourself what it was and that you choice to not let it continue.
4. Concretionize (make real and solid) your commitment to correct this thinking error by putting it to paper, and thereby examining and dissecting it, piece by piece. This is the stage of change, where you tell yourself that you will not continue in this thinking error because you can see it is a lie (use a Think Error sheet to dissect and understand your denial).
5. At this point, you must confess to someone that you have been lying to yourself and others; you told a lie now tell the truth. Back yourself into a corner, by confessing you are choosing not to continue to use this lie to rationalize your behavior.
Change is not easy, especially in your thinking, but it is possible. How many times have you changed your mind about something, hopefully a lot, otherwise you must be perfect, and it is this kind of thinking that must be changed the most, pride. We must humble ourselves enough to allow ourselves to become people of change. For it is people who are constantly changing for the better that are becoming better people. If you want to keep on living in denial, being the only one who really believes the lies you keep telling others and yourself, looking like a fool to the world, not growing as a person, being self-centered, serving only your own purposes, staying a child; then go ahead, there are prisons, jails, halfway houses, hospitals, mental wards, and homeless shelters, that you can spend the rest of your life (all of these places are good and necessary, but they are only meant to be temporary, not permanent) in.
This is not to say you won’t or can’t be rich and live in a palace, and have all the things money can buy, and maybe you won’t be alone, but you will be miserable, because things don’t buy true joy. You may have happiness. Happiness is due to good things that happen (which is the root of the word “happiness”) to us, but it is temporary at best and always fleeting. What makes life full, and brings contentment (the feeling of satisfaction)is joy. Joy is an inward feeling, a peace based upon how we feel about our God and ourselves, and the relationship between the two (which explains why a true believer can lack joy when he is out of fellowship with God, even though he is still a believer, and destined for heaven. We can rob ourselves of joy by disobeying and not trusting God in faith). Joy is expressed outwardly by peace, and you don’t get it by being self-centered and always thinking you are right, and in always demanding to have your own way. You don’t get it by acting like there is no God, except yourself (little god), and expecting your will to be done on earth. You will never achieve the peace of joy, if you continue to keep lying to others, to prove how you are right, or that your wrong is not wrong.
You cannot achieve the true peace of joy in your life as long as you keep lying to yourself – and don’t be fooled, you must lie to yourself first before you lie to others.
If all that you do is use this handout to address “Thinking Errors,” and never go on the conclusion which is most important in life, concerning who God is and who you are, and that He is worthy of your trust and faith; you will have a better life on this earth, but it is the eternity to come you will face the greatest regret ever conceived (this is wholly inadequate – hell is beyond our own conception). Think about it….