What's your favorite meal? No, not the one you immediately respond with when someone asks you that question. What's that one dish you could eat every day and never get tired of it? That delicious arrangement of ingredients that you're willing to pay any amount of money to eat because you can taste it down in your soul it's so good! Yes! That's the one!
Now imagine you could never eat it again. Never. You can't find it anywhere else. You can't recreate it because the ingredients needed to make it are gone. No other restaurants will make it for you.
What do you do? You do what any normal human being does. YOU LOSE YOUR MIND!!! You complain to anyone who will listen! You get on Yelp and give one star reviews to every restaurant in the city because they refuse to make your dish! You demand that all your closest friends burn their kitchens down in solidarity! You kick and scream until you get the most delectable food this earth has ever known back on your taste palette!
That image might have sounded extreme, but it's actually the image of what happens when you starve your inner villain.
One of my ministry mentors likes to say, Whatever you feed grows. Whatever you starve dies. Allow me to take it a step further. If you are feeding one thing, you are starving another. There isn't enough food to go around. If you are feeding the villain, you are starving the hero. If you are feeding the hero, you are starving the villain.
Who is the villain? It's the negative image you've created of yourself. The one who will never graduate. The one who will never find love. The one who is never appreciated enough. The one who will always be drowning in school loans. The one who had abusive parents who told them they'd never accomplish anything. The one who can never get to a healthy body weight. The one who hates their job, their boss, their coworkers. The one who will never have a good night's sleep. The one who can't break that addiction. The one who is too stupid to start a business. The one who is still bitter from the divorce. The one who will never conquer depression. The one who can never be happy.
For each of these negative images (and the many more you might have personally), there are countless things we would call solutions - Medication, gym, diet, dating, sex, a better job, a second job, money, more medication. And, while these, and other, things might help bring temporary, physical relief, they are never enough to kill the villain of the story.
That's because to truly kill the villain you have to starve him. How do you starve him? You take away the only thing he eats, his favorite meal...
This is where people check out. They say, "I've heard this before. It doesn't work. I do better for a couple days, even a couple weeks, then I'm right back to where I was." And, they're right. But, let me help you understand why.
The reason this is so difficult, especially in the beginning, is because the villain doesn't die in a day. The villain doesn't die in a week. In fact, when you begin to starve the villain, he seems even stronger in the first few weeks than he did before. She seems to gain resilience like you've never seen. Why is that? Because the villain has one goal - SURVIVE. And, the only way to survive is to be fed. And, to be fed he has to make it known that he's dying in dramatic fashion. The images of self-deprecation are stronger than ever before. The negative thoughts become louder. Your false perception of how others see you screams like a starving infant.
The villain wants to live.
But, inside of you is also a hero. A hero that has not been fed in quite a while. Remember, when you feed the villain, you starve the hero. He's been silently waiting for a morsel of nourishment. She's been patient as you've ignored her. The hero is not dead. He's only malnourished. She is ready to show you how strong she is again!
You can't just starve the villain. You have to feed the hero. And, the only way to do this is to replace every NEGATIVE THOUGHT with a POSITIVE THOUGHT.
I love what the Bible says about this.
2 Corinthians 10:5 New International Version (NIV) 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Notice that the writer here doesn't just say that we take captive every thought. He also says we make it obey.
Whether you are a follower of Jesus or not, there is incredible power in the understanding of this passage from the Bible. The only way to make the villain obey, is if he is submitted to the hero. For me, my thoughts have to submit to the hero God has made me. He created me in perfection. And, if anything has gotten outside of that perfection, I have the responsibility to correct it. My weight, my emotions, my health, my relationships, my peace, my joy, my thoughts...all of it.
How is this done? By creating a lifestyle of starving the NEGATIVE THOUGHTS and feeding the POSITIVE THOUGHTS.
When a negative thought comes in, remember this post, and immediately say something to yourself that is positive. Maybe it's another passage from the Bible. Maybe it's a compliment. Maybe it's a statement of gratefulness. Even if you don't believe it at first, say it. Use your voice so the villain knows you're serious. Then, do it again. And, again. And then, again. And then, make it a lifestyle. Yes, a lifestyle. Something you do every day as a matter of your daily rhythm.
Once you do this day after day, over time you'll begin to notice there is an emaciated villain who seems to have lost his voice, and a powerful hero who has found his.