Mind Games in Relationships
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind…” Ephesians 4:23
One professional aptly stated that: “At age 20 we think: ‘What does everyone think about me.’ At age 40 we think: ‘It does not matter what other people think about me.’ And at age 60 we finally realize and think: ‘No one has been thinking about me anyway.’”
True. Most of our thoughts about the perceptions others have of us are self-perceptions. Most people are actually thinking about themselves and not thinking about you. Why is it that we can be so consumed with perception and what others are thinking?
Testimony is one reason. We should have a good testimony that is consistent with the Bible and that is exalting to Jesus. Testimony does not mean that people are always thinking of us. When they see us, or talk with us we should be edifying and encouraging. When the Spirit of God uses your testimony to help another person, they may think of you for a moment, but otherwise, they are not constantly thinking about you.
Most of the time however, the reason we are so “self-conscious” of what others think or may think about us has to do with our personal pride. Pride can create “Mind Games” than consume our time and damage needed relationships. This pride takes form in several ways. Here are two:
- Do you know someone that needs constant affirmation for the most basic tasks in life? As our children grow, they will ask from time to time “Are you proud of me? I just made the ball go in the basket. I just painted a watercolor, etc…” As we get older the need for affirmation should adjust to find value in “who we are” in Christ – not merely what we have done or can do with our actions. Insecure people seek the “pat on the back” in an obsessive way. We all need encouragement and should actively encourage others, but insecure people are consumed with peer affirmation to the point that it paralyses any positive progress in their spiritual life and in their family/acquaintance relationships.
- Like a bull in a china shop, overconfidence is bullish, brash, and bold in detrimental ways. This self confidence is the opposite of biblical humility. Its ego is fed by the projection of a certain “image” or perception the confident one wants other people to think about him/her. This boldness can be dismissive of other people and cause division in relationships. The ego must be fed at all costs because “I have an image to keep up…” This confidence can be in position, ability, wealth, or social standing. Self-righteousness is also a big contributor in a religiously minded person. Sometimes people who are overconfident, trying to impress people, have nothing in their life really worth bragging or boasting about. Many times, they have shallow victories with no real success; but they want others to think that they are successful. It’s another form of pride and is also one manifestation of an insecurity.
- Finding the balance in this pendulum of emotions and thinking is found by centering in on Jesus. We can be emotional and relational extremists in the thinking of our mind if we do not find a Bible balance.
In one long sentence to the Christians in the church at Corinth, Paul writes 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 which declares, “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
Notice that our sufficiency, security, and confidences is in God, not in ourselves. It takes humility to see this in a personal life.
Don’t let mind games swing your emotions and relationships from side to side. Reject the personal pride that causes faulty and sinful thinking. Replace pride with humility and a desire to point people to Jesus. Sharpen your testimony and ensure that your life (evident to others and in your mind) is not self-absorbed. Let the Word of God and the Spirit of God “renew” your mind each day. Purpose with God’s help to have accurate, Biblical, and right thoughts about yourself and others.
Other people are generally thinking about themselves. Stop thinking about yourself too and learn ways to help yourself and others think about Jesus. His Word. And His Father.