Healing for Damaged Emotions - A Book to Help Christians Deal with Low Self Esteem and Other Issues
In the first chapter of his book, Healing for Damaged Emotions, Pastor David Seamands writes, "we preachers have often given people the mistaken idea that the new birth and being filled with the spirit are going to automatically take care of our emotional hang-ups. But this just isn't true." He goes on to say that acceptance of Jesus Christ does not automatically heal all emotional issues and is not a fix-all for personality problems.
Some of the damaged emotions Seamands describes are:
- a deep sense of unworthiness which includes feelings of anxiety, inadequacy and inferiority
- a perfectionist complex which includes ideas of never being able to please themselves, God or others
- a super-sensitive person who has usually been hurt deeply
- a person filled with fears who constantly struggles with the 'whys' and 'if onlys' of life
Dr. Seamands does give hope that there are "devine repairs" to heal damaged emotions. He emphasizes, though that it takes guidance by the Holy Spirit and actually doing your part. A few things he suggests in becoming proactive in your healing include:
- Accepting your responsibility in the matter
- Asking yourself if you want to be healed
- Forgiving everyone who is involved in your problem (including yourself)
Forgiveness is a huge issue when it comes to healing damaged emotions. Sometimes the cause of damaged emotions comes from failing to receive forgiveness and/or the failure to give forgiveness.
Satan uses psychological warfare against us. He strikes fear into our hearts, causes us to doubt and to worry and keeps us feeling guilty. Worst of all though, the enemy causes us to feel worthless knowing that low self-esteem can be deadly.
Four ways low self-esteem is damaging:
- It prevents us from reaching our fullest potential
- It destroys our dreams
- It ruins our relationships
- It prevents us from getting involved in the Body of Christ
"As he thinketh in his heart, so is he" Proverb 23:7
Dr. Seamands defines self-image as "a whole system of pictures and feelings you have put together about yourself."
Four sources our self-image comes from:
- The outer world, including family members and early relationships
- Our inner world, including our senses, capacity to learn, handicaps, etc.
- Satan who uses our feelings against us
- God and who He says we are and how He feels about us
So how does one go from having a poor self-image and low self-esteem to one who has a high self worth?
According to Dr. Maurice Wagner, a professional Christian counselor, there are three parts to having a healthy self-image:
- A sense of belongingness
- A sense of self-worth and value
- A sense of being competent
"Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind" Romans 12:2
Three things that are necessary to go from low to high self-esteem:
- The correction of faulty theology (knowing that belittling yourself is not the same as humility)
- Developing your worth and value from God (ask yourself questions such as, what right do you have to despise someone God loves so much?)
- Cooperate with the Holy Spirit (letting God teach you how to love yourself and others)
Results of Damaged Emotions
Some who suffer from damaged emotions tend to have personality distortions such as perfectionism, alienation from your true self and even depression. In his book, Dr. Seamands examines each of these distortions at length.
If you have been hurt in the past and are dealing with unhealed emotions, your tendency to be a perfectionist may be a result. What exactly is a perfectionist? "Perfectionism is a counterfeit for Christian perfection. Instead of making us whole persons in Christ - perfectionism leaves us spiritual Pharisees and emotional neurotics." Dr. Seamands also calls it "the most disturbing emotional problem among evangelical Christians."
Some symptoms of perfectionism include:
- A constant feeling of never doing well enough - "I ought to do this, I should have done it that way, I could have done better," etc.
- You are never quite satisfied with yourself and neither is God.
- Legalism - do's, dont's, rules and regulations
- Anger and resentment
When people continue to strive to be a perfectionist and realize they cannot be one they usually either have a breakaway or a breakdown.
Super You or Real You?
This can also be described as alienation from your true self. The super you is a false image you think you have to be in order to be loved and accepted. When you come into the presence of God during prayer, who do you present yourself as? The Super You or the Real You?
The Super You:
- Never admits to experiencing certain kinds of feelings, and considers anger a bad feeling
- Has the idea you need to always get along with everybody and that there should never be conflict between Christians
- Believes you always have to be happy
Although published in 1981, the book, Healing for Damaged Emotions continues to help those on their healing journey and is still used as a reference in Christian counseling settings.
The book has been translated into 15 languages and has helped millions of readers worldwide.
How can a Christian be depressed, you might ask. Aren't they supposed to have the "joy of the Lord?" Take a look at the following scriptures:
"Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" Psalm 42:5
"It is better for me to die than to live" Jonah 4:3
"My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death" Matthew 26:38
As you can see, there were people who, like David, Jonah and Jesus Himself, experienced depression.
Dr. Seamands stresses that "our failure to deal realistically with ourselves regarding depression is the root cause of much of our depression."
Three reactions that lead to depression:
Some ways to deal with depression:
- Avoid being alone
- Seek help from others
- Listen to music (that's not depressing)
- Be thankful
- Read the Word of God
- Rest in the presence of God
However, if you suffer from prolonged depression and cannot come out of it you may need to see your doctor or talk to a therapist.
The last chapter of this book is titled, "Healed Helpers." Dr. Seamands states, "Again and again I have been part of this deep healing as God recycles the damages, the pains and the infirmities and then uses them for someone's good and His glory."
He also stresses in this chapter that we do not need to be healed before we can effectively serve Christ. Too many people think they cannot come to God until they "get better." What they don't realize is that they need God to help them get better and that He wants us to come to Him just the way we are. We can also help others who may be having some of the same struggles. God never intended for us to do it on our own.
Healing for Damaged Emotions Workbook
If you feel the need to go deeper on your journey to emotional healing, there is a workbook available that will help you go through the healing journey step by step.
The workbook will help you to reflect on past hurts, to journal your feelings, and gives examples of prayers to pray. It will also help you gain insight as to why you suffer with such damaged emotions. You can go through it on your own, with a trusted friend or in a small group setting.