Why Introspection Can Be Dangerous

I stepped off the stage with a big smile, but inside I was wilting from insecurity.

Did I really just say that? Authenticity is my ministry call and mode of operation, but sometimes I worry that I am too honest—too vulnerable. My desire is to have modest honesty. Had I gone too far? Did I share too much?

My thoughts swirled in negativity as we finished our final time of worship. I slipped away to my book table, certain I would stand there alone until the cleanup crew asked me to leave the building. You’ve done it this time, Carey. You shared too much. So when a line of women formed, all waiting to talk to me, I stood amazed.

In my talk, I unpacked the story of being sexually abused at the age of four and how tangled in worthlessness and shame that experience left me. It’s a hard story to share. But because it’s the ground zero for insecurities that have knotted me up for so long, it’s a story God asks me to share. And as each woman in line hugged my neck, they whispered in my ear, “Thank you for sharing your story. It’s my story, too.”

Our testimony is powerful because it reminds others of God’s faithfulness. It offers hope to those who feel stuck. It brings a sense of community to those who feel all alone. And because of those things, the Enemy makes an act of vulnerability a battleground through our negative introspection.

That was exactly what I was doing the 20 minutes between the end of my talk and when the line of women began to form at my book table. I just knew sharing my abuse story was going to be the end of my speaking ministry. 

You have no idea how many times these kinds of thoughts come to my mind. Whether I’ve just spoken at an event or had coffee with a friend… be it immediately or hours later… more times than not I replay my words through a negative filter. I decide what I shared was stupid or irrelevant, rude or hurtful, simple or prideful, ridiculous or reckless, and I get embarrassed.

I hate that feeling.

Introspection can be a dangerous tool of the Enemy. This self-analysis can turn into self-condemnation unless we learn to do it right. Because when we get inside our head and pick apart the things we said, too often it becomes a deadly battleground. And the victim is our self-worth.

Even if our motives were pure… our hearts tender… our words innocent… and our intent good… the tangles of insecurity get the best of us. As we obsess over our words, the Enemy of our soul harasses us and we decide we’ve messed up again.

Let’s just be honest. Sometimes we don’t think through our words before we speak them.

We react from wounded places and our words are harsh. We say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Our humanness can rise up in reckless and ugly ways. And while it’s healthy and wise to circle back to that statement or situation and reevaluate how we could have handled it better, self-condemnation serves no good purpose.

Here are three ways we can have healthy introspection:

1. Find the Right Time and Place

Immediate introspection can be full of emotions that are not full of truth. Rather than replay it right then and there, give yourself some space to regroup. Schedule time later when you can give it your full attention.

2. Ask Yourself the Right Questions

Avoid asking “why” questions because they can be condemning and trigger shame responses. Why can’t I say the right thing? Instead, ask “how” questions because they are more solution-oriented. How might I have handled that better? How could my words have made them feel? How do I fix this?

3. Ask God for His Thoughts

God uses messy moments to soften our rough edges. Ask for divine revelation so you can learn from the situation and know the best way to move forward for all involved. His heart for you is always good, and His plans are too.

If we are going to be leaders in our homes and communities, we need to stand in the confidence that we are who God says we are—even when we mess up. We need wisdom and grace so we can love others well. And we need the Holy Spirit to guide our words so they are laced with truth and love.

And just as important, let’s use introspection wisely so we can learn from our mistakes instead of beat ourselves up for making them.

Carey Scott

Carey Scott is the author of Untangled, a book where she bravely shares her story of abuse, the insecurities birthed from it, and the freedom she now has through Jesus. She is also an international speaker who loves to have honest conversations about real life. She discusses the struggles women face the most, always reminding them of their immeasurable value. Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more by visiting CareyScottTalks. You can also connect with her on Facebook or Twitter

Join the discussion

Kate March 4, 2017 at 8:54pm

Thank you Carey for this beautiful reminder. I find myself once again referring back to this article today as I caught myself doing the whole negative instropection once again after a day of ministry with children. I think it was one of he hardest ministry days I have ever experienced but I know my habit of negative introspection and self condemnation serves 'no good purpose', as you put it. I have saved this page to my favourites and know I will refer to it regularly, well until I kick this habit for good with the help of God!!

Katie March 1, 2017 at 1:53pm

I called my ex boyfriend a bad name today at work and forgot there were other ears listening. Immediately I am condemning myself, "I should be over him and this pain by now" or "how will God ever use someone who said those words in a ministry" etc. This blog was my answer.

Melanie February 24, 2017 at 11:29am

Seriously thought this was just me. Waaaaay too much oversharing and then a lot of condemnation! I think I thought it was perimenopause cos I was never an overthinker when I was younger. I try to limit how much time I spend with others so I don't go home beating myself up. Thanks for your article and honesty I will remember for years to come...

Michelle February 21, 2017 at 5:39am

Great article. What a blessing. I thought I was the only one that did this!! God is gentle to correct our thoughts.

Chioma Anyanwu February 18, 2017 at 1:35am

Thank you for sharing this. This was very timely. I didn't realise how much I beat myself up about the littlest of things. I'm always recalling different scenarios in my head. I am so thankful for a God that knows us and there is always an opportunity to get into His presence and just be still.

Carey Scott February 14, 2017 at 10:34am

Marisa... Maureen... Amy Van... Patti... Mary... Cindy... Lori... Erica... Raquel... Thank you for your kind words. I am always so moved when God uses my story -- my words -- to encourage others. Introspection IS SO TRICKY and I'm glad we all see that now. I pray that you will be kind to yourselves as you replay moments in time!! Glad you stopped by!

Marisa February 14, 2017 at 12:51am

Thank you for this article. I have to say that this is something I struggle with a lot and am still a work in progress. The Lord has been revealing more and more to me that this is a big issue in my life and need for the Lord to start peeling away the layers of insecurity and start restoring my identity and start asking myself the how instead of why questions. I was blessed and encouraged by this article and being able to learn how to use introspection in a positive way. Thank you.

Maureen February 12, 2017 at 5:57am

This article has truely been such a help to me as the devil so often uses introspection to make me feel insecure, discourage and that I am a failure. Your article has helped me to see this insecurity as a ploy that the devil is using to prevent me reach my full potential and God given destiny.

Amy Van February 12, 2017 at 4:34am

THANK YOU! Wow - can I relate because it's my story too and when I shared it publicly for the first time at a women's meeting, of course my introspective soul was having to be a warrior after having been so tender in my openness. God truly is amazing in His reassurance of the value of our story. I was just reading this morning in "Unashamed" (Christine Caine's book of course) about the necessity of stepping out of shame to free others and YOU, I and so many others can support each other as we take these courageous, often painful steps. You've inspired me as I start expanding my speaking and writing ministry. What a Saturday morning gift!

Patti February 12, 2017 at 3:39am

Excellent article. It is my reality too. I didn't even know it was called introspection I just thought it was me condemning myself. I will use these tools. Thank you.

Mary February 12, 2017 at 3:10am

I struggled with this back in 2014 when I decided with God's help to publish my story Exposed: Stories of Mercy and Grace where I speak of all my transgressions and how God was there EVERY Time to walk me through with Mercy and Grace. God's timing was perfect!!! Thank you for sharing. It's always a struggle between whether people will be blessed by it all or will they use it all against you. I decided to let guide all the "How to's", and the book has been a beautiful testimony of faith!!!!

Cindy February 12, 2017 at 2:16am

This read yielded a major "ahaha " moment! Well said Carey.

Lori February 12, 2017 at 1:58am

This has always been a struggle for me. I disect conversations I have with people and always think I've messed up that relationship. But more often than not when I next see the person they're happy with the conversation we had. The devil is sly but God has equipped up. Thank you for this article.

Erica February 12, 2017 at 1:02am

Loved this! Thanks for sharing.

Carey Scott February 11, 2017 at 6:19am

Alicia... so glad you're gathering tools to help you introspect kindly. That's half the battle! :)

Raquel February 11, 2017 at 2:31am

I loved loved reading this article. It is so awesome that God knows exactly what you need. I was having introspect moment, which is often these days. I heard in my spirit to go to propel articles and boy did I need this. I think we struggle so much in our thoughts about what people are saying or thinking when God wants us to focus on what he wants from us. This really touched me today! Thanks Cary for your transparency.

Alicia February 10, 2017 at 5:48am

Loved this article as I have done a lot of introspecting and wonderful to read about things to watch for and healthy steps to take. Introspecting is one of the ways the enemy has been using to keep me in chains, but with these steps and others I have learned I think I can introspect in a healthy way going forward. Thank you for sharing this article.