Let’s Talk

What Drives You?

Q. How I can be free from allowing my performance to dictate my value as a person?

A. Let’s Talk! Sadly, our culture’s view of performance dictates our self-esteem and feelings of success; and is a false measure of what matters. It’s a trap with glitter on it, and it’s a challenge to get free from these messages of our culture and our past . . . but let’s do it! 

When (not IF) you fail at something – what are the messages that you play internally? Do you berate yourself? Do you repeat hurtful messages passed down to you from family or friends? That’s a pretty big sign that performance matters . . . too much. When we fail at something and we begin to beat up on ourselves, our performance not only mattered too much but also dictates our worth.

Sample messages that have to die include “You are such a zero.” “You can’t do anything right.” Can you replace those messages with the truth? For example, “I failed at that task, but I am not a failure. I can try again. My performance has nothing to do with my value as a person.”

If we don’t settle this issue in our own lives, we will pass along that trap to others. Family or friends will feel you measuring their lives and their results. They will sense your approval or disapproval of them based on their performance. It is an unloving intruder in relationships. In reality it is a spillover from your own trap; so you need to repair the well. Here’s an exercise: describe yourself. Did you use performance words? Oops.

How do we really matter? Is it by the things we do (performance) – or something else? My something else is that the God of the universe gave me life. I matter to Him. Psalm 139 describes my birth and yours, as well as how much we matter. I’d like to think I look to Him for my value, although it took decades. You might say I am a recovering performance junkie. Think about guarding your heart for those performance messages dictated in TV commercials and for the drivenness worshipped in our culture. Are you willing to consider that success is being in the center of God’s will?

What’s more important to you, the outside (performance) or the inside (your heart, your spirit)? Which one are you feeding? The one you feed will be the stronger one. You do get to choose.

For Deeper Reflection

Psalm 139: 13,16 [though the whole chapter is amazing], “For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb . . . Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them . . . .”

Jeremiah 1: 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you . . . .”

Ephesians 1: 3 – 6 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him, in love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved . . . .”


Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.




  1. Spot on, Dearest Dr. Helen! Another eye opening exposure of what makes me tick and the despairing damage I’ve shared with my beloved children and others!

    So grateful that our Father has given you the commission to ‘set the prisoners free’, Sweet Friend and fellow traveler!


    • Oh, dear Joanie – you are the encourager! Thank you so very much for writing. I had begun to wonder if there was anyone listening – no one has written in a spell – but then I reminded myself that that smacked of PERFORMANCE!!!! 🙂 I then told the Lord I would continue if He was the only one reading the post. After all, it is His! So, if you were blessed, He did it! How I love you, sweet friend. Love you! Helen