The Deceptive Mirage of Self-Image

This is a guest blog post by Melissa Harrison.

One of the books I am currently reading is on the topic of self-image.

Some of you may already know that self-image has been something that I have struggled with for the bulk of my life. The title of the book is Self-Image How to Overcome Inferiority Judgements by Dr. Lou Priolo, director or biblical counseling at Valleydale Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).

I hadn’t heard of Dr. Priolo until two beloved sisters in Christ mentioned him to me, and I’m so glad they did. Dr. Priolo also has several other short and practical books on what I will call sanctification issues (such as bitterness, fear, and manipulation). Don’t read any of them unless you are serious about becoming more Christ-like.

I’m not too far into his book on self-image, but I wanted to share something that has already been extremely helpful to me. Dr. Priolo starts by defining what self-image is: “Self-Image can best be classified as a judgment one makes as he evaluates himself. Self-Image, therefore, is not an emotion or a feeling, but rather a part of our cognitive process. It is fundamentally thought, not feeling.” [1]

You may be wondering why those words stood out to me. The reason is that I’ve always been a feeler. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a thinker, too; well, more like an overthinker if I’m being honest, but that’s a conversation for another time. But for me, it’s been more feeling than thinking. Emotions have always been, well, emotional for me – always a rollercoaster – and I felt enslaved by them (see Galatians 5:1).

I used to think that if I felt it, then, it must be true.

It was a true light bulb moment when I read the words of Dr. Priolo. The implications were huge if my self-image feelings were in fact thoughts! Why? Because as a follower of Christ I know what I’m charged to do. As crazy as it may sound, it never occurred to me to think in terms of my own thoughts. I usually just thought of them in terms of what is true and what is false.

Thoughts are just thoughts and can be true and false.

That may not seem like a big distinction to you, but it is for me because thoughts are subjective, and truth and error are objective regardless of what I may think. As followers of Christ, we are called to take every thought captive and to renew our minds so as not to be conformed to this world. (See Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

I’m already so thankful to the Lord for this little book, and I look forward to sharing with you what else the Lord will reveal to me as I make my way through it.

Soli Deo Gloria!


[1] Lou Priolo, Resources for Biblical Living: Self-Image: How to Overcome Inferiority Judgments, (P&R Publishing, 2007), 6.

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