A friend and I planned to run an errand together recently. She’d climbed into the car and buckled her seatbelt when she suddenly blurted, “I’m so stupid—I forgot my purse.”
I’m so stupid.
That phrase—three words of negative self-talk—came effortlessly. I suspect my friend has entertained them in her thoughts more often than we can count, and she’s probably spoken them more often than she realizes. If my suspicions are right, then chances are good she subconsciously believes those words are true.
Negative self-talk can slip into our mind and over our tongue almost unnoticed. Perhaps you can relate to one or more of these:
- “I’m the only one who does any work around this place.”
- “No one gives a rip about how I feel.”
- “I’m fat. I’ll never be able to lose this weight, so why even bother trying?”
- “I’ll never get well.”
- “Some people are so gifted, but I’m not good at doing anything in particular.”
The more we engage in unhealthy self-talk, the deeper we dig those ruts in our brain. Before long, we’ve trained our brain to think negatively. It’s no secret that our thoughts influence our attitudes. Our attitudes influence our behavior. And our behavior ultimately determines the direction our life takes.
Yesterday I heard a sermon based on Psalm 103. The first two verses caught my attention:
“Praise the LORD, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me.”
The psalmist continued by listing those things God had done for him: forgiven his sins, granted physical healing, ransomed him from death, surrounded him with love and tender mercy, renewed his youth like the eagle, and more. Then he changed his focus to God’s character: He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, full of unfailing love, not accusatory, mindful of our weakness, and more.
The psalmist engaged in self-talk that focused on God’s truth. We ought to follow his example. Doing so is akin to wielding a spiritual weapon of warfare against the enemy who seeks to destroy us (Ephesians 6:10-14). He flees when we speak words of life and hope as opposed to death and discouragement. Here are some examples:
- “I am precious in God’s eyes.”
- “God surrounds me with love and tender mercies. I can trust Him no matter what.”
- “God will help me because He understands my weaknesses.”
- “God is my strength. He will equip me to do everything I need to do today.”
- “God is my rock. The storms of life will blow, but I will not be shaken because He is my foundation.”
What words do you routinely tell yourself? Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of negative self-talk and teach you how to change it. Tell yourself words of Truth, and chase the enemy away in defeat.
Grace: I printed this and I’m going to read those positive and uplifting scriptures every day when I’m having my big cup of morning tea. Some of us have picked up negative ways of speaking along the way, and many of us were raised with it. Even in this current time, I am re-educating my mind and trying to erase the negative statements and judgemental way of speaking that I heard from many of my adult family members, as I was a girl growing up in our home and that of relatives. Remembering it now, it was terrible when my Mom or Aunt or Uncle would judge someone whom they never knew, but passed on the street, because of their hairdo or clothing……….or even the way they walked, and then utter a statement which could equal “tar and feathering”. As a child, I seemed to know that it wasn’t right, but I thought the adults must know what was right. Now I see how it ravages a part of our own mental capacity, and now I am the one to clean it up. Thanks for the help.
How precious that you should give me this gift. I can read these beautiful things from scripture, and enjoy beautiful thoughts and statements of goodness about myself and others which glorify God and fill me up with good things. So glad I clicked in to this on this very morning.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Marge. Negative self-talk slips in so quickly, and it always skews our perspective of our circumstances or of other people or of ourselves. Yuck! I’m glad you found those scriptural truths helpful. Focusing on what’s right, like the Truth, can help us retrain our brains.
Thanks so much for this wonderful post. I totally agree! I recently released a book, Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend – the only book about self-compassion from a faith perspective. I so appreciate reading your like-minded blog about real life and faith!
Thanks for stopping by, Kim. And congratulations on your new release! Thanks for addressing the need to silence the inner critic. Sometimes we’re ‘way too hard on ourselves. Blessings today, friend!