Whether we’re conscious of it or not, each of us has an inner dialogue running through our mind. Sometimes I find myself thinking on something and then realize I have no idea how I got there.
It catches me off guard.
A mind that constantly runs seems to be pretty normal, right? But what happens when we deviate from positive self-talk and run down a path of negative self talk about ourselves?
How does negative self talk affect us?
Through years of ups and downs with depression and chronic illness, I experienced the detrimental effects of negative self-talk. And it wasn’t until I got serious about reframing my thoughts that I was able to start healing.
Now I consciously choose to think on things that align with scripture and encourage me in living out my identity as a daughter of God. This is a conscious choice I make daily, hourly, and sometimes by the minute.
With lies and negativity being shouted to the masses, it’s no wonder depression, anxiety, and overall discontentment are on the rise.
I’m convinced that many of the struggles we face with negative self talk and feelings of inadequacy stem from the things we feed ourselves. Both outside influences (like social media) and internal influences (the way we speak to ourselves) are feeding us food that either nourishes or depletes us.
Proverbs 15:14 says,
A discerning mind seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness. (CSB)
It clearly matters what we feed our minds. Talking to myself with words that aren’t just hurtful but are actually untrue makes me a fool.
So I know I shouldn’t do that anymore. I refuse to speak words, either vocally or internally, about myself that put me down or reinforce negative thought patterns.
And my life has changed drastically as a result.
Things I refuse to say to myself:
1. I’m fat, ugly, not pretty enough, etc.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of self-depreciation because of perceived appearance. Having dealt with acne and weight issues on and off since childhood, I’ve cried over my appearance more times than I care to discuss. At this point in my life, I know it’s not worth it to engage in negative talk about my body.
We were created in God’s image for the purpose of glorifying Him. This goes much beyond outer appearance. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV) Because of this truth, I choose to care for my body well without obsessing over my appearance.
2. My husband doesn’t love me.
This is one of the biggest lies that creeps into my life. I have an unjustified fear of abandonment that I must choose to release to God when it creeps in. I know that Jonathan loves me. And even so, I know my hope cannot be placed in the love of another person. It can only be placed in Christ.
3. Things will ONLY be better if…
The grass is greener syndrome is a real struggle, isn’t it? This one is made worse when I become too laser-focused on what I believe is going to make everything better. Without that one thing, things can’t get better (or so I sometimes think). This is a lie. While there are tools and resources for my health and well-being that I believe God placed on my path at just the right time, the situation can become better (or I can feel better about it) if I choose to reframe my thoughts. I don’t have to wait for something to change.
4. I have to get my life together. I have to figure it out.
Sure, I make intentional choices each day because I want to live so that God would be known and glorified. But that doesn’t mean I have to put so much pressure on myself. Each day, I can faithfully take steps in the direction I plan to go, but I can do so without a heavy yoke.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)
5. I’ll never be healthy, happy, better, etc.
I can’t live in “never-land.” Why limit what God can do in the situations of life? I’ve come to realize that my perspective has a lot to do with how I feel about my happiness, health, and overall state of being.
6. I hate my life or I hate myself.
This one cannot enter my thought process. It just can’t. I do not hate my life. When something goes wrong and this lie starts to creep in, I have to squash it by replacing it with truth. Lately I’ve been praying that God would squash any lies that come across my path.
7. I’m so stupid.
I do not actually think I’m stupid. I believe I’m intelligent. But when I would get embarrassed about something, I too often, in the past, found myself engaging in an internal dialogue of negative self-talk that told me I was stupid. Telling myself I’m stupid is not speaking truth, and it’s harmful for my attitude.
So these are the words of negative self-talk I refuse to tell myself.
Do I perfectly draw the line? Honestly, no. There are times when these thoughts begin to creep into my mind. But in those moments, I have a choice. I can either engage in the thoughts or stop them in their tracks.
When I choose to stop the negative thinking patterns, I am happier, healthier, and more content.
There is immeasurable power in both positive and negative self talk.
It’s pretty cool how God designed our minds, huh?
I’m curious … have you found that speaking positive, truthful words to yourself is beneficial? Has negative self talk been harmful to you?
I’d love to know more! Please share in the comments below!