“Who do you think you are? What makes you think YOU should be doing this? You aren’t good enough…. You are the worst mom.” I don’t know about you, but sometimes the way that I talk to myself isn’t nice. I would certainly never talk to my friends the way I talk to myself sometimes. I have a feeling I’m not alone on this.
I’ve heard it said before that the biggest obstacle we have to overcoming adversity is ourselves. It begins in our minds. The way that we talk to ourselves can either encourage us to live into the fullest version of who God created us to be- free and living lives of adventure- or it can stunt us, leaving us insecure and fearful. We can allow our thoughts to move us towards freedom and wholeness or they can become the very chains that keep us from those things.
When I am controlling my thoughts and not allowing the negative ones to run rampant in my mind, I am confident and strong and feel like I can take on any challenge. But when I allow lies of insecurity and fear to take over and wreak havoc on my thought life, it can be paralyzing.
So, if there is so much power in the way that we talk to ourselves, HOW do we actually control our thoughts? How do we walk confidently in whom we are without letting the negative thoughts take permanent residence in us? How do we combat the kind of negative self-talk that creeps in and pulls us away from freedom, and living out our calling and our goals?
- Take every thought captive.
Rather than allowing every thought to run freely in your mind all the way to the end, grab hold of negative thoughts and stop them in their tracks. Phil and I will also sometimes do this with each other when we are speaking. If one of us starts down an unhelpful trail of negativity, the other will stop the person and point it out.
Take every thought captive. Be aware of what thoughts you are allowing to run wild in your mind. Take notice of them. Don’t beat yourself up for having them in the first place, but also don’t lean into them and allow them free reign to take over.
- Speak truth to yourself
Speak truth over yourself when your self-talk is turning negative and unhelpful.
I’ve found it to be helpful to find scripture that reminds you who you really are. Meditate on it, memorize it, and speak it over yourself when the negative thoughts creep in.
Place encouraging notes with scriptures or truth in places where you will regularly see it in order to remind you who you really are. At one point I had one plastered on every mirror in our home and in my car. This might seem like a little much, but I couldn’t get through a day without being blasted with the reminder of who I am. It was helpful.
- Combat negativity by shifting your word choice.
When you hear negativity, self-doubt or straight up self-bashing creeping in, stop and correct it.
I’m the worst at this- I need more practice.
This is never going to work – This is challenging.
I am stupid. I am gifted in many ways.
This is going to fail- This is worth trying.
Often times, it’s the manner we speak to ourselves that is so damaging. In the same way that we wouldn’t want to speak to a friend in absolutes, “You will never get that done,” it isn’t helpful to speak to ourselves that way either.
- Shift your focus to gratitude
Focus on the positive things in your life. You may not feel like there is much is much to be thankful for if your negative thoughts are spiraling out of control, but take a moment and really think:
What is going well? What good is in your life? There is always something to be thankful for. What things can be celebrated? What is one way you are adding value to the lives of others around you?
- Let go of outcomes.
All we can do is try our best. When we are trying new things or going for something that’s risky, all we can do is TRY! Remind yourself that it’s okay to fail.
This one is very hard for me, but the more I release outcomes to God, the more I am able to lean into the things that He is calling me into with abandon. And there’s SO MUCH freedom in the release!
These are a few things that have been helpful for me. What do you do to foster healthy self-talk? Love to hear from you!