Self talk is what we tell ourselves in our thoughts. Self talk is what we tell ourselves about the people in our lives, the experiences we have, the circumstances we are in, the decisions we have made. It is all the words that we say to ourselves all the time.
Sometimes self talk is good. When self talk is wholesome and positive, it can create good mood, heighten our self esteem, and bring about change. With good self talk, we can tell ourselves positive things about ourselves and about others that can strengthen our relationships. Positive self talk can motivate us into action, lead us towards helping others, help us in accomplishing our goals, and enable us to build a positive future. Self talk can be a very positive aspect of our lives.
On the other hand, negative self talk can be very destructive and harmful to us in so many ways. It can cause mood swings and slumps in attitude and outlook on life in general. Our self worth can plummet down into the pit of despair, making it difficult to cope with life and drag ourselves up out of the pit we created for ourselves. Our body will feel sluggish and out of sorts. Our will to accomplish even the smallest of tasks can feel flattened and lifeless. Even our actions can defeat us and turn against us, leading us onto destructive pathways.
All too often, I can find myself, if I’m not careful, falling into that trap of negative self talk. Whether I just keep those thoughts tucked tight inside my head, or I say them out loud, I am doing myself harm every time I circle that trap. Those “words” tug at me, trying to lure me into the trap of saying them over and over again, silently or out loud, to myself or to anyone else I wish to bring into my pity party.
I’m sure you are familiar with the “words” I am talking about. My guess is, that you, my blog reader, might have uttered these same words to yourself at some point of time. “I am so ugly.” “I am so stupid.” “Nobody loves me.” “Nobody wants me.” “I can’t do that.” “I’m such a failure.” Oh, and that mantra of negative self talk goes on and on and on! Sadly, once those words cross my thought pattern and flow out of my mouth, then I am trapped! Trapped in the cycle of believing my own self talk, believing the negative words that others utter about me. And, the more I repeat those words to self, the deeper I go into the pit of “poor me!”
For years, I have struggled with negative self talk, and trying to stay out of the pit that intentionally seeks to trap me in its never ending cycle of destruction. It hasn’t been easy. But I am finally learning that in the midst of that struggle, I need to hit my reset button. By that I mean, I need to reset my thinking. Change what I am saying to myself. Clean up my self talk.
That is where the amazing teaching from the Psalmist of God’s Word comes into play. God’s Word is my reset button. Reading it will change the thoughts and words that come from my mouth and my heart. I find great hope and encouragement in the words of Psalms 19:14. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”
You see, when I am in the cycle of negative self talk, not only am I doing harm to myself, but also to those who are listening to me. The Lord my God, my Creator, is with me everywhere I go. He listens to every conversation I have. Whether those conversations are directed to Him, toward others, or in my own head and heart, my God is listening! He hears my self talk, whether it is positive or negative; He is listening!
So, whenever I say, “I am so stupid!” – my head and heart might want to believe that at the time I say it, and other people in my life might be telling me that I am stupid, but is it really true? NO! It’s not true! In all honesty, it’s insulting to the One who created me. Because He didn’t create me to be stupid, and He never sees me that way. So, why am I telling myself that?
And, whenever I say to self, “Nobody loves you, nobody ever could!” Well, that too, is just not true. The Lord my God, my Creator loves me more than anyone ever could. He loves me unconditionally! And He loves me forever, no matter what I do or how I feel or what I have accomplished in my life.
I am learning, whenever I’m circling that negative self talk trap, to say out loud to myself the words of Psalms 19:14. I want the words that come out of my mouth, to be words from my heart that I actually believe. I want the words that come out of my mouth to be pleasing to my God. And when I start saying the words of the precious psalm out loud to my God, then change happens. The negative becomes positive. The mood swings in the opposite direction, my motivation alters, my attitude improves, and my self esteem changes course. My self talk runs away from the pit.
I begin to say words that I actually believe. My self talk becomes words that are true and trustworthy and uplifting and positive. Words that remind me who I am to God. Words that honor the One who created me to be something different than negative. Words that lighten my heart, uplift my soul, and strengthen me as a person. I find myself saying, “You are loved, You are adored, You are redeemed, You are chosen, You are beautiful, You are worthy. Because in God’s eyes, I am all those things and so much more! Those are the words that are acceptable to the ears of the Lord my God! Those are the kind of words that make self talk a valuable thing, because those are the kind of words that changes me as a person.
So, with all that in mind, let me tell you a story – –
A few weeks ago, I went for a walk at a nearby park. I love to go there and walk laps whenever I have a lot on my mind, have decisions to make, have circumstances to sort through, or just need some fresh air when I’m upset about something. This park is one of my favorite places to practice my self talk, be it out loud or quietly in my heart as I walk.
On this particular day, I not only went to the park for some lap walking therapy, but I was also venting over some extremely negative talk that others had given to me. What was given to me were very hurtful words. Words that crushed my spirit, and made me doubt myself and my accomplishments. Words that stung to the very core of my being. Words that could never be taken back. Words that were set to do their destructive work in my thought processes. Words that made my steps heavy and cumbersome. Words that brought an unavoidable ache to my heart.
During the first couple of laps around the park, I rehearsed those words, over and over again, out loud, trying to determine if I wanted to believe them. Maybe the person who said them was right. Maybe I am that way. Maybe I am a total and utter failure, with nothing to offer anyone. Maybe I should just shut up and go away. Maybe… !
All of the sudden, I stopped dead in my tracks on that pathway. I just stood there for the longest time, unable to move forward. The words of Psalms 19:14 came washing over my heart and soul. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I began to say those words out loud, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable….” and I stopped. Wait! Wait just a moment. These words that I have been uttering are far from acceptable. They are hurting me! These words, that I am uttering are hurting me over and over every time I say them. They are hurting the very ears of my God as He listens to His child. I burst forth with a prayer to God, saying, “Oh Lord my God, I am circling that trap once again. I am seeking to believe what other people are telling me, when, what you want me to believe is that their words are not even true. Forgive me God for believing them, for rehearsing them over and over in my mind, for allowing that negative self talk to even roll off my tongue. Forgive me please my God!”
As I stood in the middle of the park’s pathway, I looked up to the heavens and I felt God’s presence. Right there, I experienced His forgiveness. I felt His loving arms, as I gained new strength. I knew in that moment, I could move forward.
With my next step, I became to recall to my mind, the words of the Lord my God that would honor and please Him. Words that would heal my wounded heart and soul. Words that would turn myself away from the pit, toward the Lord my God who is “my strength and my Redeemer.” Words that made God and my self smile once again. The words kept coming as I walked several more laps around the park. I was getting a great workout!
Well, unbeknownst to me, I was being watched this entire time. There, at the park, walking laps in the opposite direction, passing me often during my litany of self talk, was another lady about my same age. She stopped me. At first I was really embarrassed by what she had to say to me. “I’m sorry dear, but I just have to stop you and ask if you are alright?” Did she see my face turn red? Ugh, I was so embarrassed!
Before I could even answer, she continued. “I have passed you multiple times as we’ve walked this morning and I’ve listened to your self talk. At first you were pretty hard on yourself and I wondered what was wrong. Then I would pass you again and you were still going at it. I wondered if I should stop you and offer you some help, but I was afraid to interrupt you. Then I saw you stop. I passed by you then too and I realized that you seemed totally oblivious to anyone else around you. You were talking out loud and I couldn’t figure who you were talking to. Then the last two laps I have realized that you were talking to God. That’s when I began to pray for you, asking God to give you the help and peace that you needed. So, now I will ask, are you alright?”
Thankfully, this dear lady was willing to look past my red face of embarrassment, the tears streaming down my cheeks, the craziness of talking to myself out loud and she was able to see a person with a hurting heart. God bless her! I’m not sure how many laps we did that day, but she walked with me and I didn’t even know it. But, God bless her for caring!
It was then that we sat down on a park bench and began to talk to each other. I learned that she too does the self talk laps around the negative trap of destruction. Thank God I was not alone in that! I was able to share with her Psalm 19:14 and how I turned my negative thoughts and self talk towards words that God would accept. Words that would change my heart and thinking. Words that I could believe in.
She listened intently, shaking her head in agreement often. Then she looked at me and said, “But why, if you don’t mind my asking, why do you say those words out loud?”
I paused and thought for a moment, choosing my next words very carefully. I smiled at her and boldly said, “Because, sometimes my ears need to hear my mouth say what my heart truly believes.”
That, to me, is what self talk is all about!
Go on, say those words out loud to your self. Your ears need to hear your mouth say what your heart truly believes!
Go on, say those acceptable words out loud to the Lord your God. He is listening to you!