Self-talk…also known as our internal or external monologue. Just yourself..talking to yourself…No big deal, right? Sometimes, you’re giving yourself instructions on how to do something, or navigate through a situation. Other times, you’re criticizing yourself and tearing down confidence. All too often, it’s the latter.
For starters, do you think about what you say to others? Are you careful with your words depending on who you’re talking to? Of course you are! You would never bluntly tell your sensitive friend that her new haircut looks ridiculous (even if she asked for your opinion) you’d just kind of tip-toe around it choosing your words VERY carefully. Right? From time to time you may say exactly what you’re thinking (and instantly regret it if you’re anything like me), but generally, we’re all pretty thoughtful with our words…to others anyway. But what about when you talk to yourself? How kind and careful is that internal monologue? Is it as considerate then? If not, how come?
Typically, it’s because we’re harder on ourselves than our friends or even strangers, which in reality, is dangerous for us. Our self-talk, or internal/external monologue, plays a huge role in our lives whether we realize it or not.
Do these kinds of thoughts frequently cross your mind or leave your lips?:
“I’m so stupid.”
“I can’t remember anything.”
“I’m never going to *fill in the blank.*”
Girl, you better quit with all of that if that’s you! Your words have POWER. Don’t believe me? Here’s some proof, straight from THE WORD:
There are SO MANY MORE scriptures along with these! Our words have such a MAJOR impact on our lives and that’s exactly why we should be careful with them. Instead of making flippant remarks and not thinking much of them, let your words be filled with life and purpose! We should continuously be trying to improve our self-talk because it defines who we are and tells people what we think of ourselves.
How Self-Talk Works and Why It’s Powerful
Self-talk affects so much of who we are and what we’ll get out of life. It affects us mentally, emotionally, and even physically which is why it’s vital that our self-talk is of a positive format! It’s necessary for a happy, healthy life.
It always amazes me to hear someone speak harshly about themselves. In fact, it usually ends up hurting MY feelings for them!
Back when I taught Life Skills classes, which included topics like self-esteem, my heart would just about break hearing the way some of my participants spoke about themselves. Even if they weren’t claiming those negative characteristics over themselves, the more they said those terrible things, the more they seemed to believe them.
In many cases, when someone regularly tells us negative things about ourselves or points out our insecurities, (you’re so simple, fat, slow, awkward etc.), eventually we take on those labels wholeheartedly believing them. In other cases, we have low self-esteem from the get-go and we’re the only ones reinforcing those nasty thoughts. Either way, when you begin talking about yourself negatively (aloud or mentally), you’re only solidifying those negative thoughts and assumptions until BOOM–you now believe the lies that you’ve made up or heard for so long, and perhaps now you not only believe them but have become them.
There’s a Bright Side to All This
On the bright side, you have the ability to change the narrative! It goes the other way as well. See, when you begin to frequently speak highly of yourself, you’ll begin to believe it. Thus, replacing your self-doubt with confidence. Yay!
Even if you have people in your life that continue to speak poorly about or to you, you can combat every negative remark with positive words aloud or mentally. Sounds like some positive reinforcement, huh? Speaking of positive reinforcement, do y’all remember in The Help when Aibileen would have Mae Mobley recite these affirmations?:
She did this because she wanted Mae Mobley to hear and say them enough to believe them! Aibileen knew Mae Mobley’s mother regularly spoke poorly of her and never praised her for any good she did, so Aibileen wanted to combat those negative words with words of life! Ah! I love it.
As another example, think about athletes before a game, or performers before a show. They generally recite some sort of affirmation beforehand to hype themselves up and put them in a positive, confident mindset. The reason they do it is because it works! And you should try it, too! Initially, reciting affirmations will probably feel completely cheesy and awkward, so just pick some that work for you. (Scripture is a great place to start). The point is to just speak life over yourself.
Improving Your Self Talk
Make positive self-talk a priority today until it becomes a habit. If you need some help shifting away from your negative mindset, see the tips below to help you improve your self-talk.
1.) Take every thought captive.
Self-talk begins in our minds. If we think of ourselves a certain way, we’re going to start speaking it, believing it, and ultimately become it. This is great news if we’ve been proclaiming life over ourselves, but a horrible realization if we’ve been endlessly speaking negativity. *Remember, it works both ways.* Sometimes we can become so accustomed to saying things like, “oh, I’m so forgetful. I’m so dumb. I’ll never be successful etc.” that we don’t even hear ourselves saying that kind of nonsense. The key to correcting this is self-awareness that starts with our thoughts. When those negative thoughts enter our minds, we are told to take them captive. Meaning, we should become aware of our thoughts and cast out the ones that are not uplifting and good.
DO NOT LET THAT NEGATIVE THOUGHT GO FURTHER INTO YOUR SPIRIT.
DO NOT DWELL ON IT.
2.) Replace the thought.
Anytime you have a nasty thought about yourself, or harsh words escape your lips, replace whatever’s just been thought or spoken with the opposite. Speak good things into existence. For example:
“I’m so stupid” becomes, “I don’t understand right now, but I’m fully capable of learning.”
“I can’t do anything right” becomes, “Everyone makes mistakes and I’m going to try harder next time.”
See? It’s pretty simple to replace negativity once you get in the habit of taking every thought captive by practicing self-awareness. But what do you replace that negativity with? The truth, that’s what! Remind yourself of who you are in Christ.
AND SO. MANY. MORE.
And remember, every habit can be unlearned, so if you’ve gotten in the habit of speaking poorly to, or about yourself, unlearn in. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but I’m saying you can do it. Make it a priority. You have the choice, and the power! Don’t let self-pity become a part of who you are.
3.) Continue to dwell on all things good!
It’s easy to think of a good scripture about who you are in Christ, let it go, and then turn right back around into your habit of talking negatively about yourself.
THINK OF THE GOOD CONTINUOUSLY.
Say aloud what you love about yourself, the gifts God has bestowed upon you, how He might be using you to for His kingdom, and what you’re grateful for. Don’t give the enemy a chance to creep in, let you believe lies about yourself, and corrupt your self-talk.
You have breath in your lungs for a reason. You are here for a purpose and the longer you’re drowning in self-pity is just time wasted that you could be putting towards something good for the kingdom. Take heart!
I encourage you to fully commit to implementing these three methods to help improve your self-talk. Christ did not call you to be someone with low self-esteem, full of self-pity, and doubt, so do not take on those characteristics. Continually read His word so you find out who you are in Christ (Ephesians is a great place to start), and ask yourself what in your life and in your words reflects who He says you are. Improving your self-talk isn’t hard once you start paying attention to your thoughts and are intentional about what comes out of your mouth. And let me tell you…positive self-talk will change your life the better.
*If you need an extra confidence boost, check out this post on 5 Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt!
What do you think?