Don’t believe everything you think. Go back and read that sentence again. Do you believe everything you think? Have you ever stopped to consider that just because you have a thought, doesn’t mean that it’s a fact? Yet, most of us tend to behave as if every thought we have is true. I see people every day who struggle with feelings of hopelessness largely because they are operating under the assumption that their thoughts define them. They say things like, I’m a failure. Nothing I do is good enough. I mess up everything. I’ll never change. I’m worthless. I hate myself. I might as well just give up.
Does any of that sound familiar? In my line of work that’s what we call negative self-talk, internal dialogue, or the less clinical term, which I find much more descriptive, stinkin’ thinkin’.
It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of toxic thinking. Faulty core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us develop based on years of listening to negative messages and half-truths. We all have people in our lives who say hurtful and unhelpful, even destructive things. And we believe them. Maybe it’s someone you admire, or care for. Maybe it’s an authority figure, someone you respect. But imperfect people say imperfect things to each other. Those words, like seeds scattered in a garden, take root in our minds. The destructive messages are weeds that run rampant, and choke out the life-giving messages of truth.
With so many voices around us competing for a plot in the garden of our minds; family, friends, co-workers, coaches, mentors, media, culture, it can be confusing and draining to try to figure out what messages are true, or even helpful. Enter the master gardener.
No one knows us better than the one who created us. God created us to live meaningful lives filled with peace, love, hope, faith, grace, and joy. We lose those things when we start believing all of the lies planted in our heads that take root through the many influences around us, instead of believing the truth. Romans 12:2 tells us that we can “be transformed by the renewing of our minds”. Once you weed your garden of all that stinkin-thinkin’, you may just be amazed at how much better you feel about your life. About yourself.
Hope whispers, speak kindly to yourself.
It’s actually a very simple process. You begin by writing down every negative, unhelpful, self-destructive thought you have. Then, write a truthful counter statement for every faulty one. Something that is positive, helpful, and affirming. If you feel you don’t know what’s true, ask a friend to help you. And you can always find the truth in the Bible. God’s Word is filled with true and powerful messages you can use to plant seeds of life. Start telling yourself the truth. You will begin to experience a shift in the way you think and feel, about yourself and others. Hope will take root.
If you’re skeptical about how changing the way you talk to yourself can bring positive change into your life, try this experiment. After you write down a list of positive, truthful, affirming statements, try saying them aloud while looking at yourself in the mirror, every day for 30 days. You may feel silly at first. That’s okay; do it anyway. Listen to your voice speak life and truth every day. Notice if your mood improves, if your attitude becomes more positive, if your creativity is ignited, if your choices change. Notice if it becomes easier to begin to decipher the voice of life from the voice of lies. There is only a one letter difference between life and lie….sometimes it’s that subtle in the messages that clamor for our attention. Choose words of life.