When we experience a hardship or pain, it can scar us in more ways than we realize. We tend to focus on how such events change the way that others perceive us… but what about the way we perceive ourselves???? I believe divorce impacts us in such a way that we can completely lose ourself. Not only we do we see our Ex in a different way, we say ourselves in way that we never imagined we could. We may have done or said things that brought out a side of us we didn’t even know existed. We likely didn’t set out on a mission to get married and divorced. And at some point – we have probably judged someone who is divorced. So now what? We’ve become what we looked down on??
This weekend at church we had the privilege of having Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott teach our Marriage Conference and then Dr. Les gave our Sunday sermon . And man was it good! His message on Sunday was on relationships and he started it with this nugget –
“If you try to build intimacy with another person before you have gotten whole on your own, all your relationships will be an attempt to complete yourself – and they will fall flat. Only God can make us whole.”
Now that’s good stuff!
Most of our issues are not because of the way other people see or even treat us – but our issues are found in the way we see and treat ourselves. Not to say that others don’t mistreat us – abuse of all kinds is very present in our society and it is absolutely harmful. Our self-image can be tainted by any number of things. But to get better and be whole, we need to view ourselves from God’s perspective. We can’t see who He says we are when WE are constantly telling ourselves who we are not. So let’s unpack the negative self-talk and learn how to stop it dead in its tracks!
What did you just say???
Proverbs 18:21 New International Version (NIV)
21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.
WORDS ARE POWERFUL! BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ARE SPEAKING – NOT JUST INTO OTHERS, BUT ALSO INTO YOURSELF.
What is self-talk? It is an inner voice that combines conscious thoughts with unconscious beliefs and biases. Our brains use it to interpret and process daily experiences. It can be useful when it is positive, talking down fears and boosting confidence. But our nature is more inclined to negative self-talk, however, and to make sweeping assertions like “I can’t do anything right” or “I’m a complete failure”.
Negative Self-talk -is a negative inner voice that we use to reinforce irrational or skewed beliefs about ourselves. Our negative inner voice can be unrealistic and even harmful. It often paralyzes us into inaction and holds up progress in our lives.
Rumination – is a thief of joy. It happens when you replay troublesome or cringe-worthy thoughts or events over and over again in your head. Thinking through a problem can be useful, but if you spend a lot of time ruminating, small issues get much bigger. Constant rumination can make us more likely to experience depression or anxiety. Don’t sit down and constantly ruminate over conversations and interactions from your divorce or your ex. Could things have gone differently?? Yes, they could have – but as my friend Leslee would say, ” you can’t change what you already said anymore than you can go back and change what you ate for breakfast”!
***Remember one of the enemies greatest weapons is DECEPTION! The serpent “deceived” Eve into believing what she THOUGHT she knew, was wrong. He convinced her to believe something COMPLETELY irrational – so far from reality that we still question why she was fooled by it. From our view, its plain as day – but she was deceived by it.
What are some ways negative self-talk affects us everyday?
- Limits our hope – Your thinking will be limited to what you believe you can do or have, so you limit yourself when you say “I’ll never have someone that loves me” or “I’m not strong enough for that”. Those statements take away your hope for your own future.
- Perfectionism– You start to believe that “great” isn’t as good as “perfect,” and that perfection isn’t an unrealistic expectation. Ever heard the quote “better is the enemy of good”? People that are high achievers tend to be happier than perfectionistic because they are less stressed and satisfied with themselves and their work. When hold ourselves to a standard of perfection, we set ourselves up for failure everyday. It doesn’t take many days of feeling like failure to start believing that failure defines you.
- Depression– Research has shown that negative self-talk can increase feelings of depression. Negative talk to ourselves only reinforces insecurity and uncertainty. This becomes a cycle as we continue to support the feelings of depression with our own negative self-talk.
- Relationship Struggles– We can’t speak negatively to ourself about ourself and expect others to see the positive in us. When think less of ourselves, it comes out in conversation and interaction with those around us as self-criticism. Constant self-criticism can make us seem needy and insecure. Sometimes we turn our negative self-talk into more general negative habits – creating a negative environment around us. It’s hard to believe others value you when you do not value yourself. But more importantly, it’s hard to love others and believe good about them when you do not love yourself.
1 Peter 3:10 New International Version (NIV)
10 For, “Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
Hush your mouth!
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
WE ARE DAUGHTERS OF THE KING MOST HIGH! HE HURTS WHEN WE HURT AND HE HURTS WHEN WE HURT OURSELVES!
What are some ways to stop all the negative chatter??
- CATCH YOUR CRITIC –Pay attention to what your inner voice is saying, take note when you say things to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a child. Catch yourself in the action. Is what you are telling yourself aligned with what God’s word says? Would you want someone to speak to your daughter that way? Every woman has met a “mean girl” – one that is just mean for no reason. Don’t be that way to yourself. The Bible says in 1 John 3:1 (NIV) See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him..
- THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS ARE GOOD LIARS – Thinking negative things about yourself may feel like you are making educated observations, but your thoughts and feelings about yourself ARE NOT facts. Nor can they be considered the perception of others. Your thoughts can be distorted and lead you down a rabbit-hole that is so far from reality it would be comical to those around you. Choices lead and feelings follow – choose to align your thoughts with Gods word, even if you don’t feel it. The Bible says in Proverbs 28:26 Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
- CALL THE CRAZY OUT – Anyone remember the Saturday Night Live character known as “Debbie Downer” ? She could find something negative in any situation. I know this sounds crazy… but give your inner critical voice a name! My therapist taught me this and it works. It absolutely helped me recognize that those critical thoughts were real but they weren’t me! Sometimes giving that negative voice in our thoughts a name can help us identify it and even see how ridiculous or irrational our thoughts can be. We have an enemy and he has a name. If God gave the enemy a name, then I will too! And just for laughs – I’ll tell you that I named my critic Susan. Sorry to all the Susan’s out there – haha! The Bible says in Revelation 12:9 (NIV) 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
- TAKE YOUR CRITIC TO COURT – That’s right, put her on the stand! I mean cross-examine her. Negative self-talk often goes unchallenged. That is why we believe it, we accept whatever negative-talk throws our way. No one knows what you are saying to yourself so others can’t tell you if you are wrong. When you catch yourself in negative-talk, ask yourself how true it is? Say it out-loud – sometimes when we hear our thoughts we realize they are unrealistic. Write it down or even run it by a trusted friend – support from our friends is the best way to shine light in our dark thoughts! If someone spoke to you negatively, you would likely defend yourself – challenge it, why don’t we challenge the negative things we say to ourselves? We have been instructed in God’s word to keep nothing hidden in the dark and test our knowledge against God’s word. So check your thought to see where it came from and if it is aligned with God’s word. The Bible says, 1 John 4:1 (NIV) 4 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
- BE A FRIEND OF YOURS – Our inner critic can be our own worst enemy. We say things to ourselves that we’d never say to a friend. So try reversing this and try to imagine yourself saying this to one of your friends. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend – or at least not in the same way – Don’t say it to yourself. We spend so much time building up our friends, reassuring them that their negative thoughts of themselves are not true, but we never befriend ourselves. God has taught us that kind words give life but harshness crumbles us! The Bible says in Proverbs 15:4 (NIV) 4 The soothing tongue is a tree of life but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
- CHECK YOUR VANTAGE POINT – Ever seen the movie Vantage Point?? The short of it is there is a major event that takes place in a city, but the event is recounted by individuals who witnessed it from different places – so they each have a different perspective of what really happened. So apply that to your own thoughts, if this were someone else’s issue – how would you perceive it? Would it be a big deal if it wasn’t your issue? Is it going to be something that will really matter long-term? Does it affect your eternity? Is your problem really that big? Remember, your Father moves mountains! Don’t be paralyzed by something irrelevant or an earthly vantage point. We often get so focused on the small stuff or the things behind us that we can’t even see the path that has been made before us! The Bible says in Colossians 3:2 New International Version (NIV) 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
- ROADBLOCK – This is easier said than done for most of us. But we can come up with little reminders to help us. Imagine a stop sign or take a picture of one on your phone. When you see your thoughts headed in the wrong direction… pull up the image! I encourage you to find something funny to use to block negative thoughts when they start. Think about the YouTube video where Terry in his wheelchair lights the fireworks but can’t move – and his friends are yelling “Reverse, reverse – back it up Terry”! I know that sounds silly but we won’t to reverse those thoughts – stop them in their tracks and back them up! This is most helpful with negative thoughts that we repeat over and over like “I’m so fat” or “I hate my hair.” Pull out the Armor of God and protect yourself! Get those those in line with Gods word. He has equipped us with the tools we need to fight back when we are under attack – use them! The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (NKJV)
- REPLACE BAD THOUGHTS WITH SCRIPTURE – This is one of the most effective ways to overcome a thought that we have allowed to become a true belief. In fact, once we replace a thought with scripture – we can forego all the other steps I’ve mentioned above – because this will do it all. Write down thoughts that plague you day in and day out, put them on a note card and write a Bible verse on the opposite side – MEMORIZE and repeat it when your bad thought creeps in. This is not only encouraging but it’s also accurate. We are called to live by truth and God’s word is the only real truth – everything is just opinions/perspectives. The Bible says in Philippians 4:8 (NKJV) “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”
The #HASHTAGS are just for fun but I honestly included them in hopes that they will float through your mind and help you remember how to stop those nasty thoughts. YOU are a child of God – He wants you to see yourself the way He does. He has defeated the enemy, we only need to stand in the victory! Don’t allow negative thoughts to hold you back and paralyze you in fear or insecurity. The road you are walking is hard but it isn’t impossible! Allow God to define who you are and what you are capable of. He will go before you and light the way – it may not be easy but He will see you through it!