We have all been there. In the downward spiral of self-talk. Maybe it begins with a hurt from another, disappointment in ourselves, unforeseen life circumstances, or fear of the future. Before we know it, we are there. We have mentally talked ourselves into the miry pit of “what if” and “if only.” At times we don’t even realize it’s happened or how we ended up there. We look up and realize we are bogged down by some hypothetical false reality ruling the day.
For years, I found myself traveling down this destructive imaginary path again and again. I would begin by mentally navigating a situation, past or present, whether it be difficult or devastating. Then in a nanosecond I had traveled from what was reality into the middle of an elaborate made up “what if” scenario. At times, my self-talk journey drove me years down the road, to an imaginary place of isolation, living on a hypothetical sidewalk of suffering and sadness. This mental battle would leave me…well…entangled in a mess of emotional lies. Living from a false reality.
Friends, we do not have to live walking down that same sidewalk of lies that leads to imaginary desolation. We have options. Healthy ways of winning the worry battle! Tools for releasing the unhelpful self-talk and trading it in for the freedom that is found in Jesus.
If this recovering over-thinker can conquer, then sister, there is hope for us all!
God cares so deeply about us and desires for us to know the truth and be set free by it.
- Free from bitterness.
- Free from our past.
- Free from addiction.
- Free from fear.
- Free from lies that the enemy relentlessly throws at us.
- Free from the despair of disappointment.
- Free from unmet expectations.
And yes, free from the anxiety-wrought downward spiral of our own self-talk.
Here is a little something I learned from Beth Moore:
“We can’t change the way we feel BUT we can change the way we think which CAN change the way we feel.”Beth Moore
For real! Hallelujah there is hope!
So how do we change the way we think???
God has given us truth to hold on to.
Words to reorient our mind.
Transforming our soul.
Take heart my fellow feelers and over-thinkers!
God gave us Philippians 4!
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:8-9
There is some serious mental health help for us in Philippians chapter four that equips us to stay on top of our anxiety by slaying our self talk.
God’s word offers us something much more powerful than mere positive thinking. We find five transforming practices that can have far greater returns for our mental and emotional well being.
So here is the deal, these principals have been so life transforming for me that I want us to take our time to thoroughly digest them. Are you with me? Ok, thanks! I am going to unpack just three of these practices here and now. Then, in the very next post, I will offer up the next two. Overachievers, just breathe (wink).
1. Identify the Lie
First and foremost, God’s word tells us to think about what is TRUE. Just because we feel something doesn’t mean it’s true. Hello. Did you hear that? JUST BECAUSE WE FEEL SOMETHING DOESN’T MEAN IT IS TRUE. I don’t know about you, but I need a moment of silence!
Side note: Feelings are real and normal and instilled in us by God Himself. Like the rest of our personhood, emotions have been entrusted to us by God, and He wants them to bring good, not harm to us and others.
Back to that spiraling self talk…
So then we must ask, What is true? Are my thoughts the truth? Are my fears the truth? Are my worries the truth? Maybe an action or circumstance is true, but remember “what ifs”… Are. Not. Truth. We do not have to live in the extrapolated land of what if, nor wallow in a pit of despair that has not even happened. Therefore, we need to examine our thoughts.
We can train ourselves to ask two questions…
“What am I telling myself right now?”
“Is it truth?”
…whatever is true… think on these things.Philippians 4:8
Therefore, whatever thoughts are not true, should be called out and dealt with as a lie.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss’sLies Women Believe was pivotal in pulling back the curtain on my thought life. God used this book to highlight some of the lies I was believing and set me free from them. This is one of my top three must reads for any female I love, mentor, or gave birth to!
Some lies become obvious when we stop for a hot minute to listen to our own narratives. And question them. We can clearly identify the falsehood in our thoughts. Then deal with them appropriately (more on that later).
Other lies are not so obvious.
2. Know the Truth
The truth is…we don’t always know what the truth is. Part of identifying the lie is knowing the truth. It’s that age-old example of how to tell a genuine dollar bill from a counterfeit. We will need to study the real thing in order to recognize the fake thing.
In Nancy’s book, she offers not just insight into common lies we all believe, but she then provides God’s truth that sets us free from those lies.
Among the sea of so many voices, God longs for us to hear His voice.
We can never know the will of God if we don’t know the Word of God.
Reading and thinking on God’s Word plants truth deep into our hearts, allowing us to recognize God and His voice when the self-talk starts spiraling.
Regularly seeking God by reading His Word and asking Him to change us, WILL transform our minds.
Amazingly, when we are able to discern the truth from a lie, we are much more inclined to follow God down the path of freedom.
The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.John 10:3
3. Replace the Lie with God’s Truth
When I worry about the future (which has not even happened), I’m not thinking on “these things” that God tells us in Philippians 4. In fact, just before those instructions on thinking, we are told this…
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.Philippians 4:6
Lies are like weeds. You can identify them. Pull them up. And somehow they grow back.
Once we begin recognizing the lie, we then need to yank that sucker out of the soil of our souls AND replace it with the truth. We can only choke out the toxic lies in our minds by allowing God’s truth to take over.
Knowing God and His Word allows us to recognize a lie. Toss it out. Then grasp onto TRUTH. Plant it into our hearts. Which will reorient our minds, setting our emotions in balance.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:2
So, I need to keep that unhealthy self-talk in its proper place—kicked to the curb—and take the next step of healthy thinking. Read part two of Slaying the Self-talk very soon.