I can be ruthless in the way I speak to and about myself. Flinchingly harsh self-directed comments roll around in my head unbidden and unattended. Sometimes those disparaging thoughts slip right out of my mouth and dribble down my chin. It isn’t until someone says, “Oooo, that’s brutal!” that I even realize just how rude my self-talk is.
From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks!
I recently sat with a multi-generational group of women who had gathered to talk about talk, specifically self talk. It comes as no surprise that the woman eighty decades strong struggled with slanderous self talk as much as the youngest member in our group.
It’s a fact. We talk to ourselves. The harsh conversations in our heads are not only unkind, they are usually oppositional to the Word of God and the Truth that refutes all lies. Much of what loops in my head is slanderous and downright brutal.
- You don’t belong.
- You’ll never be enough.
- There’s something wrong with you.
- You’ll never accomplish anything worthwhile.
- Your too old and fat.
- You’ll never get it right!
- People are tired of you.
- God’s annoyed with you.
My negative, disparaging self talk goes unnoticed most of the time and becomes the shrill background noise of my inner life. These inner conversations can completely undermine my day. They undermine my life.
If I spoke of others the way I speak of myself, I would be friendless and likely hated. I would be alienated and shunned.
What am I doing to myself then? Is it any wonder a girl can crumple under the weight of it?
Imagine everywhere you went, each encounter you had there was somebody verbally accosting you. It begins in the morning when you step out onto the porch to retrieve the newspaper. Your neighbor hollers out, “What a shabby bathrobe you’re wearing.”
You’ve finished your coffee when the phone rings and it’s a friend calling with a list of your flaws, “You laugh too loud and I hate the way you dress…besides that, you’re house is a wreck most of the time.” Her list lengthens and intensifies but you sit voiceless, taking it all in.
Later your husband texts you from work. “Make a decent dinner tonight. I’m tired of the bland meals you cook.”
You make a run to the store to grab ingredients for a more tantalizing dinner and as you push your cart down each isle people glare at you, call you names. Insult you.
The point is, if this happened in real life it wouldn’t be long before we would shrivel up and lose confidence to go after the life God intended us to live. We’d be insecure, incapacitated, and ineffective. We’d become unjustly incarcerated by lying words.
The word corrupting in the above verse reminds me of a computer term. When a file or hard drive becomes corrupted, it cannot be retrieved or utilized. They can become corrupted for many reasons, including but not limited to faulty programming. In a corrupted file or hard drive the data is marred and sometimes unintentionally rewritten. The data is unstable. Unreliable.
Fortunately, we are not like faulty hard drives that end up in a recycle bin due to bad programming. BUT as a result of faulty programming we can become unstable, unreliable and shelved from the lives God purposed for us.
As our Self Talk group prepared to leave, we decided to address first things first in the pursuit of transformed soul talk:
Pray and ask God to increase your awareness of critical self-talk. (Then apologize to yourself!)
Ask God to forgive you for disobedience–for believing your words over His Word, and for slandering His daughter!
Displace those harsh, ugly, defeating lies with truth. Begin with one grace-filled truth about yourself and build a new vocabulary!
Let’s begin a life-affirming, grace-filled, hope-recharging, joy-renewing conversation with ourselves, shall we?