Self-talk is the ongoing conversation we hold with our self in our mind. It includes thoughts about ourselves (“I’m worthless” or “I’m not good at this”) as well as thoughts about our circumstances (“I’ll never get out of this slump” or “This will completely ruin my day”). We all hold these kinds of ongoing conversations with ourselves, and although we might not always be aware of it, these conversations have a significant impact on our mood and our behaviors.
This starts with taking the thoughts we do have and reframing them so that we allow grace for ourselves and have healthy mindsets about challenges. So repeat after me:
If think think this: I can’t do this, it’s too hard.
Think this instead: I can do this by breaking it down into smaller steps.
If you think this: They are doing better than me, I’m a failure.
Think this instead: I admire their success. What can I learn from them?
If you think this: I hate my body and the way that I look.
Think this instead: My appearance does not define my worth. My body lets me do the things I love.
If you think this: I should be further along in my life by now.
Think this instead: I am on my own journey. What can I do today to move closer to my goals?
If you think this: I’m so stupid. I shouldn’t have made that mistake.
Think this instead: I was doing the best I could at the time. What can I do differently in the future?
Long before psychology came around, God said our thoughts determine our feelings and our feelings determine our actions. If we want to change our lives, we have to control the way we think.
In Psalms 42 and 43 (usually associated together), David actually is talking to himself on three separate occasions with the same basic premise. These words were likely written when he was in exile after being banished by the betrayal of his son Absalom. In the context of Psalm 42:5, He is far from home and close to despair so he says to himself:
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” – Psalm 42:5
2 Corinthians 10:5 is the strategy we are given to have victory in this area as Paul says: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
There isn’t a better thing you can do for your mental health and self-talk than to start believing what God says about you. Always remember that you are valuable, significant, forgivable, and loveable. Let God renew your mind (Romans 12:2) because your life is shaped by your thoughts (Proverbs 23:7).
Remember that as you are talking to yourself that you are talking to somebody made in the image of God. Somebody that God loves so deeply that He died for them. Accept the grace and forgiveness that God has already offered you and start believing that what He says about you is true. After all, you are talking to God’s child.