During a recent course I took on counseling, my classmates and I were exploring the topic of negative self-talk, and it quickly became obvious this bad habit had served as a damper to success, suffocated great ideas right at the start, and influenced reactions and perceptions about situations in each of our lives.
Negativity, ranging from regret over lost opportunities to bitterness, comparing unfavorably with others, jealousy, to little phrases like, “Oh, how clumsy I am,” “How could I be that dumb?” or “How could anyone like me?” seems all too common Even my classmates who described themselves as generally positive admitted to regularly entertaining the habit.
I decided to embark on changing the way I think and made an effort to tune in to the messages that go through my mind. These are some of the strategies I have been learning about and trying to implement:
- When a negative message pops up, replace it with a positive one. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”1
- When faced with an obstacle or bad news, pray for a solution and imagine the good that God can bring to pass even out of a messy situation. “All things work together for good to those who love God.”2
- When things seem to go all wrong remind yourself that, no matter how small, there is always a ray of hope in each situation and a light at the end of every tunnel. “I may have fallen, but I will get up; I may be sitting in the dark, but the Lord is my light.”3
- When going to sleep or doing exercises, instead of wandering off into negative self-talk, count your blessings and meditate on all the things in your life that have worked out. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”4
- When you’re feeling overwhelmed, fill your mind with thoughts of God’s goodness and love toward you. “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”5
Even though progress may be slow at times, each step gets me closer to my goal, and I am already catching glimpses of “the new me.”