What thoughts spin in your head all day long? What words do you find slipping out of your mouth? Are they uplifting? Or are they negative…
I consider myself a pretty positive person. So when I heard a business group I’m in was doing their book study on “What To Say When You Talk To Yourself,” my gut reaction was to tune out and check back in when they were done. EXCEPT, this is an elite group of people, way high up in my company, that I had promised myself I would stay committed to doing their suggestions and tuning in to their videos. So, I bought the book. I’m not even done with it yet and my life is getting shaken up. My perspectives, how I view my family, how everyone sees me…all swirling around me in my own personal snow globe.
Is it a feel good book? No. Is it written in a captivating way? No. It’s more like a textbook and, boy!, am I learning a lot! The premise of it is, our brain is like a computer, and from the day we are born, it accepts programs that get played over and over. However, these programs don’t have to be true! Our brain just accepts what it’s being told if it’s told often enough, not caring if it’s true or false, positive or negative. For example: as a kid you trip and fall. Someone calls you clumsy. The next few times you trip and fall you think “I’m clumsy.” Now your brain accepts that you are clumsy and tells your body “she’s clumsy.” Thus continuing a negative cycle of being clumsy.
This example may seem like no big deal, but think about what stems from it. The child who thinks they are clumsy, thus acting clumsily, is now self-conscious, possibly teased, and starts growing the negative self-talk: I’m clumsy. I’ll never be a ballerina. I can’t play basketball. No one will dance with me… Again, it’s a simple example, but hopefully you get the picture.
So why has this been rocking my world? Because it has made me evaluate what I say to ME, to my husband, and even to my daughters. Just the other day the kids were having a hard time and I caught myself thinking “well, the day is ruined” and immediately I stopped…and tried rephrasing it into the positive: “this morning has been tough, but I am excited for what is next. The girls are in great moods and I am energized, ready to go.” Did I feel energized and ready to go that second? No, because my brain needs to be convinced after all of the poor programming it’s had these past 31 years. However, I know I took a small step in the right direction to re-programming how I handle difficult situations.
For my daughters (especially my toddler, Meliana), I’ve been focusing on positive affirmations that will lift her up and give her courage to grow into a confident woman. I make a point to say things like “you are such a great big sister, you are so brave, what a great helper, you are so smart…” A parent will never purposely say anything negative to their child, but I caught myself doing it just the other day. I had to send her to her room because she was getting too wound up, which makes her too rough with her baby sister. After several warnings I told her she needed to take a break until she calmed down and could act more gently. While in her room, she started crying. So, we started talking about what had happened and I found myself saying, out loud (and I’m ashamed to admit it), “you just can’t seem to be gentle with your sister.” Negative, false programming going in. Negative actions coming back out. She will never be gentle with her baby sister if I already programmed in her brain that she can’t. And the fact that Meliana already has “I can’t” in her vocabulary breaks my heart…I know who put that idea there. Something we have said to her has been programmed into her brain and made her feel she is not capable. These days I am trying my hardest to reprogram her thinking to prove she IS capable of whatever she sets her mind to. It may be difficult, she may want to quit, but she CAN do it.
Even in the dance classes I teach, my seven and eight year old girls respond “I can’t” when given a new move to practice. Today I even had a three year old say it! I try to reassure them that they take dance class BECAUSE they want to learn more things and BECAUSE they don’t already know everything. Otherwise, they’d have my job! I’m trying to figure out how to get these young girls to realize when they say they can’t, then they won’t…but if they say they can, they EVENTUALLY will!
So what about me, or you, on a personal level?
Just as what I’ve done with my own daughters, our earliest programming, both negative and positive, was put there by our parents, our teachers, people of influence in our young lives. Negative self-talk can be so subtle, you don’t even realize that you’re saying it. How about: I’m just not a morning person, I can’t get anything done in the afternoons, I am not a good sales person, I’m a terrible cook, I can’t do anything right… The list goes on and on, from the obvious to the understated.
The theory of self-talk is to identify the negative things you say to yourself and call it out for what it is. Then flip it around to the positive. Ideally, you will stop your negative self-talk and your brain will accept the new programming, making it convince YOU that you actually are a morning person, you are most productive in the afternoons, you are good at sales, you are an amazing cook, and you do everything right! Yay for positive changes in your life!
For those of you that are slightly uncomfortable with this self-talk mumbo-gumbo, where do you think it actually originated? I’ll give you a hint, this is not a new theory. It is actually FACT presented in the Bible before new any theorists jumped on the bandwagon.
Ephesians 4:29 – “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.”
Colossians 3:2 – “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.”
These are only three examples. But it is enough to prove that self-talk is not a new idea, it’s not hocus pocus, and it’s a problem we’ve been having ever since the fall of man. That means that there is someone, more than just your computer brain, that is whispering negative self-talk on repeat.
You see, at the same time I’ve been reading “What To Say When You Talk To Yourself,” I’ve also been reading “Fervent” by Priscilla Shirer. This devotional is focused on helping you create a strategic battle plan in prayer to fervently, ferociously, attack the devil and pray him away from yourself and your family. While these two books seem to have nothing in common, God has used them to show me how much influence I have given the devil…how much access he has to my brain and my thoughts. He is my enemy. And nothing makes him more mad than to see me succeed, to be loving and patient with my family, building people up instead of tearing them down. What better way for him to tear me down, ruin my legacy, rob me of displaying God’s glory, than by presenting lies as truths, that my brain accepts as truth, and that leaves me in constant discord with those around me, burying me in guilt and shame.
This just got real heavy, didn’t it?
The way my teammates combat negative self-talk with their business and personal lives is to make positive affirmations. More specifically, they will listen to a recording or record their own voices and then listen to it every morning. Guys, I tried…but I got so uncomfortable. The stuff I was trying was too “be at one with the universe” or even “I make my own destiny…” I felt like it wasn’t acknowledging God and His role in our destiny, our blessings, and our success. For instance, there was one that said “I am at the right place, at the right time” and I added “because God put me there.” You get the picture.
But then I discovered Biblical positive affirmations. This is the one I’ve been listening to *almost* every morning. His voice isn’t as soothing as some of the other ones, but he speaks God’s amazing favor over the lives of those listening. There are other ones, too, that are literally declaring the Truth of Scripture. If you type “Biblical positive affirmations” into YouTube, you can find so many, of varying lengths and styles, to choose from.
I need to clarify: these are not magical incantations. You are not going to say these words and then God will grant your wishes. He’s not a genie. I listen to these affirmations solely to provoke ME to action, not Him. He is already active in my life. By listening to my affirmations, I open my heart up to hear His voice, discern how He wants me to move throughout my day. And most importantly, it helps me identify my own negativity, the lies from my enemy, and choose to react more positively. It brings His presence back into focus against the background of my busy life. So don’t expect to listen to some affirmations and automatically have miracles to fall from the sky. Listen to these affirmations and BE the miracle that God uses in your own life and the lives of those around you.
Here’s something to think about: since reading both of these books and listening to my affirmations, I have had the best month ever in my business. No I didn’t twist arms or give into any salesy pushing. New customers and teammates just fell into my lap. I even got a call from the Plexus regional manager for FL, GA, SC and AL congratulating me for being a top enroller in his region. And to think I used to say “I’m not a salesperson.” And you know what? I’m not. But I am a helper. I’m an educator. I am passionate about showing others how to live a healthier lifestyle.
And personally? This month I’ve been more patient and understanding with my children. That means I hardly yell (and believe it or not, this is a huge struggle for me). Just ask my husband. We still bicker, but not nearly as much and not over such frivolous things. Oh, I still need a lot of work. Remember, the devil has been giving me negative programs for YEARS, it’ll take longer than a month to re-program everything. But the important thing is the curtain has been lifted. I see the negativity now and I can squash it before it blooms.
Lord, bless this busyness~ Jenn
PS Both books are linked in the bottom of this page. I seriously recommend reading them BOTH at the same time to see if God speaks to you as He did me!
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