Everyone talks to themselves.
Remember Ralph Kramden from the “Honeymooners”? He was notorious for having conversations with himself that were usually prompted by a fight he’d had with his wife Alice. Before making up, Ralph would always have a complete dialogue with himself, including hand gestures and pleading faces that always made the scene hysterical to watch. Could it be that we laughed because we identified with Ralph - because he mirrored to us the times we’ve had full interchanges with ourselves when dressing for work or standing in front of the mirror?
What Do You Say When You Talk To Yourself?
Talking to ourselves is no big deal - It’s what we are saying that matters.
“The most important conversation in your life is what you say when you talk to yourself.”
What I mean when I say “Talk to yourself”.
When I say “talk to yourself”, I don’t mean chanting a mantra some guru gives a person to repeat, ensuring riches and success. I mean when you look in the mirror, drive in your car, make breakfast, or dig up your garden - what are you saying?
I also don’t mean the self-conversations that are part of our daily rituals, like errands I need to run, who gets picked up when, etc . . . But I mean the conversations you have about your life - Those conversations can have powerful impact one way or another. What you say about yourself can be healing or condemning, hopeful or hopeless, angry or forgiving, open a door to temptation, or closing it. Your own self-words can make or break your day, lead you to focus or become discouraged.
This is why someone once said “Take the initiative in speaking to yourself because if you don’t, SELF will speak back to you and you won’t like what it says”. Our speaking can also be wordless because our minds can process many times faster than our mouths. Is it any wonder why Peter charges us to “gird the loins of your mind”. Think of how much damage can occur in just 15 seconds of harmful mental conversation.
When I was younger, I used to worry about what others said about me, but now I am more concerned about what I say about me. This is why it’s important to run these conversations by someone who loves you because if the only feedback you have is inside your head, than you are in trouble. Have you ever seen someone’s self-talk in the news after they have committed suicide and left a note . . . What would it had been like if they only had someone to help them with the toxic self-talk coming out of their mouths?
Why self-conversations are important.
Self-conversations are important because they tell a lot about where we are.
Lucifer’s conversation with himself showed his lust for power (Isaiah 14:13–14). A rich man’s conversation with himself showed his downfall as greed (Luke 12:16–19). A Persian king’s conversation with himself exposed the hubris of self-sufficiency (Daniel 4:30). A sick women’s self–conversation revealed hope (Matthew 9:21).
Our past experiences can be are a major source of present self-talk.
What are you telling yourself about your life - your past? Someone recently told me that how they viewed their father was far different from how their mother viewed him. This person viewed their father as verbally abusive, never affirming etc. - while their mother saw him as wonderful, warm, and a good provider.
This is telling of how we get so much of our present conversation from our past experiences, and that the longer we live, the more we can revise the past.
My wife’s family dog while growing up was Rex – who was described as a massive, intimidating German Shepherd. When I saw an old, crinkled snapshot of Rex, he looked more like a small scrawny mutt. Then again, this fiction was spun by my wife when she was six. Two people can experience the same event 30 years ago and tell two vastly different accounts. (Just attend an alumni event and you will see what I mean!).
In a negative way, our self-conversation can emanate from past distorted technicolor images and become verbalized into toxic words.
For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.
The only way to change the bad treasure.
Change the conversation. Charles Finney once said that “Only truth can cast out error”.
Our past may blur into an uncertain cataract of blended pictures, but God’s Word never changes. We must therefore store it in our hearts in order to reset our conversation. It’s impossible to deposit the Word in your heart and it not affect your self-talk!
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
In fact the Bible encourages self-talk.
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
“But David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”
1 Samuel 30:6
Listen to what you are saying (for the purpose of changing) and if your words are not life-giving, challenge them. God will correct and convict us, but He will never condemn us or leave us hopeless.