Addressing negative self-talk
Negative self-talk comes to thought aggressively, suggesting we are inadequate. But we can counter it with the spiritual truth that we are made in the image of God, divine Mind, and therefore hear and respond only to His thoughts.
As I walked north next to a railroad track, the uninvited words “You know nothing” intruded hard into my thought like a train coming out of nowhere. I paused, stood still for a moment, and then as if arriving on the tracks from the other direction another thought came to mind: “I know something of You, God, and You know everything of me. That is enough.”
This sequence of thoughts was illustrative to me. Negative self-talk often slams into our thinking and speaks unwanted messages to us. Sometimes it is tied to a situation in which we feel as though we could have done better, and other times (like for me that day) it is invasive but unattached to any particular circumstances. In either case, the question is: What can we do about it?
Part of the answer to silencing negative self-talk is not to internalize or agree to the suggestion that we are the source of self-deteriorative thoughts, because they are no part of our God-created spiritual individuality. Rather, we can separate these thoughts from ourselves and see them for what they are – erroneous intrusions, falsely suggesting that we have a self apart from divine Life, God, that can talk us down. This discouraging mental chatter feels personal, but the truth is, it’s not. It is an imposition on us and not something of our own creating, nor something that has the power to separate us from an awareness of our spiritual identity.
When negative self-talk is barging into thinking, it also helps to remember the account in Scripture where Moses asks God His name and the answer is: “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). With a thought like “I am incompetent,” for example, it’s appropriate to ask in prayer, Is this statement true about the I AM, God? The thought, “I AM incompetent” is certainly never something the divine Mind could or would think about itself.
The Bible’s first chapter, Genesis, states that we are created in God’s image (see Genesis 1:26). If a statement is not true about God, it cannot be true about His image either. From that place of establishing in prayer what is true about God, we have a foundation for recognizing what is true about ourselves, and what is not. We do this, day by day, by growing in our understanding of Spirit, God, and listening for the truth about who and what we are spiritually.
The Apostle Paul said that we “have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16). And Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, wrote of man that he has “no separate mind from God” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 475).
We can recognize the true, divine voice in our thinking because it consistently speaks to us the truth about God and about us. In Scripture there is a passage where God is speaking and says, “My thoughts are not your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8). Like with my experience by the railroad tracks, I find it helpful when a negative thought comes to ask in prayer, “Is this a God-thought?” If the thought is deteriorative and not from God, we can seek to set it aside by asking God to remove it from us through His truth. Then we can give it no more place in thought.
I saw a bumper sticker once that said, “Don’t believe everything you think.” We are empowered by God to recognize self-deprecating thoughts that do not have a divine source, and to reject and discard them as impostors not having an origin in us or power over us. The foundation for seeing ourselves clearly is to understand that true consciousness is inseparable from its source in divine Mind. What a sweet difference-maker that is.