I used to think that positive affirmations and belief statements and talking to yourself were for people who rode on unicorns and slid down rainbows. Part of me thought it might be really neat to slide down a rainbow, but part of me also thought that those people were pretty weird.
Furthermore, the people that usually end up in a padded room somewhere who eat soft foods for the rest of their lives are the kinds of people that talk to themselves (and think that they can slide down rainbows), right?
Not so fast my friends. I’m learning the power of talking to myself over listening to myself, and I’m telling you, I haven’t ridden on any unicorns yet, but this stuff is working.
For some reason, we are okay listening to the lies that live inside of us, rather than abiding in the truth. The truth of who God says we are, the truth of what we are capable of becoming, and the encouragement of who we can be if we will commit to it.
Many, many times, when I find myself in challenging or uncertain situations, whether that has been in sports, work, or life in general, that inner voice starts to speak to me. This is where the listening comes in:
“you can’t do that”
“what are you doing”
“remember what happened last time”
“why would they choose you”
“there is a lot riding on this”
“if you mess this up…”
I hope it’s not just me, because if so, I may indeed end up in a padded room one day, but this happens frequently. Call it what you want, self doubt, lack of confidence, “reality”, but there is a voice that pops up that is discouraging, questioning, and full of lies. Sometimes it hides being the mask of being reasonable, of being safe, of being responsible, of reality. It reminds of us our failures, and tells us what we CAN’T do, points out our shortcomings, and forces us to focus on the results first and foremost.
And we have to fight this. We have to weaken the voice we are listening to and strengthen and increase the positivity and truths that we speak to ourselves. But one thing we must do first, I believe, is to quit beating ourselves. We have to quit lying to ourselves, find the truths that exist and start to abide in those things.
I remember when I was in high school, and my junior year rolled around, and the time came for the scholarship discussions to begin amongst the athletes. One day we were all standing around and one of my friends said something like, “Hendley’s going DI”. And someone else responded, “More like D7”.
To be clear, there is no D7. He was just making the point that I wasn’t going to get a scholarship and that I was going to play at the lowest level possible. I wanted to fight the guy. I’m sure I had some kind of smart remark that showed how incredulous I was that he would suggest something like that.
However, the truth is, that I didn’t believe I was going to get a Division I scholarship because I didn’t believe I was a Division I player. I didn’t believe in myself, but I wanted to get mad when someone else didn’t believe in me. I listened to myself all the time, talk about how others were better than me, or I couldn’t do this and I couldn’t do that, and it absolutely affected my ability to be successful as a high school and college athlete.
Recently, I’ve created a list of beliefs, recorded them, and put them to some instrumental music, and I keep it on my phone. Call the crazy police if you want, but it’s legit. I had my doubts, and it felt a little weird. But I’ve decided that if you want to be different, you have to be different.
This exercise has down two things for me:
1) The voice that I hear now (most of the time) is a positive one. And, not only that, but it’s actually MY voice. So it’s great to write down what you believe, but it’s another level to hear yourself speak positive reinforcement, to yourself.
2) It’s allowed me to abide more in truth and encouragement than negativity and judgment, even though much of that negativity is of my own doing. So I’m abiding more in truth of who I am and who I am committed to becoming, than the lies that we like to tell ourselves. I’m putting good stuff in more often, so good stuff can come out more often.
And, I think it’s working.
Think about the lies that you tell yourself. You may not even know anymore. The danger is, that if you lie to yourself enough, then you start to believe them.
And we can never become who we have been designed to be if we are constantly listening to and believing in the lies, rather than building ourselves up with the truth.
Abide in truth. Think about what is TRUE, and what you really NEED to hear. Don’t be afraid to talk to yourself. Despite what you may have previously believed, It’s good for you.