Self talk. It is the idea of hosting an internal (or sometimes external) monologue – debates, statements, questions, complaints – all for the only member of the audience, you. Cognitive psychologists have studied this concept of intrapersonal communication for decades, examining the impact of cognitions on behavior and emotion. Many theorists even believe that mental illness is the result of distorted cognitions. Founding cognitive psychologist Aaron Beck would propose that distorted thoughts are not just the symptom of a problem, but the cause of the problem.
For example, I meet with people suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other psychological ailment from the vast array of mental illnesses and disorders. Upon examination, it is continually revealed that clearly inaccurate thoughts are being entertained or believed in the minds of those I sit with. An anxious woman states, “I can’t go out in public, everyone will laugh at me!” A depressed man sadly admits, “Everything I do is a total failure. I can’t do anything right.” A teenager confesses guiltily, “I am unlovable, so I have to cut myself.” The anorexic discloses, “I am fat and worthless.” On and on the negative thoughts proceed in a seemingly never-ending monologue of LIES. These thoughts are absolutely false. But to those who believe them, to those who allow them and entertain them, they are the truth! Because of this, a large part of my work involves helping people identify and evaluate their automatic thoughts and by doing so; assist them to think more accurately and truthfully. As a result, they feel better emotionally and behave differently. I have seen time after time that when people change their beliefs about themselves, others, and their world, genuine healthy change can occur.
We all do it
We may have never recognized it, but we all are involved in communicating with ourselves. Our minds produce thoughts, which are interpreted into words, which we end up hearing in our own voices. So what is it that we fill our minds with? What do our internal voices say to us?
The power of our thoughts can hold us captive, rob us of our joy, and destroy the very freedom Christ paid for us to live in. Our self-talk – what we tell ourselves – can fatefully become truth. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a belief that comes true because we act as if it is already real, whether we intentionally mean to or not! This occurs because of the positive feedback between our beliefs and our behavior.
The power of our thoughts can hold us captive, rob us of our joy, and destroy the very freedom Christ paid for us to live in.
What we think shapes how we feel, which determines how we act, which becomes who we are. To illustrate this point, I will share an idea I once heard in a sermon. Let’s pretend that a poisonous rattlesnake just slithered into the room under your feet as you sit reading this. How do you feel? Scared? Nervous? Nauseous? Are you slowly beginning to lift your feet off the ground? Is your heart rate increasing? Are you reaching for the nearest lamp stand that doubles as a lethal weapon? Did you just Google “DIY snakeskin purse”? Now, in reality, there is in fact no rattlesnake under your feet (I hope)! But if you truly believed that thought, you would begin to feel, think, and behave in very specific ways that align with that belief. My question is, if we, as precious children of the Most High, truly believed what the Bible says, how would we behave? What would we feel about the world and about ourselves? If you lined up the thoughts in your head with what the Bible actually says, would you find a little discrepancy? A lot?
Regardless of how large or small the differential, there is no room for ANY discrepancies. We simply cannot afford to entertain or allow a thought to exist in our minds that God doesn’t agree with or affirm as truth! We cannot allow any “rattlesnake truths” to slither through our thoughts, unnoticed or unquestioned, creating strongholds that spiritually hinder us! We must train our minds to think on things that are TRUE. We ought to discipline the way we speak to ourselves. Why? Because what we believe has tremendous implications for our personal well-being. But don’t just take my (or Aaron Beck’s) word for it! The Bible also emphasizes the importance of our thoughts.
We simply cannot afford to entertain or allow a thought to exist in our minds that God doesn’t agree with or affirm as truth!
Take the words of Paul in Philippians 4:8-9: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely… THINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS.” (Emphasis mine). Scripture teaches that what we think upon is a powerful basis of our spiritual nature. Romans 8:5 says, “those who live according to the sinful nature have their MINDS SET on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their MINDS SET on what the Spirit desires.” We are taught to reject unrighteous thoughts (Isaiah 55:7) and seek a renewing of our mind according to Ephesians 4:22-25, “to be made new in the attitude of your minds.” Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND!” We are called to replace unrighteous, negative, distorted thinking with righteous thinking based on biblical truth. This transforms us more into the likeness of Christ and empowers us to walk in the calling we have received for His kingdom.
This transforms us more into the likeness of Christ and empowers us to walk in the calling we have received for His kingdom.
So what is truth? What should we meditate upon and renew our minds with?
It’s the Gospel. It’s the story of Christ and His reckless love for us. It’s redemption and salvation and what it means to truly be alive. It is who Christ says we are, not what culture or friends or media may say we are! These things are true. These things are light. These are neural pathways we must pioneer and embed so deep within our conscious that they transform the way we think. Which, in turn, will transform the way we live. A gospel-focused mind can effectively take every “rattlesnake” thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Here. This place. This is a platform for all to see what the Gospel looks like to individuals who want a voice – not for personal gain, but for His gain. May this be a place of light. A place to find truths in the Gospel that will change lives. A place where, if in need of support, we can empathize and normalize your journey of preaching the Gospel to yourself, everyday.
Did you like today’s post? Be sure to subscribe to our email list for exclusive access to new posts, newsletters, and even special articles not posted on our website!