Talking Back to Yourself
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.
~ Psalm 42:5-6a (NIV)
Friend to Friend
Last week, while selecting some avocados in the produce aisle, I heard a loud gasp which caused my attention to be diverted to a woman who had just started an avalanche of sorts over by the oranges. As she restacked the fruit I distinctly heard her mutter, “Stupid girl! How could you be so clumsy?” In that moment I imagined her as a five year old child being berated by her mother, in the same tone, for the same offense.
From an early age, I remember learning that spoken words have power, both to hurt and to heal. My mom taught me to use the words that came out of my mouth with care, particularly when they were directed towards others. What I did not understand then was that the way we talk to ourselves can have just as much power to transform our minds—in both good and bad ways.
In the first testament, the Bible contains an historical timeline of accounts surrounding King David, beginning in his childhood and culminating with his death. David, like you and I, encountered some great highs and some equally low lows. In today’s Scripture, we find David battling with what I believe to be borderline depression. He was tired of being chased by his enemies, tired of being misunderstood, and likely tired of waiting for God’s promises to come to fruition. Can you relate?
Buried in the words of Psalm 42 is a valuable lesson on self-speak that we would do well to put into practice. David knows he’s feeling particularly low. So he wisely acknowledges and labels his feelings. But then David uses the power of his own words to construct a ladder which he uses to climb his downcast spirit out of the pit of despair he’s found himself in.
Here are the four rungs David put in place:
HOPE: He looks his despair squarely between the eyes and directs himself to “Put your hope in God.”
PRAISE: Next David invokes a new (contrary) attitude by saying, “for I will yet praise him.”
AUTHORITY: He reminds himself who his Lord is by identifying Him as, “my Savior and my God.”
RECOLLECTION: Lastly, David takes a decisive walk down memory lane when he declares, “therefore I will remember you”—which I am sure brought him back to thoughts of himself as a boy killing a lion and then the giant, Goliath, and having escaped from the tip of Saul’s spear a time, or three.
Do you feel in a state of despair today? Have you been passively listening to (and agreeing with) all the negative self-talk that comes along with it? Do not lose heart—USE YOUR WORDS! It’s time you quit listening to yourself, and start talking back to yourself instead. Speak out transformative words of hope and praise. Remind yourself aloud who your Lord is and recount the many times He has redeemed your circumstances, been true to His promises, and shown His kindness towards you.
My Creator and my God, You have formed and fashioned my heart (emotions), my mind (thoughts), and my tongue (words). Enable me to apply today’s instruction in a way that will lift up my downcast spirit and allow me to emerge with my eyes fixed firmly on You.
In Your mighty Name, Jesus, I pray,
Now It's Your Turn
David used positive self-speak to transform his downcast heart to an uplifted face. The next time you are faced with an unsettling emotion, name it, and then place your hope firmly in Christ and offer Him words of praise. Declare His authority over your life and your circumstances. Finally, remind yourself of His steadfast love and provision in your past, which will bring you full circle, right back to hope!
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