Our pastor Father Winslow once told a story once about the time his friend visited a monastery. The man had been discerning a vocation as a monk, so he went to live with the monks for awhile. It reminds me of P.J. Funnybunny who decided to be a bear, so he went to live with the bears. And then he decided to be a skunk, so he went to live with the skunks.
Well, when the man returned home, Fr. Winslow asked him about his visit. He said that he enjoyed the experience and one thing really struck him in particular. “What was that?” asked Fr. Winslow. “Well,” said the man, “there was a mirror in the bathroom over the sink. But covering the mirror was a piece of paper, so that every time you wanted to see yourself in the mirror, you had to lift the paper to see your image.”
On the paper were the words from 1 Samuel 16:7 – “For the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
The monks at this monastery knew that we are tempted to pride when we look good, and that we are tempted to despair when we don’t look the way we think we should look. Neither of these things are from God. But if positive self-talk can lead us to pride, and negative self-talk can lead us to despair, what should we do?
Now, these words and this story are dear to my heart these days, as cystic acne, redness, and scarring often cover my face. But it got me thinking about how we really are our own worst critic sometimes.
In fact, no one actually talks to me to my face as inconsiderately as the awful voice in my head. Is it my nemesis? My alter ego? The devil himself? I know this much: negative self-talk can be silenced.
How do I know? Because I’ve learned how to turn it off. And you deserve peace of mind and freedom from this voice, too. So keep reading.
Here are 3 ways to snap yourself out of negative self talk:
1. Cover your mirrors and give your worldly image to God.
Okay, so I’m saying cover your mirrors as a metaphor here. You don’t have to go cover the mirrors in your home (though you could!). What I mean is, cover the worldly mirrors that bounce your own image back to you in your heart.
In other words, when people insult you, or when you perceive they insult you, give it directly to God. When people compliment you, or when you think highly of yourself, give it directly to God. When you see your own image in the mirror staring back at you, give it to God.
There is nothing wrong with acknowledging your weaknesses and there’s also nothing wrong with acknowledging your strengths, talents, beauty, and gifts! But when we give all of the criticism and all of the praise we receive to God, we can “cover the mirrors” showing us the world’s image of who we are. And we can then ask God to show us our true reflection. We can ask God to show us the truth of who we are as His son or daughter. And we can ask God to make us into a reflection of Him.
The real beauty here is that we are created in His image. So the more we truly seek to align our view of ourselves with God’s view of us, and the more we ask Him to make us into a reflection of Him, the more we will radiate His love into the world.
2. Shift your focus outward.
Whenever I start hearing the “woe is me” monologue go off in my head, it’s a good idea to direct my focus outward. Who can I serve right in front of me? What people and needs are near me at that moment that I can meet with kindness and compassion?
By being intentional about shifting my focus to serving my husband, children, or friends, I distract the evil narration in my mind and move on to something healthier.
Take a moment to listen to others, look them in the eye, and let them know they are loved.
3. Gratefulness – to infinity and beyond!
And finally, guys, the BEST way to snap yourself out of negative self-talk is to be grateful for absolutely everything you do have in life!
Grab a journal or the notes app on your phone. Make a list of all your needs starting with food, water, and shelter. Then check off every need that is currently being met. Then create your litany of gratefulness: “I am grateful for X, and Y, and Z!”
What else do you do to snap yourself out of negative self-talk? I’d love to know!