Stop That Negative Self-Talk

Years ago, I went to a counselor because I was depressed. She had me try this exercise. For a period of time, (day, week), write down everything you say to yourself. This was an eye-opening exercise for me. Here are some of the things I was telling myself at that time:

  • “That floor is dirty, you really should mop it.”
  • “If you were a good housekeeper, you would dust more often.”
  • “A good mother should not get upset when her kids do that.”
  • “If I were a better wife, I would make my husband’s favorite dinner.”
  • “I should read my Bible more.”

Gag me. I was shocked when I realized the kind of negative monologue that ran through my head all day long every day. I didn’t need my abuser to say them to me, I was saying them to MYSELF! I was my own worst enemy.

This experience was so powerful for me I wrote about it in my book A Journey to Healing After Emotional Abuse. Here is what I wrote there:

Stop Negative Self-Talk

Chances are good you repeat negative comments to yourself that your abuser or others have said to you. You can train yourself to replace those negative thoughts with positive thoughts.

In the past, did your abuser, or parent or teacher say negative things about you, like you are “stupid,” “don’t do anything right,” “you’re so ugly no one will ever want you,” or other derogatory things about your appearance?

If so, chances are good you have internalized these negative comments without being aware of it. We keep a running commentary in our minds all day long. Try this exercise:

Journal Your Journey

Write down everything you say to yourself over the course of a week. You may be surprised how often you say something negative to yourself. You might be repeating disparaging remarks your abuser used to say. You might also be repeating comments you heard as a child from your parents, teachers, or a bully. It’s extremely important to recognize what you tell yourself regularly.

Once you have a list of negative things you say to yourself, you can begin to substitute new, positive thoughts for your old negative ones. Often negative thoughts start with “I have to . . . ” or “I must . . . ” or “I always/ never . . . ” Be careful to frame the new thoughts in positive language instead of negative; i.e., don’t use “don’t.” For example:

Negative Thoughts      Positive Thoughts

I’m so stupid. . .  I am so smart.

I never do anything right. . . I am capable.

I’m not smart enough to understand. . . Look how much I am learning.

I’m always picking a fight. . . I am a peacemaker.

I have elephant thighs. . . My legs are so strong.

My hair looks like a rat’s nest. . . I love my hair’s natural curl.

I’m so ugly; I’ll never find a mate. . . I am desirable.

Whenever you find yourself thinking one of the old, negative thoughts, purposely speak out loud the new, positive thought instead. You might also like to write the new positive thought. The more methods you use, the more this is likely to sink in. You will find yourself thinking the positive thoughts about yourself more and more, and the negative thoughts will fade over time.

Question: What type of thoughts run through your head?

What wrong beliefs do you have about yourself? Do you think you are worthless? Do you think God is judging you?

We are often harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else. Tweet This

We realize, for example, that God loved the world so much that he came and died, to bring the world closer to him, (John 3:16), and that he did this even before we loved him (Romans 5:8), and that because of what he did, there is now no condemnation for those who follow him, (Romans 8:1). Yes, we may realize this, but somehow we don’t really believe these promises apply to us. Yes, God loves the world unconditionally, but he wants me to do better. Yes, God does not condemn the world, but I feel like he is disappointed in me.

I would love each of you (and me!) to begin to realize how much God loves us, and that because we are made in his image, (Genesis 1:27), we have inherent worth, no matter what we do, and no matter what has been done to us. I recently heard a song by Jordan Feliz that explains this so well. Here is the link on YouTube. Powerful. Here are the lyrics.

Beloved by Jordan Feliz*

Head full of questions, how can you measure up?
To deserve affection to ever be enough
For this existence
When did it get so hard?
Your heart is beating, alive and breathing
And there’s a reason why
You are essential, not accidental
And you should realize

You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Oh, forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
You are beloved

Sometimes a heart can feel like a heavy weight
It pulls you under and you just fall away
Is anybody gonna hear you call?
Oh, oh
But there´s a purpose
Under the surface
And you don´t have to drown
Let me remind you
That love will find you
Let it lift you out

You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
Let it soak into your soul
Oh, forget the lies you heard
Rise above the hurt
And listen to these words
You are beloved
I wanted you to know
You are beloved
You are beloved

Romans 8:38-39 says:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I pray each of us will begin to realize our inherent worth, and how beloved we truly are.



*Written by: COLBY WEDGEWORTH, JORDAN ALEXANDER FELIZ, PAUL T. DUNCAN  Lyrics © MUSIC SERVICES, INC. Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    I am new to your site and have already found much encouragement from your writings.I am not sure if my husband of 20 years plus is abusive. He does not physically harm me. My pastor says that he is manipulative and deceitful. I do find him mean and cruel at times but other times my husband is sweet, bringing me breakfast everyday and taking care of our children when I am out working. He does not work and depends on me financially to attend to all expenses that our family incurs or needs.

    I find him very quarrelsome and argumentative and he must have the last word. He uses up quite a bit of my income each month and I am not sure what or on whom he spends it on. He does not give me an account or explanation on how he uses the funds. My pastor told me to take out a sum of money from my account each month and to save it. I tried it for a couple of months but he got very upset and he takes it on me and the children indirectly by condemning us. He used to kick and hit our little dog and refused to vaccinate her as a result of which she got ill and later died.

    He has a affair earlier this year and when I confronted him he told me he found me unappealing and that he could not bear to come near me. His words keep replaying on my mind now and I feel I must be the ugliest woman alive. He was very involved in porn soon after our marriage and refused counseling. The porn was my fault also for being ugly and not sexy enough for him.

    He does not want a divorce as he says he wants a family. But this is not a family. He is not repentant and is not trying to resolve any issues in the marriage. He has never affirmed me or encouraged me in anything except to do more work and earn more money. I used to be angry with God because he let me marry this man who professed to be a strong godly Christian man but I am over that phase now and am learning to trust God. I feel I am just a money tool for my husband and he keeps using me. I am afraid of my husband as he can get very irrational and angry and emotional when he is confronted with his sins.

    Only my pastor know a little bit of what he is like. I am not sure if leaving is an option for me. Please help


    • Dear Sarah,

      I am so saddened by the state of your marriage. I would say, yes, he is abusive, and yes, you could leave him. What you describe is not a marriage. It sounds like hell. Please friend me on Facebook (you can do that from my home page), then Facebook message me. Or, email me via my contact page. We can talk privately and I can help you walk through this. Bless you, Caroline

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