Overcoming Negative Self-Talk
I have a confession to make. I am extremely guilty of something, and it’s probably something that we are all actually guilty of as well: Negative self-talk. Sometimes (actually a lot of times), I find that I internally put myself down, as I wonder why I’m not smarter, prettier, better dressed, wittier, stronger, funnier, or healthier, and the list goes on and on. I torment myself with thoughts like, “How could you screw that up? You’re so dumb,” or “Ew, look at you. That looks disgusting.” I even criticize myself for not being more confident! But it’s no wonder that my self-confidence wavers and dips, when I’m constantly tearing myself down with my own negative self-talk. I would never speak this way to anyone else, so why do I allow myself to speak this way to myself?!
When I first started college, I gained weight. Between adjusting to new classes, navigating new routines, trying to make new friends, and coping with homesickness, I gained weight, plain and simple. It was actually probably a good thing since I had always been pretty scrawny, but at the time, I couldn’t see that. I just saw new curves and softness come onto my body for the first time ever, and it freaked me out. I spent most of my freshman year zig zagging in and out of diets while repeatedly showering my body with insults and hate. After many months of this, I was just exhausted and fed up. I felt terrible about myself and just wanted to be free.
I knew that this negative self-talk was toxic, so over the next few years of my college career, I really worked on building and fortifying my self-esteem. I would post quotes about self-acceptance and self-confidence on the walls of my dorm room. I would force myself to immediately correct my inner monologue whenever I thought horrid things about my appearance or my character. I would remind myself to stand as tall as possible with my shoulders back, no matter how insecure I might have felt that day. Little by little, it all added up and I really did start to feel more comfortable and secure with myself!
What I didn’t realize though, is that self-love is an ongoing journey, not a destination. It takes consistent practice, even when you feel the most confident in yourself. Sometimes, I would let my guard down because I thought my self-esteem was “fixed,” and this deceit created space for my insecurities to creep back in. “Why did you make that comment in this meeting? That sounded stupid.” “Why did you ever buy this skirt? It hugs you in all the wrong places.” “You’re never going to make it.”
Most recently, what’s been effectively helping me is scouring the Bible to read what God says about me and about all of His children. I wrote out the most inspirational passages on sticky notes and posted them in prominent places around my bedroom. There’s one on my nightstand that I see right before I go to sleep that says, “The Lord God is with you. Never should you fear any harm.” The two on my bathroom mirror tell me, “We are God’s handiwork” and “God is within her. She will not fall.” The note on my door reminds me, “God knit together your innermost being. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Perhaps the most important one is on my full-length mirror, which reads, “You are absolutely beautiful. There is no flaw in you.”
God created each and every one of us beautifully and purposefully. He makes no mistakes. He has made us perfect in His image, so how can we possibly criticize that?! When I am at my lowest, these facts bring me instant comfort. As long as I have the Lord on my side, no one else can judge or insult me, especially not myself.