Sunday, May 29, 2011

The power of self talk

Recently, I made a comment to Brian that was meant in jest, but taken quite differently. I said something along the lines of, "Oh, I meant to, but it just slipped my feeble brain." I do this a lot. I have always been a bit of a self-effacing person. I have never been too good at taking compliments, and I have never been good at talking myself up. Quite the opposite, I'm pretty good at telling myself I'm NOT good enough, I'm not smart enough, I will fail again, why even try? Once, someone close to me was telling her husband that she didn't want to get any new pictures of the two of them taken because she was fat and ugly. Her husband told her, "I don't like it when you talk about yourself like that. I would never let anyone say those sorts of things about the woman I love, so I won't let you say those things about you, either." It really hit home with me that he loved her a lot. But interestingly enough, it didn't make me rethink my OWN habit of negative self talk.

It is so easy to fall into the habit, especially for us women. Feeling a little down, or unhappy... it is so easy to verbalize the thoughts of, "I look so fat in this dress." "I forgot to do the dishes, I'm such an idiot." "Oh, I'm so dumb, I can't believe I forgot that again!" These things become part of our vernacular. We get so used to wanting to be humble, meek, liked, and not seem over-confident, we easily fall into the trap of playing down our strengths. What we don't realize is the chasm that builds between our true selves and what we want to portray. Negative self talk also is an obvious slap to God's face, because it is like telling Him that He did a pretty bad job on us!

What we may NOT realize is that our negative self talk tears down not only us, but our families and relationships as well. Tell someone you're stupid enough times, they may just start to believe you. If someone else thinks highly of you, they may just get tired of hearing you talk badly about yourself. After all, they probably wouldn't up with that sort of insulting language ABOUT you, what makes it ok for them to hear it FROM you?

But back to my specific incident. I told Brian that something slipped my "feeble brain." I meant it to be funny. I know I'm not dumb. Apparently, however, he had heard enough of my negative self talk. In a very calm, very level voice, Brian asked me to stop saying things like that because it was upsetting. I sort of blew it off at the time, to be honest. But later, I was mulling it over, and realized how much of a sign of his love that request was. And how could I not honor that? I told him I would stop the negative self talk. I realized also that my negativity would be just the thing to help Gage breed a negative image of himself, which is the polar opposite of what I want for him. I want him to grow up knowing he can be or do anything he sets his mind to. He doesn't need to get mired down in thinking he isn't smart enough for something he dreams of.

You see, our kids are sponges. And it is just as easy to help them learn positive, Godly messages as it is to help them learn that they just aren't good enough, their gifts aren't special enough, they weren't made for that dream. If we just give our thought processes and speech patterns a little tweek, we can fill our children with positivity, optimism, and light. And isn't happiness one of our goals for our children?

Thank you, Brian. For opening my eyes to what self-deprecating humor and fishing for compliments really does to a spouse. And let's face it... if you've ever fished for a compliment, you probably know that the resulting compliment is so not fulfilling. Now, when your husband tells you out of the blue how nice you look, THAT is a good compliment. As a result of all of this, I am on a mission. I want to remove negative self talk from my vocabulary! It isn't cute, humble, or funny. It isn't something that those who love us want to hear. It certainly doesn't breed motivation to fix the things that we really would like to improve. Most of all, it is something that can easily be passed along to our kids in such a way as to stunt their positive self views.

Are you with me? Will you work to cut the negative self talk out of YOUR vocabulary, too?

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