I swear I have a constant dialogue going on inside my head from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed and sometimes even when I’m sleeping. Throw in constant music stuck in my head and it gets pretty crowded in there rather quickly. It is like a record that just never stops whether I want it to stop or not.
The bad thing about this phenomenon going on in my head is that oftentimes those thoughts that get stuck on the merry-go-round are negative, self-defeating, self-sabatoging, and down right mean. I’m sure you know how that feels. Those nasty thoughts just keep coming on the never-ending conveyor belt and there just doesn’t seem to be a way to make it freakin’ stop.
I have heard it said that the key to this situation is to just not allow those thoughts to take root. You stop them in their tracks and replace them with positive thoughts and truth. I have heard it over and over and over again but for whatever reason it just never really clicked. Maybe there wasn’t musch space left in my head for new concepts. HA!
Not too long ago I was reading the book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure by Martyn Lloyd-Jones and he wrote something that totally and completely resonated with me.
Check out this quote:
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says, “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.
The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: “Why art thou cast down” – what business have you to be disquieted? You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: “Hope thou in God” – instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and What God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.”
I once heard it said that you can stop a bird from landing on your head but you can stop it from building its nest.
You can’t stop many thoughts from ‘landing’ in your mind but you can definitely stop them from ‘building a nest.’
So, what is the difference between LISTENING and TALKING to yourself?
Listening to yourself: You have a constant dialogue throughout the day. Some thoughts are good and some are bad. Listening to yourself allows the poor thoughts to take a root inside your mind. You allow the thoughts to build their nest. It is like listening to a radio. You hear all the reasons to give up. You hear all the reasons you aren’t good enough. You hear them and even on a tiny level you believe them. We hear and listen to the complaints, negativity, self-hatred, etc. and that leads to unhappiness, discontent, depression, lack of productivity, and unfulfilled goal. Then that cycle self-repeats itself.
Talking to yourself: Choosing to feed yourself the positive. You can choose to fuel yourself with Scripture, positive affirmations, or whatever that gives you energy and motivation and hope. This then gives you the power to fulfill your goals and start the cycle in a very positive way.
Do you see the difference?
Even though it makes perfect sense to me I have also learned that talking to myself and not listening to myself is a hard HABIT to break. Just like with nutrition and fitness, learning to change your habits slowly over time is key to sustainable change. So, I am treating this just like I would any other habit. Bit by bit, thought by thought, I will turn that listening into talking. I can’t expect to overhaul my way of thinking in one big step but I can overhaul it bit by bit over time. There is HOPE for a whole new way of thinking.
Are you Listening or Talking to Yourself?