How to Stop Negative Self-Talk

by Debbie W. Wilson

Who hasn’t experienced negative self-talk? Years ago, a knowledgeable guide delighted our group of moms and kids on a fieldtrip to a local historic site. But I sensed her emptiness and wanted to talk to her about the Lord. My conversation didn’t go as I’d hoped.

Accusations pelted me as I drove away, “Why did you say that? You really botched an opportunity. You’re a poor excuse for a Christian.”

Have you ever left a conversation where you wanted to help someone know God better and been besieged by negative thoughts? Or maybe you attended a Bible study and left feeling like you shouldn’t have opened your mouth.

Have you ever wondered what’s up with that?

The Bible says, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephes. 6:12 NIV). We have an enemy who doesn’t want people to know the truth about God. When we try to grow closer to Him or tell others about Him we invite spiritual attacks. This knowledge shouldn’t scare us but prepare us.

Paul told us how to win the battle in our minds: “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5 NIV).

Here are two filters to help you recognize and defeat damaging self-talk.

Know the truth. Those trained to identify counterfeit money study real money. The better we know the truth the quicker we’ll discern lies. God’s Word is truth. Notice the difference between what Satan said to Jesus and what the Father said about Jesus.

Satan: “If you are the Son of God…” The Father: “This is my dearly loved Son.”

Do you know what the Father has said about you? Do you know the truth about how He sees you? When we know the truth we’ll recognize the lies.

Know the Shepherd’s Voice It’s not enough to know what the Bible says. We must know the character of the One who wrote it.

Satan knows the Bible better than we do. He quoted Psalm 91 to tempt Jesus. But Jesus knew Scripture was never intended to tempt, harm, or condemn God’s children. God’s word corrects, comforts, instructs, and strengthens us.

Do you hear a harsh tone when you read the Bible? Are your thoughts condemning and accusing? That is not the voice of our gentle Shepherd. The better we know our shepherd’s voice the quicker we’ll take every thought captive.

The better we know Jesus, the quicker we discern and defeat our enemy.

We must learn to filter our thoughts. Ideas that argue against the truth or don’t line up with our Shepherd’s voice must be captured and made to submit to Him.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (Jn. 10:27 NIV).

debbie wilsonAbout the author: Drawing from her personal walk with Christ, twenty-four years as a Christian counselor, and decades as a Bible teacher, Debbie W. Wilson speaks, coaches, and writes to help others discover relevant faith. She is the author of Little Women, Big God and Give Yourself a Break. She and her husband, Larry, founded Lighthouse Ministries in 1991. Share her journey to refreshing faith at debbieWwilson.com.

Join the conversation: Have you ever engaged in negative self-talk after a conversation or contributing to a group discussion?

Photo by Jurica Koletić on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “How to Stop Negative Self-Talk

  1. There have been many times I wish I would have kept my mouth shut and question why did I say that? One time I was honest with a reply to someone who asked for help with a project. I was saving items for her and meeting with her and I texted her asking how it was going and how many of an item did she want and in trying to help it turned into a “hate” situation. This has eaten away at my heart for several months now.

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    1. Deb, I’m so sorry. It hurts to be misunderstood or turned on. Maybe you’ve done this, but in such situations, I ask God to show me if there is anything I need to confess or do. If He shows me something, I agree with Him and thank Him for His forgiveness and if necessary ask the other person to forgive my lack of tact or whatever I realize I could have done better. Then we need to move on. Continuing to beat ourselves up is exactly what Satan wants us to do to keep us self-focused instead of Savior-focused.

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