Finding Freedom: Part 1 – The Toxic Mental Chatter
September 7, 2011: I sat on a park bench, sobbing out my story to a dear friend of mine who had agreed to meet with me during her lunch break from work. As we sat there I confessed to her that, ever since my shoulder surgery a few weeks before, I had been absolutely plagued with negative, toxic thoughts. Phrases like “You are worthless” and “You are not worth protecting” and “Things will never get better” and “Life is not worth living” were buffeting my mind on a constant basis. I felt like I was in a literal fight for my life. While the real me— the joyful, positive, quick-to-forgive, grateful, faith-filled me— was resisting those messages and trying to read my Bible and remind myself of all the ways my life was a gift and that it mattered, the strength of those dark messages was beginning to terrify me. Because they really truly FELT SO TRUE.
Something was wrong. I needed help. A couple weeks after crying on the park bench, I was finally able to meet with a professional counselor to help me sift through all the toxic mental chatter I was struggling with.
What you’re about to read is the fruit of some of those sessions with that counselor.
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You know those self-deprecating messages that are constantly plaguing you, whispering in the back of your mind that “you aren’t good enough,” that “you are a failure,” that “it is hopeless,” that “you are ugly,” that “no one wants to hear what you have to say,” that “you are a horrible mom,” etc? Or how about this one: “you don’t have what it takes”…? Does any of that sound familiar to you?
Have you ever had thoughts like that float into your mind? I have a sneaky suspicion that I am not alone in the fact that negative self-talk like that is often the tape reel assaulting my mind on a regular basis.
In fact, about five years ago, despite the fact that I was wholeheartedly seeking God, I was so tormented by those types of thoughts that I literally could not tell the difference between what was or was not true.
And, unfortunately for me, I have found that messages like those listed above end up shouting so loud that they keep me quiet; they convince me to hold back in certain areas of my life; and they cause me to live in fear and shame and anger and hopelessness— or just plain paralyzed confusion.
No matter how pure our past is, no matter how optimistic and positive we are, or how much we love God— the fact of the matter is that there is a battle going on in our minds all of the time. There are lies and defeating, limiting self-talk coming at all of us on a frequent if not constant basis. Our minds truly are battlefields.
But do you know what else I’ve discovered? As much as there is always a battle going on in my mind, with opposing forces vying for my attention and subservience, there is also always truth, freedom, and healing at-the-ready for me to grab hold of.
And— even if you’ve never done it before, or if you feel like you’re in a state of hopeless desperation (like I once was)— it is actually possible to learn how to tune into those gems of truth, freedom, and healing so that you can live free to be your true, beautifully made, God-crafted, uniquely valuable self!
Join me for a five-part series unpacking the process of learning how to tune into what our good, truth-telling God wants to say to us about the messages we hear in our minds. Because I can assure you, from my own personal experience and from the countless stories of friends and acquaintances I’ve met along my journey, it is possible to break free from those lies that our enemy Satan is whispering (or shouting!) to us in his efforts to get our lives off-course or stagnant.
Let’s do this: Over the next week or two, Let’s find greater levels of freedom and joy and peace as we take the time to reflect on the power our thought lives have on our “real lives.”
Please join me here again in the next few days as I begin to share personal stories and more about the “how to’s” of tuning into God’s voice of truth.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
[This is Part 1 of a five-part series unpacking the process of learning how to tune into what our good, truth-telling God wants to say to us about the (sometimes toxic) messages we hear in our minds. Click here to get to the landing page with links to each post for this series.]
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What about you?
In what ways do you find yourself getting derailed, discouraged, distracted, or confused by some kind of “inner critic”? Have you ever wished you could learn what God has to say about your thought life?
Please share your journey with me in the comment section below.