It all began early one morning as I wiped the sleep from my eyes.
As the brain fuzz cleared, I was bombarded with a deluge of unexpected, unwanted quandaries and problems. Before my feet even hit the floor, I had scolded myself about the poor parenting job I was doing with my teenage son and had questioned whether my toddler was getting enough attention.
I hadn’t intended to start my day with these thoughts. What happened? I wondered. Dragging myself to the kitchen to fix breakfast, I felt the old frustration rising within me. As I toasted some Pop-Tarts and scrambled some eggs, I continued to deliberate. What’s wrong with me?
My oldest son left for school, and I sat at the kitchen table, sipping a cup of hot tea and trying to unknot a big tangle of emotions.
Was my brain simply an involuntary muscle, twitching and cramping, causing me to think on things that were not of my choosing? Why didn’t I have control of the gray matter located beneath my color-treated hair and between my own pierced ears?
I seem to have a secret closet tucked somewhere in the hallways of my mind. A thought closet. And what I had been storing in that closet wasn’t good at all: shelves and racks and bins full of hidden thoughts, secret insecurities, lies, illusions, and reminders of former failures. How did they get there? Why can’t I get rid of them?
Without my consent, my mind keeps reaching into the dark corners of that closet to retrieve the ugly junk I have inadvertently stored away over the years. The boxes have labels like these:
You’re not good enough.
You’re not the wife you could be.
You’re not a good mom.
You should have done a better job.
I realized that if I don’t control my thoughts, my thoughts will control me. And the only way to get any kind of handle on those thoughts is to monitor what I tell myself.
Somehow, I had to stop my mind’s reflex of continually rummaging through those boxes of ugly, ill-fitting thoughts and words. Or maybe I just needed to fill my closet with some more appealing, better-fitting self talk!
The thoughts that run through our minds become the inventory we store away in our closets. And out of that inventory we daily draw truth or error—powerful, life-shaping beliefs that go on to influence both our feelings and our actions. And the reality is, once in the closet…forever in the closet.
We grow so accustomed to our own self talk that we don’t even recognize its corrosive nature and the damage we’re inflicting on our own souls. It’s just normal for us.
Normal like cancer.
The truth is, our self talk actually begins to shape the life we live, affecting our very destiny. What you think and say to yourself will impact the music of your life.
Our words are powerful. Especially the words we say to ourselves. That’s why we need to take a peek into our own closets and see what’s lining those shelves.
Once you identify what doesn’t belong in your closet, you can begin to hold thoughts captive at the closet door and relabel what is already stored in there.
At this point, you might be asking if you can get rid of what’s in your thought closet. After asking several experts and really pondering that question, here is my conclusion:
We probably never completely erase old memories, forget old thoughts, or wipe away former self talk. Those things are simply there, and depending on what we do with them, they add or subtract to the quality of our lives. Our closets are permanently lined with all we have placed there, enhancing or corrupting our attitudes and actions.
You can’t remove those hurtful thoughts, words, and memories, but you can drain them of their potential control over you.
Eventually, those old self-talk lies will be so buried under layers of wisely spoken truth that you will be wearing the wardrobe of freedom.
Bring it on.
About the Author: Jennifer Rothschild has written 14 books, including the bestseller Lessons I Learned in the Dark. She’s been featured on Good Morning America and Dr. Phil and is the founder of Fresh Grounded Faith events. Jennifer became blind at age 15 and now helps others live beyond limits. www.JenniferRothschild.com
Adapted from: Me, Myself and Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself. Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Rothschild. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. www.harvesthousepublishers.com. Used by Permission.
Feature image by Tanja Heffner on stocksnap.io CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)