By: Dr. Wesley Northey
Have you ever considered the way you speak to yourself, about yourself, when you’re by yourself? For many years, I was a very harsh personal critic; never meeting my own expectations and feeling like no matter what I did, it was never enough. Like many of us, I was guilty of speaking to myself, like I was my own worst enemy. After a long journey of personal growth and development, I discovered I had to adopt more empowering self-talk; language that consistently reflected my faith and who I believed myself to be
as a child of God. Self-talk is our daily internal dialog. It’s the discourse running through our minds that is continually shaping our beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. New breakthroughs in neuroscience have helped us understand the powerful connection between our thoughts and our brain. The beautiful thing is, these scientific developments support what has already been known through Scripture. In Romans 12:2, we are encouraged to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Empowering self-talk is a practical application of this Biblical principle. When we cultivate a more positive mindset by using our words with intention and purpose, not only are we harnessing the brain’s innate ability to change and adapt (called neuroplasticity), we’re exercising our faith in a new dynamic way. Negative self-talk often increases anxiety and can erode our confidence, self-worth, and overall well-being. It can trigger our
brain’s stress response, releasing hormones like cortisol, which can be harmful if chronic. Breaking this pattern and creating new empowering language habits can be incredibly challenging without a plan though. So, here are two simple but actionable strategies that you can begin putting into practice today:
- Identify and challenge negative beliefs. As you start becoming aware of your daily internal dialogue, you’ll find negative thoughts and words may be more pervasive than you’d expect. If you’re anything like I was, you’ll find it’s happening all the time! Don’t be discouraged. Catch them and recognize how they are influencing you. Ask yourself if they have any validity. More often than not, they are just over-exaggerated complaints and criticisms dragging you down.
- Remove and replace the disempowering words you use with positive affirmations, grounded in truth. They can be short statements like, “I am capable” or “I am blessed.” This will begin activating new neural pathways in your brain. These pathways are reinforced with practice and repetition over time, helping you become more resilient and making it easier for your brain to default to empowered thinking more frequently. If you turn directly to Scripture for replacement statements, like, “…I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalms 139:14) or “… I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Phillipians 4:13) then you can also draw nearer to God’s presence in those all-too common moments of distress.
Proverbs 18:21 reminds us, “the tongue has the power of life and death…” Empowering self-talk not only aligns with biblical principles but is a powerful, scientifically-backed tool that can improve your mental health, enhance your emotional well-being, and strengthen your spirit. It took commitment and discipline for a long time, but I’ve experienced firsthand the transformative power of eliminating negative self-talk and using words of hope, gratitude, and faith regularly instead. I encourage you to start renewing your mind by speaking with more empowering self-talk, my friend. It may just transform your life.