Yesterday I was talking to some friends about the power words have when we speak them over ourselves. When we constantly tell ourselves that we’re old, or fat, or can’t do certain things we begin to believe ourselves and this can have huge repercussions for our mental and spiritual health. We might say or think to ourselves ‘No-one loves me’ or ‘If they knew the real me they would walk away’ or ‘I’m not as good/clever/pretty/funny/thin/confident as they are’ and the power of these statements cannot be underestimated.
My reading this morning was a letter that Paul wrote to a young man called Timothy, in it he says ‘Words are not mere words you know. If they are not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul.’ [2 Tim 2 v 16 MSG] I would suggest that if the words we use, either about others or about ourselves, are negative and uncaring (why is it that we find it much easier to be caring about others and very hard to show ourselves the same kindness?) then these will accumulate like poison – either in the hearts and souls of others or in our own.
We need to start believing good things about ourselves, if you’re a follower of Jesus then that begins with knowing what God says about you. If you’re not then you need to begin by changing your inner voice and the habit of running yourself down. In neither of these cases is it a quick fix, it can years of repeating good things internally and externally to undo the pain and anguish caused by our inner voices. It’s good to tell a friend or therapist that you’re doing this and ask for their help. Because, while that old adage ‘Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you’ is utter rubbish, the one that says ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ really is true! As Matt Haig points out in his excellent ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’, talking is in itself therapy. We can talk ourselves into wellness and give ourselves hope, and with a faith that tells us we were made to be loved and to love others, a faith that gives us hope where there might be none, that, for me, is a definite reason to stay alive.