The Power of Self-Talk

Recently I was reminded of an exchange I had with one of my sisters a couple of years ago. I was sharing a personal struggle with weight and how guilty I felt about myself. She immediately corrected me with the truth. That revelation totally set me free to look at myself differently. Have you heard the phrase, “a self-fulfilling prophecy”? It is defined as “Any positive or negative expectation about circumstances, events, or people that may affect a person’s behavior in a manner that causes those expectations to be fulfilled.” What we believe about ourselves, whether it’s our thought, or someone else’s, has power over our lives. In my case, I believed the lie and talked myself into it.

I have two life stories that might help to illustrate the importance of uncovering the lies that can shape what we think about ourselves and what we “believe” others think of us.

“Maybe we should look at the Chubbettes?”

I was born prematurely in 1950 and was a very sickly child. I battled asthma all my life until about college-age and finally outgrew it. When I was about 8, I began to really put on weight. I struggled all through my pre-teen and teenage years. As the years progressed it was getting harder to find clothes that fit my short stature. I will never forget my shame and mortification when we were shopping for school clothes and my mother suggested we look at Chubbettes. I broke down in tears, begging her to buy the bigger size instead. Bless her, she did and had a seamstress shorten dresses and pants.

I remember brothers chanting, “Fatty, fatty two-by-four can’t get through the bathroom door.” and lectures from my parents about not having dessert and exercising more. I remember sneaking into the cupboard for cookies and into the freezer for coffee cake that I hid in the garage. You see, I believed the lie and began to agree with it by making poor choices. It wasn’t until I was in my ’60s and discussing my battle with my sister when she burst out with, “Mary, it was the steroids! It wasn’t your fault! Mom and Dad probably didn’t realize it either.” That revelation set me free from a lifetime of deprecating and depressing self-talk. The lie no longer had its grip on me.

Hey, Bubbles!

I adored my Uncle Ray — so tall, handsome, and funny. I think he kind of liked me too. Whenever he saw me, he always called me, “Bubbles”. It was his way of getting my attention. It always made me cringe–just one more person remarking on my weight. I’d smile bravely, but inside I dropped to the floor. It wasn’t until decades later at a family gathering when he greeted me with “Hey, Bubbles!” that I got the nerve to tell him that “Bubbles” hurt my feelings. You should have seen his shocked expression as he replied with, “But, Mary, I NEVER meant that to hurt you. I was talking about your personality.”

Self-Talk Has Power

I have learned the impact of having negative thoughts about myself. I have also learned how important it is to speak the truth in love. Our words have power to cause a self-fulfilling prophecy in someone’s life. A child needs love, encouragement, and strengthening to make good choices. But so do we adults… everyone does, no matter the age. Ever since I’ve understood the destructive power of believing a lie, my ears perk up when I hear it in someone else’s conversation. I’ve become bold in calling it out.

What lie are you believing?

Nana’s Nudge: Catch the negative and release the positive.
Nana’s Song: Known by Tauren Wells
Nana’s Prayer: Father, help us to seek Your truth about You, ourselves and others. Help us to hear and comprehend what You are saying about us and give us grace to believe it!

Tough Love

Yesterday was a very special day for me.  After a three-week “doggy boot camp”, I had the joy of bringing home our rescue pup, Wellington. The decision to “lock him up and give away the key” was very hard. We’d let him get away with too much and he was ruling the household. We had to hike over gates countless times a day and the nipping was beginning to scare us with 6 grandchildren. We called our vet, looked up their suggestions, and made a decision. I prayed and spoke soothing words all the way there 3 weeks ago as he shook and whined. I cried most of the way home. He celebrated his first birthday while at camp… and to tell you the truth, I sat down and balled that morning, thinking of him on top of missing unreconciled dear ones.  I had to “trust” our decision and let him go to the experts and I reaffirmed my trust in a loving Father for my dear ones.

Parents are letting their children go these weeks — some to their first day of preschool, the first year of high school, or maybe a distant college campus. The school year has begun. Moms and Dads are hoping for the best teachers, praying for kind friends, believing their school choices will reinforce their home values and prepare them for a purpose, a destiny that awaits every living soul.

My tuckered-out, precious Wellington is finally home.

I spent an hour with the trainer learning commands and how to correct. It was tense, but I was successful. He’s on a literal “short leash” for awhile so we can practice what he’s learned. There was one technique that really spoke to me. My commands are given only once. Further “encouragements” to do as I say are with a verbal “uh-uh” getting louder if he doesn’t respond with a quick snap of the leash. I am NEVER to use his name in a command. Wellington’s name is always positive and used to praise with success. I laughed. I SO remember my mother’s “Mary Elizabeth Best!” I KNEW I was in trouble when I heard my full name. Never did like “Mary” until I was much, much older. Funny that.

So what’s my point today? Sometimes those we love need to learn who’s boss. Sometimes they need boundaries. Sometimes we need to be better at our job of parenting. Sometimes we just need to let go and trust. But — and it’s a BIG BUT — we never, ever stop praying for the best, believing and trusting that all will be well… especially when we partner with God.

Nana’s Nudge: Who do you need to let go and trust God? What are the boundaries you need to set? How can you reinforce them?
Nana’s Song: That’s What Faith Can Do | Trust In You
Nana’s Prayer: Father, I ask Your blessing over our children as they return to school. Protect them as You watch over them. Prepare them for the destiny written in their book (Ps 139:13-19). Help me to mentor, to encourage, and to reinforce excellence in all they do. May they become more like Your Son, Jesus.