“I’ll always be alone.”
“I’m not enough.”
“I’ll never be able to.”
And the list continues…
Have you ever said something like this? Or maybe thought something like this about yourself?
The Bible, in The Message translation, talks about using our “powerful God-tools” to “tear down barriers erected against the truth of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5). One such tool is the power and ability to speak life over ourselves—and in this case, to think and speak the positive instead of the negative. To see ourselves as God sees us, not as the world might.
But how can we win the battle of thinking and speaking rightly about ourselves if we don’t value who we are?
Bob Hoose recently wrote a blog here about a strange, new trend in cyberbullying—where teens cyberbully themselves. According to a story in USA Today, the issue came to light through the tragic story of a 14-year-old girl from Leicestershire, England, who hanged herself after months of online harassment. Investigators later discovered she had essentially bullied herself. She harassed herself for months, engaging in what researchers are calling “digital self-harm.”
This is a new thing, experts say. But while the technology may be new, our inclination to diminish, belittle and even abuse ourselves is certainly not. And that’s particularly true for teens.
We’ve seen more and more evidence that we don’t like ourselves very much these days. Rates of teen depression are rising. Suicide rates among adolescents have skyrocketed. Kids are dealing with all sorts of pressures that their parents and grandparents never envisioned, and our online social worlds often hurt more than help. We hear so much negativity, it’s hard not to internalize it and begin to think, say and even write negative things about ourselves.
All that negative self-talk and thought can be extremely harmful. When negativity begins to take root and win out over the positive, our mouths can give us away as can our fingers on a keyboard.
But it’s not easy to turn away from this negativity.
I have friends and family who have struggled with depression. I have as well. But I came to a breaking point one day: I knew that I needed something to help me overcome my harmful, negative thinking. There wasn’t just one thing that helped turn my attitude around, of course: Depression and mental health are incredibly complex. But one critical practice helped me a lot: biblically-based positive thinking and speaking.
Because I believe that the words in the Bible are true and powerful, I’m a huge advocate for using the truth in the Bible to replace our own negative thoughts and words with God’s positive ones. How can we win the battle of thinking rightly about ourselves if we don’t value who we are? Truth is, we can’t. Not until we learn to see ourselves as loved and valued, the way that Jesus sees us.
We were created to be loved and adored sons and daughters of God, and when we allow our negative thoughts to speak louder than the positive, we’re compromising who we were created to be.
We need to tell ourselves the real truth: we are loved and valued (1 Thessalonians 1:4), and we must believe this so that we can teach our children their self-worth and in turn “love our neighbor as ourselves.”
So, I have a challenge for you, or for those you know who might be struggling with their self-worth: write down all of your negative thoughts and words you sometimes use toward yourself—words that belittle or demean you. Then, find the positive/true counterparts in the Bible, and write those down too—right across from the negative. If you continue to read the positive and true words over yourself—even when you don’t feel like it—I believe that your mind will begin to change. It will help you see yourself as God sees you—as His precious creation.
No good habit is formed overnight, and this is not easy. But it helped me. I’m praying that it may help you, too.