John 10:10-11 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
The struggles in this life stress our ability to think rationally and clearly. We compound this stress with the cloud of sin, and further add the weight of memories of times that people harmed us or our past failures. We have the thief of an inner negative voice (INV).
Banishing an inner negative voice takes a conscience decision to come out of denial and recognize that this stronghold in our minds keeps us from living an abundant life. No one is doing it to us. We are doing it to ourselves. In the scriptures, Jesus almost never relates blessings to physical wealth. When discussing physical needs, he says that God gives to all, righteous and unrighteous, describing lowly birds (Matt.6:25-34). He provides these things. Jesus came to give us more. He came that we would have LIFE. He came to free us from sins bondage. We have peace with the Father, no condemnation, forgiveness, comfort in our grief, satisfaction for our thirst for righteousness…etc.
An INV steals our ability to think rightly, shading the Truth with lies that kill and destroy our desire to serve God and others well. I have a good friend who gave me the book Balcony People. Sometimes our inner voice is broken by overly critical people in our lives who judged us harshly. This person can be a parent, caregiver, grandparent, anyone with authority over us or even a close friend. Janice calls overly critical people basement people. They steal truth from us and their criticism threatens to take away our peace, but it’s up to us to decide how we are going to live now.
Will we keep listening to basement people? Or Will we consciously choose to fill our lives with God’s Truth and balcony people who tell us the truth?
The steps to banish an INV are not magical. I’ve heard the lines, “Well, you just need to pray more and read your Bible more.” These are good things, but Jesus calls us to make disciples and teach them to obey everything (Matt. 28:19-20). The INV needs a teacher to disciple them in truth, so that they can obey. Discipleship makes the difference. Learning to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ is a process (2 Cor. 10:5).
And let me make it clear, It’s not just positive self-talk. Being honest with ourselves involves repentance. Someone may have been overly critical, but that doesn’t completely negate what they say. Learning to live in the Truth is learning to acknowledge our sin patterns and to walk in the Spirit to overcome them (Rom.8). If we continue to puff ourselves up with positive talk, we may be missing the changes we need to make in order to live the abundant life Jesus died to give us.
“Your brain will try to “protect” you and keep you safely on the ground. However, if you want to fly, if you want to depart from the path of your almost certain future, you’ve got to defy the fear and pull back on the stick.” Nik Tarascio, 3 Steps to Overcoming Negative Self Talk
I’m going to use Nik Tarascio’s 3 steps because they are what I have to do too!
- Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.
If you are like me, you have learned to dismiss or diminish harm that others have done to you. It was my coping mechanism since childhood.
Nothing ever goes away by ignoring it. Sores left to fest get worse. Face the INV. Point your finger right at it, and proclaim the Truth.
V6 “I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And you forgave me the guilt of my sin.”
If God will forgive us of guilt, how much more will He delight in healing our broken places, so that we can live the abundant life?
- Get Real with it.
Preach the Gospel to yourself. We have a new identity in Christ. We once, “walked in these ways, in the life you once lived, but now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these, anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator Col. 3:7-10).” Do you see holes in your knowledge? Do you know how to preach the Gospel to your broken places? Find a mentor who will disciple you. God’s plan is for us to live in a family relationship with one another encouraging one another.
- Visualize walking with Jesus
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God, When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with him in glory (Col. 3:1-4).”
Let this truth dwell in you richly!
I found this list a few years ago and it has been immensely helpful. I don’t know who wrote it, but it’s good. I listed a pdf of God’s Voice Vs. Satan’s on my Resources page.