I know don’t about other people but I feel like my brain never stops working. It keeps talking to me. Does it mean I hear voices? Am I sychrizopenic? Am I delusional?
I don’t think so. My life is pretty dull most of the time and yes I’m struggling every single day to stay in my sanity. But I’m pretty sure I’m quite ‘normal’ (as if ‘normal people exist, :D), and I’m sure many of us experience the same.
I never put a lot of thoughts on this until one day one Facebook friend’s status got my attention; “You should talk to yourself more than you listen to yourself.” Huh? I stopped, what does it mean? I pondered on the sentences for a while and after a few minutes I began to understand the sentence. How correct it is!
We listen to the voices inside our heads ALL the time! The small reminders of what we have to do, grow to be a panic alarm alerting us we still have a lot of things to do. The voices sound out our worries, our frustration towards people, our discomfort. The voices tell us about our happiness as well, but sometimes, too often, the voices tell us things that discourage our days.
My mom often told me, in her own daily struggle defeating pain or discomfort, or worryness about her life or her children – she often talked to herself, “Lina, don’t give up! You have to stay healthy! You don’t give in your problems! Wake up, Lina, get up!”
“You should do that also, daughter. Tell yourself not to give up! Tell yourself that you have to be healthy”, told her.
I listened to her unconvinced, should I really talk to myself?
But she was right, afterall. Too often I listen too much to myself. The despair when I wake up and facing a mess in the kitchen, the stress when my children start screaming, the anxiety I feel every time the hospital checks up is coming, the laziness creeps on my neck the time I have to cook, the calling to give up when I want to run. All these voices talk loud and clear, telling me to give up and let go, until the time I talk back to them and still them out.
I see it well now, talking to myself gives me energy more than from listening to it. But what are the things we have to talk to ourselves?
People buy books that teach them to do self-affirmations. Is self-affirmation good? Am I now encouraging you to stand in front of the mirror and repeating the mantras: I’m beautiful, I’m strong, I will be kind to myself, I will prioritize my well-being? Well, not exactly. To me personally saying such things would even make my misery growing stronger. Me? Beautiful? Me? Prioritizing my well being? Personally, I learn to be (very) realistic in accepting many conditions in my life. There are things we can change, there are things we can work out, there are things we simply need to accept.
And I’m convinced that we’re much influenced by the world around us. The truth we hear and see from the world might not be the real Truth I need when I have to straighten up my conviction. I need the truthful value in rebuking the voices inside my head.
But back to self-talk, these are things I talk to myself when I’m battling my negative thoughts:
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My late grandfather was a minister. He was so attached to God we often found Him ‘sleeping’ on his chair. When we told him why he would sleep when we were talking to him, he would answer, “I’m not sleeping, I’m praying.” We would all laugh and refuse to believe him. We often said that one of his feet was already in heaven while the other one was still here on earth, because he often looked so out of sync when he was with us because he was so busy having a ‘conversation’ with the One above.
This same man loved to sing, he sang everywhere, he sang just because. One of his favorites was the song ‘He Lives’: I serve a risen Saviour, He’s in the world today… I see now that this song depicted my grandfather’s life perfectly, all the love and zeal he had for God in serving Him in every single day of his life was there in every word of the lyrics. Perhaps this song was a sort of reminder for him to be, to feel alive in his love towards God.
The months approaching my third surgery, I found a very beautiful song in Youtube – Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me. Every single word reminds me of who Jesus is and what He has done for ME. Singing the song and listening to it again and again serve as an answer to my weary heart in the time of troubles.
Reading the Bible as well other good books
We humans are much influenced by the world around us. The books we read, the news we watch, the songs we listen to, people around us along with their thoughts, give much impact in the way we think much more than we ever realize. When I manage to focus more on the good words and thinking about it, the words often help me to overcome the noises inside my head.
I have materials ready to encounter the attack of desperations or laziness whenever I remember the things I’ve read.
Listening to sermons when I jog
I try to walk or run every day consistently in order to reach my 10000 steps daily. Doing something so constant like running or ironing the laundry is the time where my brain talks the most. Like I said, unfortunately my brain isn’t always very encouraging. So instead of giving up all my ears to listen to it, I plug my earphone and listen to online sermons.
The teachings occupy my brain, and instead of wandering off to the thoughts I shouldn’t think, my brain gets his cup of nutritions.
Posting tiny reminders on my walls
I received cards every week for the past 4 years from a dear friend from church. She carefully chose beautiful cards with poems, bible verses and prayers for me as she lifted me up in her own prayers. There are some tiny cards among the cards she sent me and I hung some of them up on my kitchen wall, and one is on my toilet room, just beside the basin.
On the card written a beautiful prayer for the time of uncertainty, and I can imagine all the guests coming to my house would never be able to leave it unnoticed and perhaps they thought I was pretty desperate to put such card in a toilet – but almost every time I wash my hands I read it again and again and that way, I repeat the prayers in my heart, answering my own restless heart.
Pouring our thoughts out in the form of writings is one way to talk to ourselves and stop the nagging voices inside us. Writing journals, or our thoughts after meditation can direct our meandering thoughts to be more in the track. We would also feel more free, by writing our thoughts in words we stop them from being lost in our thoughts.
Memorize the Bible verses
When I was young I was encouraged to memorize bible verses without really knowing why. As I grew older and got to meet my own battles, I understood why memorizing Bible verses was important. It was evidently useful, as my life was shaken up by so many things, even though I always fail to remember where precisely it states in the Bible, but these promises of God provide me with strength and refuge when my tomorrow felt like being hidden behind my problems. The words of God are the ultimate tools in directing our heart back to the right track.
Say It, Preach It Outloud!
King David in Psalm 42 gives a great example on how he talked to his soul:
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
For I will yet praise him,
My Savior and my God.
Psalm 42: 11 (NIV)
He rebuked himself for worrying, for being so stirred up with sadness and sorrow. He scolded himself – loudly – and reminded himself to remember the goodness of God, remember His faithfulness, to put his hope in such God.
And by remembering these characters of God, the David knew that howsoever, God is a God who deserves all praise, because He is a God who saves, whether David had experienced the saving or not on the very day he cried out this psalms.
By all means, it’s not ‘normal’ to scold ourselves out loud. In my own experience, I have to go through a lot of emotional moments all by myself. I have a loving supportive husband, two children that adore me (read: need me), a super always-ready-for-you mom, and many people who fight in prayer for me. But still, it’s not all easy to pour out all my emotions non-stoply with others.
I realize that they are all human – they get tired too, they get emotional too, and as much as I hate to admit the fact, they get scared too. I often eat many fears up by myself because I don’t want to scare my husband. One of us must stay healthy, and sane, that’s my decision.
I’m blessed that in these difficult times, God shows me again and again that He is here for me. But still, I often forget this fact. Often I don’t have anyone to talk to, I can only talk to myself. And only myself can talk to me. When I need a voice – a human voice to talk to me, comfort me, control me, rebuke me to wake up from my nightmares, sometimes I only have my own voice.
So yes, it’s not easy, but it’s doable. It’s just like I say, “you can do it, meisje.” or “You have to stop, jongen” to my children – sometimes I just have to say it outloud to myself.
Have you talked to yourself today?