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how to stop thinking bad things about yourself

“You idiot — you’re so stupid!”

“My dad was right — it was just a matter of time before I screwed up my marriage.”

“I’m not smart enough to get a good paying job.”

Here’s the Problem

All of us at some point have scolded or shamed ourselves in our thoughts, some more frequently than others. Where did all that crazy, negative self-talk come from?

1. Others

You might be recalling a painful or repeated message from a parent, a boss, a coach, a close friend, a former (or current) lover, echoing through your spirit as if it were spoken just a few moments prior. Sadly, many people have been wounded by “friendly fire” — people who should have been on our side, fighting for us and building us up.

2. Ourselves

Often, our mistakes haunt us and we just won’t let ourselves off the hook. 

3. Our spiritual enemy

We carelessly take to heart every crazy thought that crosses our mind. Our subconscious mind feverishly looks for things it can systematize to make our lives easier and more efficient. 

Harsh words from the past. Negative self talk. Crazy ideas. They suck life away from us, and if we aren’t careful, we allow ourselves to believe them, and we feel completely miserable, losing sight of the joy that could be ours.

Words matter. Words have power. When you say something out loud your brain starts to try to move toward what you said.

Listen to this: 

Careless words stab like a sword, and wise words bring healing. (Proverbs 12:18 NCV)

The Two Step Solution

Step 1: Stop

Stop giving power to other people’s negative and hurtful words! Reject their opinions as inferior and incorrect!

When hurtful memories or negative ideas come to mind, Shut. Them. Down. Envision yourself swatting them away with a huge stop sign fly swatter! Say aloud, if you can, “NO! I’m not going to believe that thought any longer!”

Think about this: why would you want to give other people the power to tell you how valuable you are? Commit to swatting the hurtful or negative thoughts out of sight, like you’re hitting a home run over the fence in baseball. Think of that stop sign swatter as your personal Thor’s hammer. 

Step 2: Start

Start listening to the Voice of the One who created you. He. Created. You. Let the Designer determine the value of His creation. Give Him the power to affirm once again your value and your worth.

Below is a list of powerful words God has spoken about and over you. Yes, powerful, life giving words. About you. The list is duplicated with the full scriptures below. For easy reference and power, say these aloud. Often. 

I am His.

I am never alone.

I am loved.

I am worth it.

I am forgiven.

I am God’s masterpiece.

I am accepted.

I am wonderfully made.

I am a child of the King.

I am not who I once was.

I am made new.

I am valuable.

I am chosen.

I am more than a conqueror.

I am protected.

I am blessed.

I am heard by God.

I have a future.

I am able to do hard things.

I am part of God’s family.

I am comforted.

I am seen.

I am redeemed.

I am renewed.

I am healed.

I am set free.

I am alive with Christ. 

I am strong in Christ.

I am forever free from condemnation.

 (Identical List, with scripture references)

I am loved.

… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38‭-‬39 ESV)

 I am worth it.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)

I am forgiven.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)

I am His.

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1 ESV)

I am never alone.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 ESV)

… for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV)

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 ESV)

I am God’s masterpiece.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

I am wonderfully made.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:14 ESV)

I am a child of the King.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

I am not who I once was.

I am made new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV_

I am valuable.

knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:18‭-‬19 ESV)

I am chosen.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16 ESV)

I am more than a conqueror.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37 ESV)

I am protected.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV_

He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. (Psalm 91:4 ESV)

You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. (Psalm 32:7 ESV)

I am blessed.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (Ephesians 1:3‭-‬4 ESV)

I am heard by God.

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1‭-‬2 ESV)

I have a future.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

I am able to do hard things.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 ESV)

I am part of God’s family.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12 ESV)

I am comforted.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3‭-‬4 ESV)

I am seen.

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” (Genesis 16:13 ESV)

I am renewed.

…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. (Colossians 3:10 ESV)

I am healed.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. (Jeremiah 17:14 ESV)

I am set free.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36 ESV)

I am alive with Christ. 

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses. (Colossians 2:13 ESV)

I am strong in Christ.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9‭-‬10 ESV)

I am forever free from condemnation. 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1‭-‬2 ESV)

     _______

You have a choice. You can listen to Your Heavenly Father’s loving encouragement, or you can let a few flawed humans who, out of their hurt, pronounce judgment over you. Swat away the hurt and the negative thinking. Embrace the uplifting life giving words of your Creator.

Since value is determined by what someone is willing to pay to get what they want, consider that God, in Jesus, said you are valuable. His death on the cross proves just how valuable you are to Him. 

Soak in the real truth about yourself. The more you hear it, the more you say it, the more you will feel the truth of God’s Word about you. And it feels awesome, hopeful, empowering, and peaceful.  

Rev. Greg Griffin is a Board Certified Pastoral Counselor, Amen Certified Brain Health Coach and Forgiveness Coach in private practice in Marietta, GA. His specialty is relationship repair and rescue- helping partners, spouses, and parents and their adolescents. He’s also the author of Dungeon Times Survival Guide, and Vital Faith.

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