The words in this image are things I would say to myself when I was deeply depressed three years ago. Speaking these things out loud fed my anxiety, made me feel worse and would invoke suicidal thoughts which turned into plans to commit suicide. At that time, I did not realize the power within these words – I am not, I can’t, I won’t, I will never. Although, I heard the scripture a million times, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…,” this did not click until two years later during a therapy session when my counselor asked, “What lies are you believing?” I had just poured my heart out about how I was feeling using some of the lines in the image. My counselor advised me to ask myself that question whenever those thoughts would come to mind because how I felt was predicated by what I said, and what I said derived from a thought. All that time I had been saying those negative things to myself so often, I believed it. That was part of the reason for losing motivation and the desire to dream again, and believe I could do anything.
Today, the symptoms of depression come and go, and anxiety tends to crank up when I feel overwhelmed. But, I understand how to better manage it now. Prayer and meditation help, but even more specific is to be mindful of the negative thoughts and lies. They have a way of creeping in my mind especially when I am challenged with a difficult situation. When they do, I combat the negative thoughts and lies with the truth by speaking truth statements out loud. Such as, “I may have failed, but I am not a failure.” “I make mistakes, but I am not a mistake.” “I am not strong enough, but my God is.”
Just as I have to be cognizant of negative thoughts, I have to be mindful of and stay away from negative energy and people. I am more aware of what I watch and the things I listen to. I pay attention to how I feel after an encounter with something or someone. If it doesn’t produce a positive response, I keep my distance from it. This sounds so common, but it’s not always easy to practice. I am intentional about finding devotionals or uplifting books to read, motivational speakers to watch and podcasts to listen to. Through these things, I find encouragement and even sometimes direction. A phrase, sermon, or conversation heard may unlock a part of my mind which was closed off or it may awaken a dormant dream. Through these things, I am reminded how God does care about my needs, He does love me, He has not forgotten about me, I am a priority, I will have what my heart desires, I am not being punished for doing wrong or right (because all things are working together for my good), I will be successful, I can do right, I am beautiful, I am talented, I am good enough, and the world needs me!
“Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.” Chinese proverb, author unknown