Change Your Tone: Speak Gently to Yourself
"Speak gently to yourself."
I am my worse critic. I know myself well enough to know my strengths and my weakness yet...I am have been my worst critic. From allowing toxicity into my life to beating my self down mentally when I get something wrong, if there were ever a club called "All the things wrong with Abigail," I would be its president.
Though, learning to see the best in me and embrace my mistakes with love is something I have come enjoy doing lately.
I recently posted a piece called "I Refuse to Apologize," which was about how I will always stand by what I say and do because transparency, honesty, and vulnerability are priorities in the life I want to continue living. And though the response has been wonderful, it got me thinking, "what other truths has God been revealing in my life that I could share with others?" And you know God, once you ask, you'll get an answer:
Talk about how you have been working on speaking better to yourself and accepting your imperfections.
( I just love it when God gets savage and pushes me to do things that make me feel uncomfortable.)
Speak gently to yourself.
Before I tell you how I'm learning to do this, I want to identify what the opposite of compassionate internal speech is by this example:
A while back, I promised a friend that I would do something for them. Now I had agreed to do this errand for them at a specific time, and they explained to me the importance of why I had to be on time. Well, I made sure prior to the day I needed to get this errand done that I would leave work a bit earlier because I had expected to be in traffic for at least 45 minutes (DMV traffic is no joke guys; pray for all your DMV friends as we are always being tested on patience).
Well on the day I promised to get this job done, I left work when I knew it would be best and got in my car. Sadly, after putting the address of my destination into my Waze and Google maps, both GPS systems said that it would take me 1 hour, 15 minutes to the very same place that should've taken me 45 minutes to get to. WOW!
I was upset, to say the least. I decided to trust the knowledge of the backroads and find every avenue possible to get me to my destination on time. Long story short, I was late, and the emotions came flooding. Frustrated, upset, disappointed, hurt, confused, and helpless. All these emotions were spilling out of me so much that after almost a year of not having panic attacks, one came.
I tried to reach out to my best friends so I could get some help (panic attacks are no fun), but they weren't who God wanted to use to help me in the situation. Instead, the Lord used a mentor who was on my route to remind me of some truths that I had forgotten in this case:
1| I'm human. Technology and life (traffic) will always be out of my control. I can only handle what is in my power and that the emotions I had.
2| My intentions were all there. Looking back, one of the things I overlook, whenever I've messed up, is understanding and standing by my intentions. I've always been quick to jump to where I messed up at and how that affects everyone than to cut myself some slack because my heart was in the right place.
3| I'm purposely allowing unnecessary stress to affect my mood, my perspective, my feelings, and ultimately, in this case, my health.
4| I'm not the only one. It's easy to beat yourself down when you feel like you're the only person who's made that mistake but fun fact: more people have made the very same mistake you have once or multiple times. You're not alone, and that's a trick the enemy and your lack of clear perspective play on you.
Now fast forward after my conversation with my mentor, I began to realize that at the end of the day my biggest oppsie was how I spoke and treated myself when everything was happening.
Instead of telling myself, "hey Abigail, you did everything you could do to get this errand done properly and on time," I flooded my thoughts with thoughts like, "why is this happening on a day like today?" Thoughts like, "wow, only on a day that I need things to go right," "I should've done this and that," "she's going to be upset with me because I let her down when she needed me," "she's not going to trust me to get this done ever again," and of course, "I've failed her."
These were all thoughts that weren't healthy for my self-esteem and self-love. And guess what, when I expressed to my friend how sorry I felt, she was more than understanding. I had allowed disappointment and fear to create a mini monster that was trying to eat what I've been spending all these months doing (btw mini monster being the thoughts and panic attack ).
So what did I learn from all of this?
When I mess up or feel as if I've disappointed someone I genuinely care about, though they seem more powerful than I, God has given me the power to speak kindly to myself. Every time moments like this happen, it's a way for me to exercise my spiritual muscles and transforms my thoughts and my perspective into fruitful and loving lessons.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.'
- I John 4:16-19 NKJV
Thus says the Lord : “The people who survived the sword Found grace in the wilderness— Israel, when I went to give him rest.” The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel! You shall again be adorned with your tambourines, And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice. You shall yet plant vines on the mountains of Samaria; The planters shall plant and eat them as ordinary food. For there shall be a day When the watchmen will cry on Mount Ephraim, ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, To the Lord our God.’ ” For thus says the Lord : “Sing with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O Lord , save Your people, The remnant of Israel!’ Behold, I will bring them from the north country, And gather them from the ends of the earth, Among them the blind and the lame, The woman with child And the one who labors with child, together; A great throng shall return there. They shall come with weeping, And with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, In a straight way in which they shall not stumble; For I am a Father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn. “Hear the word of the Lord , O nations, And declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’ For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, And ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, Streaming to the goodness of the Lord — For wheat and new wine and oil, For the young of the flock and the herd; Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, And they shall sorrow no more at all. “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, And the young men and the old, together; For I will turn their mourning to joy, Will comfort them, And make them rejoice rather than sorrow. I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord .”'
Think of everything I'm saying in this way:
When you mess up, when you fall short in any way, picture your parents (or your favorite parent cause we all know some of us are way too side selective). How would they speak to you? How have they talked to you in the past when you mess up? Imagine that kind, understanding, and loving voice. And if your parents don't do that then do the bonus and imagine how God talks to you.
God knows that you're going to fall short before you do. Remember that while Jesus was on the cross he saw all your mess-ups and still said, forgive them. Jesus knew all too well about your shortcomings and sins, and he always chooses to love you. Now you get to love on you. You get to speak kindness and love and hope into your life. And this is especially important in moments when it's hardest to see the best in you.
Until next time...