I've always struggled with low self-esteem. I've lacked in the confidence department. Of course these were elevated when I wasn't invited to so-and-so's slumber party or not picked for a team. And then even today when I'm...not invited to dinner, not chosen for others to confide in, not deemed as one's best friend. After almost 35 years, I think I've come along way...from high school teenage stuff to even five or ten years ago. I believe low self-esteem is just a product of continual negative self talk. I just never labeled it as such.
Like Jennifer, I "suffer" from perfectionist tendencies. As a child, teen, and young adult I felt I could never be good enough. That would be true of today also but now I see it more that I fail than that I'm not good enough. I fail at eating healthy. I fail at exercising. I fail at disciplined quiet time. I fail at being giving or loving in all situations. I fail at attempts of making my introvert self into an extrovert. The list could go on and on.
Unbeknownst to me, this has been my self talk. As Jennifer says "our self talk actually begins to shape the life we live, affecting our very destiny." For the most part my self talk would probably be rated as condemning or at least negative. I'm working toward neutral and realizing my real value in Christ. I can admit on occasion, and talk to myself positively, about my gift of writing, my skills at work, my true concern for family and friends, etc.
I like how Jennifer relates our self talk to a closet and uses phrases regarding clothes and shoes. Aahh...the addiction of every woman, huh? :-) We can store in our thought closet "shelves and racks and bins full of hidden thoughts, secret insecurities, lies, illusions, and reminders of former failures." She really hit on all the uglies. Smacked us square in the eyes with the big uglies we tell ourselves. Insecurities. Failures. Oh please, don't remind me.
She says "Somehow, I had to stop my mind's reflex of continually rummaging through those boxes of ugly, ill fitting thoughts and words." When I read these words I thought of this...
Reflex...a natural, uncontrollable reaction.
Rummage...looking needlessly without any real purpose or direction or goals.
Ill-fitting...not suited, not matched, not intended.
We can control what we store in our thought closets. Nothing passes down our hallways and into our closets without our permission. We choose what will find storage in our closets, bins, and shelves.
What have I allowed to be stored in my thought closet? Not good things, that's for sure. Mostly not-so-good thoughts with an occasional good. What will I allow to take occupancy in my thought closet? Hopefully, I will be able to install a better security check before I buy into those thoughts, remove the alarm activating device, and take them home for my closet. Prayerfully, what consumes space in my closet will be more of what passes God's checkpoint.
It seems like I need to do some spring cleaning of my thought closets. I do not think the contents are fully what they should be or what God would desire. They would probably rest on the side of: negative, anxious, selfish, and condemning. To replicate Jennifer's words the content would be "ugly, outdated, out of line, and out of place." Maybe much like my real closet (with clothes).
I love the analogy Jennifer gave about what our mind captures. We tend to forget things so easily like: why we went into a room or where we placed things. Ever tried to place milk in the cabinet or clean dishes into the fridge? No, not me either. :-) Yet when it comes to our thought closets "our minds are like steel traps" says Jennifer. Isn't that the truth?! It can be so hard to remove the negative/unhealthy contents of our closet. And even harder to replace the contents with positive/healthy thoughts.
I like how Jennifer puts it here: "We have the appalling ability to remember all the wrong things at all the wrong times. Like a finely tuned GPS, we can locate just the right memory of failure, the perfect insecurity, or the timeliest untruth--just when we don't need it most!" Wow...such a very thick sentence with a powerful punch of truth!!
Paul tells us to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2.
It can be a scary and intimidating thought that we are a reflection of they way we think. Jennifer says: "What you hang in your closet is what you will clothe yourself with." Basically what God says. For as he thinks within himself, so he is. Psalm 23:7
I leave you with Jennifer's last statement in this chapter. "When you speak truth to your soul, you'll live out the truth. your soul talk really can help it become well with your soul."
Amen. I want it well with my soul and full of soul talk in my closet. "Jam-packed with healthy soul talk." Let's stop drawing from our dilapidated closets.
Cleaning My Closet with Soul Talk,