“I am so stupid!” – The way we talk to ourselves
This morning I was eating breakfast together with my children, drinking my coffee. With a sudden movement to help one of the children with his cereals, I spoiled my whole coffee over the table, chair and floor.
My first, spontaneous reaction was “oh no!”… But then, I simply (and still in a good mood) started to clean up the mess, asking my children: Are you all right?
No hot coffee on you? They were all ok and one of my children took a table cloth and helped me clean up. I was happily surprised, thanking him for his thoughtfulness. He answered with a smile: “It’s ok mommy, I like to help you.”
Then I continued talking about how such things happen to everyone from time to time, and that this is nothing to get upset about. That in such situations, we just need to clean up and maybe apologize if someone got hurt or wet.
For the rest of the breakfast – the mood didn’t change – we continued happily and relaxed.
Later that day I was thinking of how this same situation would have looked some years back with who I was back then.
The story would have unfolded this way:
In the morning I was eating breakfast together with my children, drinking my coffee. With a sudden movement to help one of the children with his cereals, I spoiled my whole coffee over the table, chair and floor. I couldn’t believe it! How can I be so clumsy and stupid! These things always happen to me! I really got upset with myself, and with continuous marveling of how stupid I am, I cleaned up my mess. One of my children wanted to help but I snapped at him: “go sit on your chair!”
I was so angry and frustrated with myself that moment!!
After I finished cleaning, everyone was quietly finishing their breakfast, happy when we were finished and everyone could leave the table.
I continued these thoughts about how easily the words “I am so stupid!” come out of our mouths, in times we did or didn’t do something we should have.
How many times is our self-talk harsh, blaming, how often do we feel ashamed of who we are by what we did and therefore we become harsh with others.
And so often it is so normal to us, that we don’t even realize that this could be something to change in our lives. After all, we just use the words that were spoken to us as children. We talk to ourselves the same way we react to our errors or even to our success, the same way we internalized it from our childhood.
I continued my thinking of what exactly had changed, that our breakfast finished in this peaceful way as it did.
Was it about the behavior of the children?
No, it was about me. I’ve changed. I’ve become peaceful on the inside, relaxed of who I am, being gracious with myself (and therefore with others as well).
Therefore, is this due to improved self-esteem, or positive self-talk?
Not really. The shame of who I am, the feeling of rejection and failure was so deeply rooted within me, I don’t know if positive self-talk would have been enough to bring me to where I have the privilege to be today.
Probably the process of change started about 12 years back.
I just got back from a few months overseas and returned for work. Back home, I was thinking about the few months I was away and how a very nice guy had been very interested in me. I was interested as well, but the age difference and the culture was so big, I declined the offer of a relationship.
Therefore, I was back home, still single and well over my twenties.
Thoughts (and with the thoughts strong emotions) came up: “I am so stupid! How could culture and age make me decline such an offer? He was a really nice guy! Now I will stay single for the rest of my life, and it will be all my fault! “ (and no, there was no possibility to go back and tell the guy that I changed my mind – he was finished with me).
Like a flash a scripture from 2 Cor 10.5 came into my mind:
“we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ”
It hit me: I was letting these thoughts bring me into such anguish and shame… and were these thoughts the truth of God?
Of course not.
With that revelation, I refused these thoughts.
I prayed a prayer like this:
Dear father, you know that I am well over my twenties, that I just declined an offer for a relationship because of reasons I still don’t know if they were good reasons. But your word says, that you will make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43.19) This shall be my truth.
Lead me into your truth and into the life you have for me.
You know what?
3 months later I met Benny.
Now we’ve been married for 8 years. I have four children and we’re enjoying being this family we are.