I believe in the power of our thoughts. The way we think determines the way we see the world, ourselves, and our choices. For example, a people who see themselves the victim of their circumstances will see their choices as limited to what happens to them rather than what they can do. When I was a little girl, I learned a song about our thoughts:
If on occasion you have found
Your language is in question,
Or ugly thoughts come to your mind,
Then here's a good suggestion:
Just hum your favorite hymn,
Sing out with vigor and vim,
And you will find it clears your mind.
Hum your favorite hymn.
It's a simple child's song, but I still on occasion mentally hum a song when a gossipy or mean or inappropriate thought comes to my mind. Beyond being a good way to distract myself from these negative thoughts, it also serves as a label and a reminder: these thoughts are not appropriate, are not helpful, and are not godly.
In regard to our thoughts, we often talk about thoughts and images of a pornographic nature. We talk of pornography as an epidemic, as an addiction, and as an imprisonment. But I'm not going to write about pornography today. I want to discuss a different epidemic of our thoughts that I see again and again, particularly among women.
The epidemic is negative self-talk.
I hear my dear, amazing friends and family members say things all the time that make me want to scream out: "That is an absurd lie!" They'll say things like, "Man, I'm really fat" or "Why would any guy want to date me?" or "I'm too ugly for anyone to notice me." If these things are coming out of their mouths, how many other mean things are they thinking inside their heads?
I hear a lot of people speak to women about how wonderful they are. It's true. Women are wonderful! Sometimes, I think this is done to build up women and boost self-esteem. While I think this approach can be beneficial, I'm not going to sugarcoat anything with this post.
Ladies, these negative thoughts are evil. They are not appropriate. They are not helpful. They are not godly. If we suggest to men (and women), that they should remove an unclean, immoral thought or image from their mind immediately, then we women (and men) need to remove these negative, self-degrading thoughts from our minds just as rapidly. Both of these type of thoughts—the immoral and the self-degrading—come from the same source, and it’s not our Heavenly Father.
You are capable of so much more than a brain filled with thoughts of inability, inadequacy, and inferiority. Your brain was meant to be used for so much more than that! Think of all the energy you could reroute to other things. Instead of being consumed by how you looked at a party, you could be consumed by how to befriend others at a party. Instead of letting your voice go quiet in insecurity, you can let your voice rise in words of comfort and love.
Several years ago, I had an awakening to my own negative self-talk. A wise professor explained that this practice was simply a habit. It was not an inevitable, insurmountable condition. So, just as I had set other goals to brush my teeth every day and clean my room regularly, I set the goal to remove the negative thoughts from my head. The first thing I had to do was label it: this thought is leading me away from my potential and from what God wants of me. Once labelled, it was easier to want to quickly replace it. Sometimes I would hum a song, but more often than not, I would think of something else, like school, work, or what was going to happen in the last Harry Potter book. And then I repeated this process again and again and again. And again. Like any bad habit, it was extremely hard to break. Thinking negatively of myself was such a common practice that it seemed a part of my personality, something impossible to truly remove. But I kept working at it. I failed many, many times, but instead of giving in to those thoughts of inability—"You're weak. How can you win this battle?"—I kept going.
It took a long time, but years later, I can say that negative thoughts are uncommon and passing for me. They sometimes come into my mind, but I pay them little attention. They no longer are the natural route for my mind to go down and focus on. And the fight has been completely worth it. I am free.
With sincere love for the divine beings around me,