A wisdom story tells of an elder who teaches a young girl
that inside of us all are two dogs: a good dog and a mean, vicious dog.
They are always at war for our character, he told her.
But, which will win, the girl asked.
Thoughtfully, he replied,
The one that gets fed the most.
This story goes to the heart of one of the most important truths I know: self-talk is critical to our well-being, MORE important than what’s happening outside ourselves is what we “feed” ourselves on the inside.
I first became aware of self talk when I purchased tapes entitled, “Self Talk to Weight Loss.” The guy on the tape told me to monitor what I was saying to myself about my eating, my weight. Okay, I thought, I probably say 5-6 things a day which discourage my self. I’ll count. Would you believe it was more likely 30 things a day! I was horrified to “hear” how much dark stuff I saturated myself in. The guy’s next step was for me to write down what I NEEDED to hear instead, affirmations so to speak. I began to try to replace the junk I was saying with stuff which might actually be helpful.
Thirty years later and no longer about weight loss, when I find myself in a pit, I try to “hear” what I’m saying to myself. Sometimes I can’t think what I need to hear. At times like that I’ve come to reach for some scriptures or wisdom sayings which are helpful to me (you’ll likely have others which are helpful to you). When I say “scripture” please don’t conjure a Holy One. These words of Wisdom are centuries old, used by men and women like us for thousands of years. It is somehow comforting to know I’m not the first person to grab a handhold on these words (my memory versions below may be less than accurate):
- Psalm 100:3 For it is He who made me, not me who made myself. I am his, a sheep in his pasture.
- Exodus 14;13 – Stand firm and see how the Lord will deliver you today (standing firm vs. running away, avoiding)
- Romans 8:26 – We do not know what to do, or even what to pray for but we trust the Holy Spirit to hear the groanings of our heart and answer
- Romans 9:20 – 21 – Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this? Does not the potter have the right to make the clay into what He wants?”
- (My mantra) Psalm 90 snippets: Teach me to order my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom. Satisfy me in the morning that I may sing all day; establish the work of my hands.
When I have been in dark times of my life, I feel a bit like an electric battery whose charge is all but gone. Even the tiniest interaction or action feels like an impossible drain. At times like those, I try to become aware of positive charges (people, activities or things which lift me) and negative charges (people, activities or things which drain me). Sometimes I can stand the “drain”; sometimes, my battery is on such low ebb, I cannot stand even a tiny drain. Each of us needs a list of what recharges us…I say list because when I’m in that dark spot, I can’t “remember” what I need to help myself. At this moment (and always) in the front of my journal on a piece of yellow paper is my list of what helps charge me. It reads:
visit someone older; visit someone younger; go outside; bake; take a walk; play the piano; sing out loud; ride my bike; rake or sweep; do something for someone else; clean something; read a good book; write in my journal; make something with my hands; read recipes; tend something in the yard; say the words out loud to someone I trust, “I’m having a hard time right now”. That last one is really, really hard for me and is likely a last ditch effort to right myself.
Sometimes I don’t want to “get better”; it feels easier to cocoon in the warmth of despair. I have come to believe that if there is a “SIN” or a “Devil,” for me, that is IT!….that longing to cocoon in the warmth of despair. Some years ago, when I was in the midst of such a time, I heard a Voice within me saying, “It ticks God off when blessed girls grumble in self-pity.” Now from time to time when I’m sliding into a dark spot, I just hear, “It ticks God off….” and I know the rest.
Blessings on you, dear reader. You are not alone.
This darkness will not last forever.
We can see the other side from here.