Every day, all day, our “inner voice” chatters away at us in an internal monologue we have with ourselves. This “discussion” can be positive or negative, and greatly impacts our life.
Psychologists call it “self-talk.” It is something we all do. Research has shown that positive self-talk yields positive results, while negative self-talk yields negative results. A salesman may use positive self-talk to “pump himself up” for his presentation. We may tell ourselves, “You can do this!” Or, we may tell ourselves, “You have no options, no chance of success. You will fail.” Assuming defeat limits outcomes.
Athletes use self-talk to enhance their performance with mental exercise to “program” their mind and body to properly execute the actions of serving in tennis, of jumping hurdles or performing a competitive dive. I have watched with keen interest as an Olympic high-jumper bobbed his head in “self-talk” while imagining himself successfully going through each motion necessary to properly execute the jump and leap over the bar.
I have also watched as a professional golfer engaged in negative self-talk, sabotaging his performance. He “psyched himself out,” meaning he allowed negative self-talk to defeat him.
The technique of positive self-talk is well known to enhance an athlete’s performance on the track, field, ski slope or diving tower. They use the technique to “see” themselves performing the physical actions correctly and successfully before their attempt. They tell themselves to keep the head down, the arm straight, or to tuck and twist with the knees locked, etc.
There is a Biblical principle involved in this technique, which we would do well to follow. It is not a matter of accomplishing great things on our own power or effort or by some mental trick, but of having a proper mindset.
We are what we think. In Proverbs 23:7 we are told: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” We act on our thoughts to a great extent. Therefore, a great athlete controls not only his food diet, but also his mental diet. He exercises his thoughts as well as his body. He trains his thinking as well as his muscles.
Likewise, one who follows Jesus Christ must control what he thinks. Paul made a comparison of a Christian’s life to that of an athlete. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things” (1 Corinthians 9:24–25).
What we feed our minds and what we allow ourselves to think is critically important. Our mental diet enters our mind through what we see, read, hear, and what we allow our own imagination to feed us through self-talk. The television show, the radio program, the words of the music we hear and what we read are our mental “food.”
Paul also compared a Christian’s life to that of a soldier in warfare. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5). It requires mental effort and discipline to control our mind and exercise the right kind of thinking.
To have a good mental diet, we should follow this Biblical advice. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Talk to yourself…positively. But know that you can also talk to God—and His words are the most positive of all. For more on this subject, read the articles “Turning Points”, “Bounce Back!” and “A Purposeful Existence” in the Tomorrow’s World magazine. Also be sure to order Twelve Keys to Answered Prayer today.