Feeling a bit down this first full work week after the holidays? Struggling to pull yourself out of the “overwhelms?”
Apparently you are not alone. I saw an article earlier this week that declared the Monday after New Year’s Day as THE day when most people find themselves struggling with feelings of depression. Intrigued, I did a little bit of digging and actually found “Blue Monday” research which claims that the first Monday after New Year’s Day is the most depressing day of the year.
For me, it’s not the Monday after New Year’s. It’s the Sunday. (I must move to a different calendar being a former classroom teacher.) My goal during the teaching years was to have the holidays all wrapped up by Sunday so I was ready to jump back into the routine on the first Monday of the year.
I guess some things never change. Now working as a substitute teacher and not completely bound to the school calendar, I still found myself struggling this past Sunday. It hit as soon as I arrived home from church – that feeling of being completely overwhelmed by E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. that still needed to be done.
When my husband inquired as to whether or not I was feeling okay, I did have the wherewithal to understand and to share that I was feeling “overwhelmed to tears,” but knew it was probably because Monday was looming.
I then spent a good portion of the day working on many of the things that needed to be done. In all honesty though, as I did I spent entirely too much time listening to myself; that inner dialogue we all engage in. “How am I supposed to get all this done?” “I can’t do it all!” “This is so much more than any one person can do alone.” “Something’s got to go!” And on and on it went.
I would love to be able to tell myself (and you) that I have it all together, but the truth is: I am still a work in progress. Sunday was clear evidence to that fact.
You see, over the past year or so I have been learning about and working on “talking to myself rather than listening to myself.”
Do you realize that people are constantly talking to themselves? You, in fact, are constantly talking to yourself? Constantly – all the time. Differing research indicates that our inner dialog consists of somewhere between 150-1,300 words a minute. Yes, that is a huge range, but either way it results in a lot of dialogue. Do the calculations, and we discover that we are speaking to our own soul between 47,000 and 51,000 sentences a day!
Frankly, most of our inner dialogue is very neutral – “Oh, I am really not ready to crawl out of bed just yet.” “Where did I put my keys?” “I can’t forget to pick the kids up from piano at four.” “What am I going to fix for dinner?” However, there is a portion of our inner dialogue that is NOT neutral. It is, in fact, destructive – meaning that the dialogue is not at all soul nourishing.
It is this destructive inner dialogue that is so harmful to us. It is not truth, and in listening to it we are actually speaking lies to our own soul.
As far as last Sunday is concerned, rather than doing so much listening to myself, to that inner dialogue that is so adept at throwing me-focused pity parties, I should have spent more time talking to myself.
Instead of continuing to listen to “ME,” two or three “Whys or whats” into my inner dialogue, I should have stopped, taken a breath, and begun to talk to myself with purpose and intent. “Keep my focus on you, Lord, not on what I am feeling or what I think needs to be done. I am doing this to myself. All these things will get done in time. You are right, Lord. I am making this about me, and it’s not about me. Forgive me for my self-focus. Thank you for dying for me and for my sin of self-centeredness. Take my self-centeredness now. I give it to you. Please, help others to see You through me, right now.”
Admittedly, some days I’m better at this than others. Sunday was not one of those days. I would have had a better day if I had done more talking and less listening. My husband would have enjoyed a better day if I had done more talking and less listening.
Intentionally taking control of our inner dialogue is not our natural inclination, however. It is not easy. We cannot do it on our own. We must ask for God’s help in learning to surrender everything – even our inner dialogue.
It is something I must continue to work on – to beat the “Blue Mondays” and all the other “Blue” days that come my way.
Perhaps it is something you need to work on also. If so, invite the Holy Spirit in and ask Him to nudge you when your inner dialogue becomes destructive. Plead for the opening of your spiritual eyes and ears that you would become aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work in your life. Pray that you would be conscious of the dialogue taking place in your inner self.
The Bible tells us that the life we are living right now is a direct reflection of our thoughts, or our inner dialogue. Proverbs 12 says, “As a [wo]man thinks, so is [s]he.”
Today is the best time to begin the spiritual practice of talking to yourself. Be aware. When you hear the destructive inner dialogue begin – stop! DO NOT LISTEN. Take a breath and begin talking to yourself. Share statements of truth. Preach the gospel. The gospel (truth) is always constructive. Truth builds up. It brings life. And it leads to singularity of heart and purpose.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).