Have you ever heard the nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words will never hurt me!” I’m guessing you have. Actually, I’m willing to bet that you’ve said it at one point in your childhood (maybe, even in your adulthood). It’s a clever rhyme… but it’s crap. The truth is, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words will stay with me for the rest of my life, and depending on how much influence you have on me, they may even shape my identity.” But… that’s not catchy.
Our words have so much power. In fact, we can’t even begin to comprehend how much power our words have… but we’ve all felt how much power they have. If I were to ask you what the worst thing someone has ever said to you was, you’d probably think of it instantly. To go even further, if I were to ask you who said it, you’d probably tell me it was someone very close to you; someone you admire, trust, and love - maybe, a parent or a coach. (The sad thing is, you probably didn’t even take into account the awful things you’ve said to yourself).
One of the most frequent questions I ask the athletes in the Coachability mentorship program is, “Who told you that?” I usually ask them this question after they say something self-deprecating or share one of their limiting beliefs with me. Most of the things we believe about ourselves are what other people have told us, and in turn, we’ve held onto these things by countlessly repeating them in our minds, and agreeing with them by speaking them out-loud over and over again. We’ve thought and we’ve spoken these things so much that we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe them to be true, even though they’re not. Worst of all, we’ve allowed these things (what others have said to/about us) to define who we are.
There’s a reason why one of my job titles is “Mental Conditioning Coach.” Most of the athletes who come to me have an issue on the field/court/mat that’s hindering their performance. My job as their Mental Conditioning Coach is to help them discover why they’re having this issue, by helping them become aware of the root of the issue. In 99 out of 100 times, the root is not what’s happening on the field/court/mat, it’s what’s happening in the environment they live in and how they were raised. At some point in their childhood, they were told something that they conditioned themselves to believe to be true, even though it’s not. This is where I intervene, and help them realize what is true about them. Then, I help them condition themselves to believe what is true to be true. Hence, the job title, “Mental Conditioning Coach.” This conditioning requires a lot of time, patience, and discipline. We’re reversing years - if not, decades - of conditioning, and changing deep-rooted beliefs. It doesn’t happen overnight. It might not even happen over a year. But, it will happen, eventually.
The question you may be asking right now is “How? How do we change what we believe? How do we condition ourselves to believe what is true?” In order to know this answer, we must know what we can control; which is much less than we think it is. There’s a false narrative that has spread that we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe, and it’s ultimately led us to frustration and disappointment. This false narrative is, “Control your thoughts, control your life,” or “Change your thoughts, change your life.” The problem is, no matter how hard we try to control our thoughts, we can’t. We have over 30,000 thoughts per day; all of which we have no control over. Our thoughts are like clouds in the sky; they come and go as they please. Trying to control our thoughts is like trying to throw a lasso around a cloud. It’s impossible!
The Bible teaches us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Notice, it says “take captive,” not “take control.” There is a difference. To take captive is to isolate or confine. To take control is to direct or determine. We can’t direct (or determine) our thoughts, but we can confine them. This is so important to know, because the next time you have a negative thought (which you will), instead of trying to control it or direct it (and eventually, get pissed off when it keeps coming back), confine it by writing it down, then asking yourself “Where is this coming from?” or “Who told me this?” Once you find the answer(s) to those question(s), then you must figure out what the truth is. This is where the second part of that verse comes to play - “make it obedient to Christ.” In Hebrew, Christ means Messiah. In John: 14:6, Jesus Christ says, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” So, when we take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, we’re making them obedient to the truth; which is what Jesus Christ is and says. This means we’re aligning our thoughts, and most importantly, our spoken words with the Word (John 1:1).
Note to self: It’s arrogant to think what you say is truer than what God says. It’s haughty to think that your thoughts are truer than His thoughts. It’s prideful to think that how you view yourself is truer than how He (the One who created you) views you. When your words don’t align with His Word, you’re essentially telling Him - the holy, flawless, perfect Creator of the entire universe - that He's wrong. Even worse, you’re calling Him a liar. Let that sink in.
We may not be able to control our thoughts, but we can control the words that come out of our mouths. I believe the only way our thoughts reach our hearts is if they go through our mouths. Jesus said, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45).” If you’re like I was, you’ve filled your heart with negative, discouraging, dream-killing words. I promise you, it’s never too late to start filling your heart with life, love, encouragement, joy, kindness, peace, and mercy. It’s never too late to start filling your heart with God’s promises; His Word.
The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that the power of life and death are in the tongue (what we speak). Too many of us are speaking death over our lives and receiving death because of it. Do we really want the negative things we say to ourselves to come true? Because that’s exactly what’s happening!
I’m begging you to audit your inner-dialogue and take control of the words you say. If you want life, start declaring life. If you want abundance, start declaring abundance. If you want confidence, start declaring confidence. If you want victory, start declaring victory. If you want peace, start declaring peace. If you want joy, start declaring joy.
If you want to stop the relentless negative thoughts you have from filling your heart, start speaking contradictions (positivity)… out loud! If you want to stop the lies that resound in your mind from resounding in your heart, start speaking the truth… out loud! Even if they go against everything you were taught (conditioned) when you were a child, speak them… out loud! Even if you don’t feel like it, speak them… out loud! Even if it seems cheesy and you feel like Stuart Smalley doing it, speak them… out loud! Even if you don’t believe them (yet), keep speaking them… out loud!
WHAT MY THOUGHTS SAY VS. WHAT GOD SAYS
Every negative thought, and every lie that echoes in your mind, has a rebuttal from God in His Word.
Here are 21 examples:
“I’m not worthy.” vs. “You are so loved.” (John 3:16)
“I’m alone.” vs. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“I’m abandoned.” vs. “You are My child.” (1 John 3:1)
“I’m a nobody.” vs. “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)
“I’m a failure.” vs. “You are redeemed.” (Ephesians 1:7)
“I’m defeated.” vs. “No weapon formed against you will prosper.” (Isaiah 54:17)
“No one cares about me.” vs. “I have called you by name. You are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
“This is impossible.” vs. “With Me, all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
“I can’t do this.” vs. “You can do all things through Me and the strength I give you.” (Phillipians 4:13)
“I’m a disappointment.” vs. “I am well pleased with you.” (Matthew 3:17)
“I’ve made too many mistakes.” vs. “I am working all things together for your good.” (Romans 8:28)
“I’m a failure.” vs. “I have given you the victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
“I’m useless.” vs. “You are My ambassador.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)
“I can’t overcome this.” vs. “You are more than a conquerer.” (Romans 8:37)
“I’m ugly, fat, hideous, etc.” vs. “You are My masterpiece.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“I’m cursed. Nothing goes my way.” vs. “You are blessed and highly favored.” (Psalm 5:20)
“There’s no hope for me. My life is over.” vs. “I have plans for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“There’s no cure for my sickness.” vs. “By my stripes, you are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
“I’ll forever be in bondage.” vs. “I set you free… indeed!” (John 8:36)
“I’ll always be this way.” vs. “In Me, you are a new creation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“I’m a sinner.” vs. “In me, you are righteous!” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
THE GREAT I AM
All throughout the Bible, God is affectionately referred to as “Yahweh,” which means “The Great I Am.” In Exodus 3:14, God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.” Therefore, “God,” “Yahweh,” and “I Am” can be used interchangeably. This is why the soldiers who went to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus the night before His crucifixion fell to the ground when He said, “I am!” - He powerfully declared that He is God. The good news is (pun intended), the same perfect Spirit that raised Him - our Savior - from a borrowed grave is dwelling inside of all of us. This is why there’s infinitely more power behind “I am [fill in the blank]” than “I will be [fill in the blank]“ - the Great I Am lives inside of us. Plus, declaring “I will be victorious” is future tense, but in the name of Jesus, we’ve already won; declaring “I will overcome [fill in the blank]” is future tense, but Jesus has already overcome the world, and in Him, we are (not will be) more than conquerers.
The next time you have a negative thought, take it captive and reject it by declaring what the Great I Am says about you. You are His. Therefore, you are who He says you are! But, seeing “You are a child of God,” will not mean anything to you until you start declaring, “I am a child of God!”
I encourage you to make a list of declarations (what God says about you in His Word), make copies of it and post it everywhere where you spend the most time (bedroom, car, office, etc.), and start speaking them out loud every morning and night, and as much as you possibly can in between! If you need help creating a list of declarations, please feel free to use my declarations of faith as inspiration.
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