Oftentimes, people believe they are responsible for their bad attitudes. They believe they must “fix” their attitudes so they can be successful. But you are not your attitude; you are a child of God who has been created in His image. You have value whether or not you have a good attitude at any given time, and you will find that this truth will help free you from the hold of negative self-talk in your life.
1. Get to know yourself better.
All too often we throw around phrases like “I always _____,” when in reality, we only do it about one out of every five times or so. We also compare ourselves to other people’s standards, thinking that if we do not meet their bar then we will never measure up in life. So instead of trying to improve upon our negative self-talk, we need to get to know who God says we are.
2. Focus on what you can do rather than what you cannot do.
As per Paul Haarman the more you focus on the things you cannot do, the less likely it will be that you will see any growth in your life. The only way to overcome negative thoughts is focusing on your strengths and gifts by nourishing them with daily praise and practice—rather than beating yourself up for being “bad” at something or allowing others to influence your thoughts about yourself through their criticism.
3. Practice grace instead of the law of perfectionism.
When you read over this list of sins below, did anything surprise you? For many of us, our own lists of sins would be far larger than this. The reason we focus on the things we do wrong and beat ourselves up about them is because of our experience with laws and rules in life:
I don’t speak to others as kindly as I should;
I don’t keep my house clean enough;
and I don’t treat my husband like a king;
My kids get away with too much.
But God’s law of grace is different than man’s law of perfectionism, which demands that we perfectly obey every rule or face harsh consequences. This is not what grace says: “But if you do sin, [God] remains faithful—He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).
4. Cultivate relationships with people who try to tear you down in any way.
You cannot focus on the good in life if you are constantly around people who only point out your shortcomings, highlight your failures, and make fun of you behind your back. These kinds of people will tell lies about you—but they feel free to break their own promises too; it is all designed to bring them power over you. They want nothing more than for others to look up to them while looking down at everyone else. Unfortunately, when it comes right down to it, this kind of behavior is not only encouraged by the world but is subtly applauded through our modern-day social media “friends,” who seem so happy and do so many nice things for one another.
5. Practice looking at others through God’s eyes of grace.
We grow in grace by practicing it ourselves, but we also can learn more about grace by watching how God shows His own unconditional grace to us—unmerited favor given again and again without any regard for our self-righteousness or what we “deserve.” He doesn’t give His glory to another, but instead He exalts those who humble themselves before Him (James 4:10). So when you are tempted to judge someone else’s sinfulness in comparison to your own, think of all the ways that you yourself have not lived up to God’s standards in the past week rather than focusing on someone else’s “failure.”
6. Know that your value comes from a lifetime of faithfulness rather than a lifetime of success.
When you were younger, it might have been easy to measure yourself against others and feel as if you would never be enough—no matter how much success or popularity you had in your life. In those times, God patiently waited for the right time to bring His plan into fruition through you, no matter how many people tried to tear down your self-confidence along the way. Over time, as you practice grace by looking at yourself through God’s eyes instead of other people’s eyes, then you will begin to see that our value is not based upon what we do but upon who we are—children of God made in His image.
According to Paul Haarman, the apostle Paul understood the temptation to construe our sinfulness as a burden too difficult to bear. In the New Testament, he expresses this struggle of feeling like he has nothing to boast about before God except his sin. But for Paul, this was no reason to despair. He writes that it is because of sin that Jesus came into this world, died on the cross, and was raised again so that we who believe in Him would have eternal life and not have to face God’s judgment for our sins.