“Train Your Brain for Grace” by Katie Hodge
I’m guessing you’re drawn to this series for the same reason I was – giving yourself grace is not something that comes easily or naturally!
Like me, you’ve probably been listening to lies from the enemy and maybe starting to believe them. And like me, you’d probably LOVE to be able to stop the internal criticism that seems to never let up, but you’ve realized that it’s just not that easy. And like me, you’ve probably berated yourself for your inability to snap out of it! This is exactly what Satan wants you to do, but there IS a way of gently and gracefully overcoming this struggle.
I’ve heard the constant stream of self-criticism that runs through heads like mine. It’s comparable to a radio station that you can’t turn off, but I like to think of it more like a constant Pandora stream. The difference is that you have no power over the programming on a radio station, but Pandora is designed to respond to your feedback!
You can learn to give the “thumbs up” or the “thumbs down” to the messages you hear in your head, and over time, your internal Pandora station will learn to give you more of the thumbs up songs and fewer of the thumbs down songs.
So how do you train your internal voice to be kind to you?
- First things first, you need to learn to recognize the things you’re saying to yourself. That seems simple enough, but when you’re new to this process, it can require conscious effort to notice when you’ve tuned in to your own inner monologue.
- Write down some of the lies you hear most frequently. We’ll get started with one or two of the most persistent and destructive so you’ll hopefully see big improvements quickly. Try to boil it down to a brief sentence so that it’s memorable. Leave several lines of space between the lies on your paper.
- Do some research, pray, maybe talk to some trusted friends or mentors. Your goal is to find truth – solid, Biblical truth – to counter these lies.
- Now… take a nice, bold marker and draw a line through the lie on your paper! Don’t fully blank it out, but leave no doubt that you are REFUTING it!
- Write the truth you’ve learned that contradicts the lie you just crossed out. Try to keep it brief, like the lie written above it.
- Continue to tune in to the messages playing in your head, and when one of the lies you’ve refuted comes up, stop yourself and picture the writing exercise you did. Just like you deliberately and strongly crossed out the lie on paper, cross it out of your thoughts. Just like you replaced it with the truth on paper, replace it with truth in your head. Repeat the truth to yourself.
- Once you notice that you’re doing step 6 automatically, it’s time to confront another lie or two! Keep at it, and soon you’ll find that you’ve trained your brain to replace self-critical lies with God’s loving truth!
This is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight! You’ll need to work at it, and you’ll need to extend yourself patience and grace while you’re working on it. But it is such a rewarding exercise – you’ll start noticing that your inner dialogue is kinder and warmer. This exact exercise has made a huge difference in my life, and I’ve noticed a big improvement in my own anxiety and depression. I hope it helps you, too!
Read more from Katie Hodge at www.alwayskatie.com!