Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones brought up a very good question in his book, Spiritual Depression – It’s Cause and Cure – “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”
That is a great question because too many times we listen to our feelings and dwell on the negative things around us instead of being proactive in our feelings by filling our minds (talking to ourselves) with positive thoughts, namely God’s thoughts from His word.
The point is this: someone is always talking to you in your mind – be it the circumstances, the doubts placed within by the past, others, etc. so it’s imperative that you take control by controlling what you focus on and what you are putting into your mind. Let’s look at an example from the Bible:
Psalm 42:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation 6 and my God. My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
The Psalmist here is talking to himself and catches himself dwelling on all the negative things around him, even the convincing argument of his enemies to doubt whether God will ever do anything for him again. Instead of dwelling on the negative, he speaks to himself and goes back to the faithfulness of God that has never given him a reason to doubt. So his replacement speech to himself begins with the question, “Why are you cast down?” Notice he doesn’t beat himself up, rather goes back to the sure thing – the promises and the faithfulness of God.
We find this again in the book of Lamentations with Jeremiah the prophet. Look at how he speaks to himself in that he doesn’t mince any words about his condition, rather chooses to reset his focus from the negative to something that is true – the faithfulness of God.
Lamentations 3:16–24 (ESV) — 16 He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes; 17 my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; 18 so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.” 19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! 20 My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. 21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
This process of taking control by talking to yourself is more than just saying words over and over in a chant as to change the pattern of your mind or follow the worldly teaching that it’s merely mind over matter. Rather, it’s following the Scriptural call to overcome doubts, worry, stress, etc. by prayer, right thinking, and active obedience.
Consider the actions that are not merely suggested, rather commanded:
Philippians 4:4–9 (ESV) — 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
This is how the Spirit of God lifts up the standard of victory against the enemy when we are flooded with doubts and discouragement.
Isaiah 59:19 (KJV) — 19 So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, And his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.