Self-Talk: The Monster Inside

Silent Seduction cover jpgI spent an hour on the Internet today reading about Bobbi Kristina Brown, hoping to get an update on her medical condition. I’ll have to admit, I wasn’t prepared to see the pride, arrogance, and judgment directed toward her and her family. I sat stunned for a few moments. And then I wept.

The same way I’ve wept for judgment brought against ministry leaders and their families who haven’t healed from grief according to others’ expectations or for spouses who have been vilified and shunned for their partner’s sins. Or for the voice inside all of us that tells us that we are not among the worst of sinners, like the rest of the world.

The acid I’ve seen spewed reminds me of myself.

Just this morning my husband Dan extended grace to me when he tried to help me find something I’d misplaced. In my frustration, I offered him a sarcastic tone and a condescending attitude. I’ve doled out that tone and that condescension for years, along with disdainful body language and disrespectful jibes. Until I learned to listen to the self-talk inside my head and my sinful, arrogant rationalization a few years ago, I was callous to my egotistical pride.

I wanted to tell myself that I’m entitled to a “pass” because I’ve been living for three months with an undiagnosed lesion in my brain stem. But the truth is that my illness does not overrule my freedom of choice. And it does not overrule my ability to respond to the prodding of the Holy Spirit to repent.


For thirty years, I ground my husband (and children and others) underfoot and dismissed it as humor, a strong spirit, or my “Burke” personality.

But beneath the veneer of my self-talk, I was really wrestling with my own pride at the expense of the dignity and honor of those I claimed to love.

In the past few years, God has helped me recognize the true motive that often drives me–pushing people behind me for the satisfaction of placing myself first.

I waited on pins and needles the rest of the day for Dan to come home so I could apologize for my biting spirit.

On March 17, Focus on the Family will re-air an interview on my book The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk. It’s a book that rose from the tempest of my long struggle with ungodly self-talk–a struggle I see reflected every day in people around me.

We rationalize our lust for power.

We jockey for position ahead of others We promote our personal agendas and self-interests. We run through life ripping dignity from the hands of others in order to make ourselves feel good. And we rationalize our behavior.

We’re tired. We’re frustrated. We’re fed up. Life stinks. People disappoint us.

We think we’re entitled to a little attitude now and then.

A little snarling, a little condescension, a few racial slurs, a little sexism, some eye-rolling and arm-crossing when it comes to people who are different than we are. We’re not expected to be perfect, after all.

Not perfect–just called.

We’re called to love God with all our hearts, souls and minds, and to love people as ourselves out of the overflow of God’s abundant love.

We’re called to love as Jesus loved–in word and deed, even when it costs us.

We’re called to love in word and deed when we’re tired. When we’re frustrated. When life stinks. When people disappoint us. To lift others up and place them first. To take our place at the end of the line. We’re called to dig deep and examine our motives before before we open our mouths.

For me, that means a lot of heartwork before my feet even hit the floor in the morning.

So, world, forgive those of us who aren’t loving you well in the pain you’re experiencing right now.

Life is a daily battle to live out the gospel in word and deed as we love others.

It’s about laying down our lives in gratitude in the shadow of the cross.


8 thoughts on “Self-Talk: The Monster Inside

  1. At the present time I know what it is to experience the I got to be first issue addressed here. I have walked on eggshells 30 years of marriage life because my husband just knows he is perfect. I am to blame for everything. In doing so, he does not realize it tears me down.
    I am hurting emotionally this morning. I am dealing with illness issues and feel I’m all alone in this.
    But I did so enjoy this blog. Guess I needed it this morning to help me be more forgiving toward my husband whom I am upset with at the moment.

    • Jane, I’m so glad you wrote. We’re always required to forgive, and it can be tough in the face of criticism and blame, especially if we’re hearing that we never measure up, which is a message of false guilt Satan loves to smack on us. Healthy boundaries and forgiveness can be two different things. Sylvia Gunter has written a wonderful book, “Blessing Your Spirit,” and I recommend it (

    • Thanks, Sharon. As I watch the continuing news of Jon and Kate’s struggle, my heart breaks for them and for their children. Choosing to live a life of public scrutiny has come with a huge price tag.

      But we can all learn how important it is to be students of our self-talk–our motives, and the things we often don’t want to admits to ourselves about what lies beneath the surface of what we’re willing to admit.

      We’re a “me-first” culture. All I have to do to have the lesson hit home is to turn up the volume on my thoughts in the morning as I’m trying to share our postage-stamp-sized bathroom with my husband.

  2. For the life of me now, i can’t remember the Sat. program i listen to all the time on our local Moody [Bible Institute] radio station, but heard a little trailer about your book and had to write down the web site and look it up so to speak. God brought me to the point of seeing/meeting myself through the 12 step alanon program and have been working through the battleground of the mind for the last 24 years–our delusions go so deep, the roots so imeshed and intermingled that ONLY GOD can unravel the mess!! i thank Him daily for the Grace to say “Lord change me” which was the name of the book that started my quest; it was
    written by Evelyn Christianson. Will definitely be adding your book to my library. Thanks for letting Our Father use you.

    • I remember the book, Lord Change Me, and I was impacted by it, as well. I also remember how proud I was that Evelyn Christianson was from Muskegon, my hometown.

      Just yesterday I was ornery and wanted to snipe at my husband before church in the morning, but I was able to recognize my attitude and tell myself that it wasn’t Dan’s reponsibility to find my notebook just because I was rushed. Then I wanted to tell him now noble I was because I’d protected him from my whiney attitude. Good heavens–I struggle against the desire to make things about ME all the time.

      But how totally cool that God gives us the gift of change, an something as simple yet revolutionary as our self-talk is the key to our delusions. I’m so proud of you, Ann. You’re right. Ony God can unravel the mess, and he dances with joy at our deep desire to be changed and to listen and obey.

  3. Shelly, I stumbled upon your website tonight via my BIL Wally’s blog, I’m loving what I’m reading and this post really touched my heart — it’s totally where I’m at, too. Recognizing those behaviors, attitudes and self-talk and going right to the root of it by “Taking captive every thought” is the path to change. Thank you for your honesty.

  4. Hi, Amanda,

    So good to hear from you and to hear you mention Wally. Love that man — great writer and man of God.

    You’re right about reminding us to “take every thought captive” and the moment-by-moment nature of that part of our life of faith. But the amazing part of that journey is seeing how much it elevates my awareness of my responsibility to walk in love in the most practical way — by exercising the power of my tongue.


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