Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Stacy Averette

What do you say when you talk to yourself? Are your thoughts and words to you, about you, kind and lovely? I hope so but if your thoughts are anything like mine; they’re not always kind or lovely. Over the past few years, I’ve started paying attention to what I say when I talk to myself and being intentional about thinking biblically. This one simple habit has been life-changing for me and I promise it will be life-changing for you. There’s a free printable at the end!

Do You Talk to Yourself?

I talk to myself all the time.

  • “I should’ve eaten breakfast.”
  • “I shouldn’t have eaten that pie.”
  • “I can’t believe I forgot to pay that bill.”
  • “I’m such an idiot.”
  • “It’s colder than I thought.”
  •  “Did I turn off the coffee pot?”
  • “I probably should get my teeth cleaned.”
  • “Are they laughing at me?

Our thoughts are sneaky. They’re like an audio file playing in the background that we hardly notice. You might be thinking, “Who cares?” Do my thoughts even matter that much?

4 Reasons to Change How You Talk to Yourself

Do your thoughts matter? I mean, it’s not like anyone can hear what you’re thinking. Or can they?

Here are four reasons your thoughts matter:

1. Your thoughts determine your feelings and your feelings determine your actions.

Everything begins with a thought. Our feelings don’t come out of nowhere. We often think that people and circumstances make us “feel bad” but the truth is it’s our thoughts about our circumstances or people or what was said or done to us that make us feel a certain way. How we respond to (think about) what’s going on outside of us determines what happens inside of us (feelings).

2. You hear your thoughts.

I often challenge my coaching clients to “be your own best friend”. Most are confused by this and ask, “What do you mean?” To clarify, I ask one simple question: Would you say out loud to your best friend, the things you say to you about yourself?” The response is almost always the same: quiet tears.

3. Others hear your thoughts.

Your words begin as a thought. The thoughts you think about yourself, others, and the world around you become the language of your life. We often say, “I wish I could read minds.” You can. Listen to what others say and you’ll know how and what they think.

4. God hears your thoughts.

Your creator knows what you’re thinking and thank goodness He does. How many silent prayers have you prayed? I’m so glad He can hear our thoughts and respond when we can’t pray aloud. But it’s not just our silent prayers He hears.

God hears every thought.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24

a vintage typewriter on a desk

The Power of Your Thoughts

1. Your thoughts are powerful because your thoughts determine your feelings and your feelings determine your actions.

Let me give you an example of how powerful your thoughts are:

            Create a feeling of happiness

  • Close your eyes if you can and recall a positive experience such as a wonderful vacation, reaching a goal, etc.
  • Recall the pleasant details of the experience as if you were there now. Relive it in your mind.
  • The “recall” (thoughts) creates a positive feeling (happiness, joy, peace, delight) that your body notices. You relax and feel happy all over.

The same thing happens when we recall a sad, stressful, embarrassing event. The “recall” (thoughts) creates a series of negative and painful feelings (hurt, anger, anxiety) that your body notices. You tense up; feel hot, and perhaps nauseated. Again, it’s not the event itself since it’s not currently happening, but your thoughts about it.

Even the “wonderful vacation” recall could cause negative feelings instead of positive ones. If you allow your thoughts to shift to an argument you had or how you spent too much money you can quickly transition from a feeling of happiness to a feeling of anxiety and stress.

Our thoughts matter! More than our circumstances or the people in our lives, our thoughts determine how we feel moment by moment.

Let me add a side note here for clarity. Often a negative thought we have is true. Take the “wonderful vacation” example. Perhaps it is true that you spent too much money and went over your budget for the trip. But thinking “I spent too much money” repeatedly isn’t serving you. To keep thinking that thought creates feelings in the form of unnecessary stress and anxiety about a situation you can’t undo. In turn, those negative feelings you’re creating typically lead to poor choices such as overeating, overspending, or whatever thing you do to try and soothe or “medicate” your negative feelings. It’s a vicious cycle.

When a thought is unpleasant but true, choose a better thought. Tell yourself a better story.

Instead of:

“I spent too much money”


“We made wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. I forgive myself for spending more money than I said I would. I am good with money and I can cut back on my spending for a while.”

Choosing a better story allows you to create positive emotions that help you make better choices. This is a better more life-giving cycle!

2. Your thoughts are powerful because you hear them.

You are constantly telling yourself what you believe to be true about you. Your self-talk becomes your self-concept. Your self-talk reveals what you believe about your worth and value.

“Think of others more highly than yourself” is a verse I knew well as a girl growing up in church but I’d grossly misinterpreted and twisted Paul’s words in Philippians 2. He wasn’t suggesting I should think poorly of myself! Acknowledge (confess) my sinfulness, yes, but to constantly berate myself for every little mistake is wrong.

I thought I was practicing Christ-like humility but there’s nothing Christ-like about not knowing your value as a God-created, image-bearing, redeemed child of God. I believe it’s an insult to God. Furthermore, you might never use profanity but have you considered that the harsh, unkind words you use to describe yourself are just as bad as spewing profanity?

If your self-talk is heavy with unkind, negative words and insults is it any wonder you feel anxious, depressed, and hopeless? You’re harsh and overly critical of yourself, so should it come as a surprise that you struggle with insecurity and self-doubt?

If you said out loud to a friend the things you say to yourself, how long would that friendship last? Imagine saying out loud to your child every hour of the day, the things you think about yourself. Sobering, huh?

In the past few years, I’ve done lots of work on my thought life. I’ve especially paid attention to my self-talk after realizing that my self-concept didn’t line up with God’s view of me. I had developed a habit of allowing my thoughts to run wild and unchecked. I’d begun to believe all the harsh, unkind, and unbiblical words I was thinking about myself. It was a painful truth for this “good Christian girl” to admit but a necessary part of my spiritual growth.

3. Your thoughts are powerful because others hear them.

You speak your mind. Literally.

“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” Luke 6:45

In this passage, the word translated as “heart” literally means mind, character, inner self, will, intention, and center.

The thoughts you think become the language you speak about yourself and your life, but they also become the words you speak to others.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. Indeed, figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor grapes from brambles.” Luke 6: 43-44

The fruit we bear—how we act and speak—is a direct result of our inner life, the thoughts we think, and what we meditate on.

4. Your thoughts are powerful because God hears them.

You are constantly telling yourself what you believe to be true about you and God hears. Do your words about you agree with what God thinks of you?

God thinks mighty highly of you, friend. So highly that He sent his Son to die for your sins so that you could enjoy a relationship with Him in this life and the next. According to Romans 5:8, he died for you when you were at your worst. He didn’t wait for you to act better or prove your worth. Your worth had already been decided by Him.

So if God thinks you are worthy and valuable and loveable who are you to think any less of yourself? You might say, “But I’m a sinner still.” So am I! God knows us better than we know ourselves and He loves us still.

Click here to read “Confession: I’m a Sinner, Still”.

two hands shaping a lump of clay

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

God loves you and He cares how about how you talk to yourself. This truth hit home with me when my children were younger. I’d overhear one say, “I’m so dumb” when a test grade wasn’t what they’d hoped. Or “I’m so fat. I hate my body” after gaining a few pounds. Or “I’m such a screw-up” if there was an issue with their work. It grieves my mama’s heart to hear them speak so unkindly about themselves. I can only imagine how our Heavenly Father feels as he listens to the way his children speak about themselves.

God helped me understand that as my Father, He is grieved when I harshly criticize myself, my appearance, and my abilities.

As a believer, I can rest in the gentle conviction and correction of the Holy Spirit. I can honestly acknowledge the ways I’ve fallen short, receive the grace and mercy He so freely offers, and ask for help. It is unnecessary to berate and verbally abuse myself.

To know your God-given worth is part of what it means to be Christ-like. Jesus didn’t depend on the opinions or affirmations of others to tell Him who He was. Jesus knew His worth and value. He was the Son of God and he lived and loved accordingly.

When you know who you are, a beloved child of God, and understand your worth and value, you will change what you say when you talk to yourself.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21

Choose life.

The Lovely List: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself

I created a list of life-giving phrases to say when you talk to yourself. This list has helped me change what I say when I talk to myself, how I feel throughout the day, and how I act, especially when life is hard and I feel overwhelmed.

The Lovely List is simply you thinking and speaking what is true—whatever is lovely—about you as a child of God. You might see some things on the list and think, “That’s not true about me.” But consider this: How many times have you quoted, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”? Many times probably. Do you believe it or are you still thinking, feeling, and acting as if all things are not possible? Are you still living as if who you are and what you become is dependent on you and your abilities? Do you believe Jesus when He said “With God, all things are possible”? Do you believe that your redemption and sanctification is by the power of God? Are you living and loving yourself as a child of The King? Do your words reflect these beliefs?

Friend, your mind is a powerful tool. Romans 12:2 says “Be transformed by the renewing of the mind”. You can’t control other people or even many of your circumstances. The only thing you can control is YOU.  Changing how you think will change how you feel and how you act.

Change your thoughts. Change your life.

As often as necessary read this list. Throughout the day when your thoughts become negative call to mind whatever is lovely about you because of the work God has done and is doing in you.

Send me the printable, please!

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You may feel silly and doubtful about the power of thinking and speaking “whatever is lovely” but let me ask you a question. How’s the critical, name-calling, demeaning, belittling words you’ve been speaking to yourself for years working for you? Probably not very well. Let’s try something better.

I hope you’ll use the What to Say When You Talk to Yourself list and start today thinking and speaking the lovely truth about who you are in Christ.

If you would like additional help with your mindset and overcoming negative thought patterns, you can contact me about a coaching session. I provide in-person (if you’re local) and telephone sessions. Click here if you’d like more information.

Free Printable

I use this list of affirmations often. It’s just the right size to fold in half and tuck into your Bible or journal.

young man stands knee deep in Lake McDonald looking at Glacier National Park Mountains

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