Stop negative self-talk

Written by Kari Kampakis
Published on May 27, 2022

During parent night at our local junior high, the eighth-grade advanced English teacher explained his challenging, yet doable, curriculum.

He ended with this:

“I want my students to have a love for learning, not a fear of red marks.”

As a writer, I wanted to applaud. I’ve learned firsthand how good editing elevates a writer’s work. Once someone points out your mistakes, you don’t make those mistakes again. Also, with good editing comes fresh ideas that you’d never think of yourself. 

But with my first red-lined manuscript, I got a pit in my stomach. I felt like a massive failure as I scanned the document and saw the red marks jump out. Only when I sat down to read the edits did my attitude shift. My editor’s suggestions took the manuscript to the next level. I was thankful the book did not go to print in its original form.

Negative assumptions

We all want to be stronger, yet we live in fear of red marks. We look at our lives and despair over all the things that need correction. 

Rather than approach red marks with curiosity, a chance to grow and improve, we get defensive. We see red marks as signs of massive failure rather than evidence of life in a broken world.

When we look at ourselves and our lives, the flaws and holes jump out. We get swept up in our thoughts and emotions about what we think is wrong. This makes our minds spin out of control. It fixates our attention on negative assumptions that can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

It may sound like this:

I’m a terrible mom.

I’m ruining my kids.

I’ve done everything wrong.

• I’m just a maid/cook/chauffeur/bank.

• Nobody cares about me or notices when I’m gone.

• I should stop talking. I always say the wrong thing.

Filter through truth

I’ll never forget what a doctor told my mom after a health scare. Suddenly immobile, and with fear in her voice, my mom asked her, “What if I never walk again? What if I’m in a wheel-chair the rest of my life?”

The doctor paused and looked my mom straight in the eye.

Slowly and gently, she replied, “Be careful what you wrap your mind around. If you say you’ll never walk again, then you’ll never walk again.”

As a doctor, she understood the power of thoughts. She had seen firsthand how negative thoughts impacted a patient’s outcome and mental well-being.

Negative thoughts can sabotage you, and the best way to fight them and develop mature mindsets is to 1) ask God to transform and renew your mind and 2) take your thoughts captive and give them to Christ (Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 10:4–5).

Rather than leave your thinking to chance, or let the world tell you how to think, process your thoughts through the filter of truth.

Anchoring thoughts

You can counter negative talk with anchoring thoughts. Imagine how your life might change with these anchors in place:

I trust God to fill in the gaps of my imperfect life and parenting.

• God is with me and for me. Even if I lose confidence in myself, I can be confident in him.

I’m doing the best I can with a situation that is far from ideal. Even in these circumstances, I can build a great relationship with my child.

• My goal is to keep two feet on the ground. Right now, that is success.

• I can only take my children as far as I’ve come. Becoming a mentally strong mom helps me raise mentally strong kids.

• I’m not an accident. God created me with great intention because the world needs someone exactly like me.

• A healthy thought life deepens my love for Jesus, others, and myself. Thoughts that destroy these relationships aren’t from Him.

• What people say about me is an opinion. What God says about me is a fact. The way to know my worth is to focus on the facts.

A mind warrior

Negative self-talk robs you of your best life—it spirals into apathy, hopelessness, cynicism, and despair. The enemy will seize any chance to get inside your head, so don’t present an open door. Don’t ruminate on destructive thoughts.

Protect your mental health, and guard your heart and mind by reflecting on what is true, excellent, praiseworthy, and right (Philippians 4:8). 

Be a mind warrior, and know that your belief sets a trajectory for your life. They take you in a positive or negative direction, toward truth or lies, toward hope or uncertainty. Your mindset is your superpower, and when you allow the truth to shape it, you see the world through enlightened eyes.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).

Taken from “More than a Mom” by Kari Kampakis. Copyright 2022 by Kari Kampakis. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson.

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Kari Kampakis

Kari Kampakis is a bestselling author, blogger, and national speaker from Birmingham, Alabama. Her bestselling books for moms, More Than a Mom: How Prioritizing Your Wellness Helps You (and Your Family) Thrive and Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter, and books for teen girls, Liked and 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked: Whose Approval Are You Living For, have been used widely across the country for small groups studies. Kari’s work has been featured on Focus on the Family, the Today show, Today Parents, Yahoo! News, Grown & Flown, Thrive Global, Your Teen, For Every Mom, Motherly, FaithGateway, EWTN, Jesus Calling, Ann Voskamp’s blog, The Huffington Post, and other national outlets. She also hosts the Girl Mom podcast. Kari and her husband, Harry, have four daughters and a dog named Lola. Learn more by visiting or finding Kari on Instagram and Facebook.

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