I love it when secular writers stumble across sacred truths. Whether reading a business book, a customer service blog, or a Harvard Business Review article, you’ll occasionally spot snippets of divine wisdom in the middle of routine prose.
But Seth Godin…oh boy, did Seth Godin ever push out some goodies in a recent post. If you’ve hung out here for long, you know he’s one of my favorite writers. He packs a lot of gems in a small area of square footage. And not long ago, he wrote this:
There’s no more important criticism than self criticism.
There’s no amount of external validation that can undo the constant drone of internal criticism.
And negative self talk is hungry for external corroboration. One little voice in the ether that agrees with your internal critic is enough to put you in a tailspin.
The remedy for negative self talk, then, is not the search for unanimous praise from the outside world. It’s a hopeless journey, and one that destroys the work, because you will water it down in fear of that outside critic that amplifies your internal one.
The remedy is accurate and positive self talk. Endless amounts of it.
Not delusional affirmations or silly metaphysical pronouncements about the universe. No, merely the reassertion of obvious truths, a mantra that drives away the nonsense the lizard brain is selling as truth.
You cannot reason with negative self talk or somehow persuade it that the world disagrees. All you can do is surround it with positive self talk, drown it out and overwhelm it with concrete building blocks of great work, the combination of expectation, obligation and possibility.
When in doubt, tell yourself the truth.
Tell yourself the truth. Talk to yourself about what you know, not about how you feel. Jerry Bridges (among others) refers to this as “preaching the gospel to yourself.”
That internal critic? Sometimes it’s our own voice telling us we don’t measure up. But often it’s the voice of our Enemy, screaming in a whisper that we don’t deserve the love of our Father.
The reason we have to preach to ourselves is that we forget. We wander. We slip away from the truths that keeps us tethered to the person of Truth. And so we have to preach the gospel to ourselves daily. Sometimes hourly. Sometimes second by second.
When in doubt, preach the gospel to yourself.
When you’re anxious, preach the gospel to yourself.
When you feel the guilt, when you’re suffering the pain, when you wonder if you’ll ever make it out of the hole, when Satan tempts you to despair, preach the gospel to yourself. Speak it loud. Speak it clear. Speak it often.
Where do you need to preach the gospel to yourself today?