I've heard about this concept of speaking life so many times growing up in church, BUT I've never really seen the gravity of it or the repercussions of what speaking death can do.
Speaking life is not simply positive thinking with phrases like "look on the bright side", "there's always a silver lining" it is so much more powerful than that.
Throughout my life, I have learned about the concept of storytelling, the power of the narrative, and specifically "My Story". Most people don't know this, but I studied theatre and performance studies as one of my minors in university and the focus was always on telling compelling stories. More recently I have learned that the story you tell yourself shapes how you see the world and how you move through it…you see, we are ALL guilty of telling ourselves bad stories, so I figured I would analyze where these stories come from in an attempt to understand & process because of #growth.
My opinion is that all stories come from thoughts, all thoughts over time give rise to an emotion or (lack of an emotion) which creates a behavior chain that can continue forever in a loop creating "thought patterns" or "thought distortions".
The behavior chain goes like this: Trigger --> Thought --> Action --> Behavior
If you are anything like me when you see the word "Trigger" you think of a deep emotional uncovered wound that someone is picking at and your first instinct is to NOT experience it, but in reality, a trigger is just a warning that a set of thoughts are about to emerge.….. before we go to that negative place, let's say it together "It's NOT that deep". We all have triggers and although sometimes it might be THAT deep, most of the time it's the beginning of a negative story that is simply NOT true even though it might feel real….. One thing to remember is our negative emotions are hardly ever true - meaning they are not grounded in reality but are usually a reflection of an unmet expectation that was never communicated.
This is where speaking LIFE comes in; for me speaking life means speaking truth over my life based on how God sees me and who is he has called me to be and the promise that he will see me through it all. This is easier said than done because depending on how you grew up – cut to Happy Father's Day…..do you mind if I talk about some daddy issues post, it might be hard for you to receive love, especially God's love, let alone his truth. More than ever this concept is so apparent to me because I didn't realize when I stopped seeing myself worthy of his love and when I started believing that I needed to prove I deserved love through my actions.
Backing up to the behavior chain for a second; how it typically works is that we are triggered by our environment (perhaps scrolling through Instagram, you see a cute baby – at first you are like "how cute") then all of a sudden a negative thought creeps in (when will I have my own cute baby?). You then proceed to overthink it ("well if I was even in a relationship, I would be closer to marriage and therefore closer to having one") and this leads us to a negative emotion or feeling (I feel sad because I have taken too long to settle down, it's my fault for pursuing this "independent- woman- I- don't -need -a -man attitude"). What we fail to recognize is that although the emotion is very real to us it is NOT necessarily true (As an individual, I’m not even close ready to have kids, like being responsible for another human? NOPE). At this point though, my anxiety starts to build because the brain thinks “I don't want to feel like this”, so we go into "fight or flight" mode because there is danger ahead if we dwell in this place. This thought causes us to "brace for impact" where your body tenses and then you react by either leaning into the sadness or running from it through distraction – potentially scrolling through Instagram and re-triggering yourself 10 more times. (Ladies & Gentlemen, this is one of the reasons social media can be so exhausting- you think you are just scrolling but it's just a series of triggers, thought, emotion, feeling, suppression and repeat). This happens enough times and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy or behavior…. A story that was written by you, starring you, directed by you, executive produced by you and God is saying girlllllll who told you this? please trade it in for my story, the one where I have worked it all out. He is saying, trust me - I called you, I will sustain you and that story about you dying alone with no cute babies has already been re-written. I have a future and a plan for you, just seat with me and I will reveal purpose to you. You don't have to walk in your strength, I got you! …… what we fail to understand is that it STARTS with surrendering, allowing HIM to be in control and speaking LIFE into your situation with the scriptures and the words he has written.
In the spirit of speaking life, here are some of the stories I am re-writing because as my little sister (shout out to Ibiwunmi) put it so aptly "I don't want to get bullied by myself".
a. Negative story – I'm working on too many work, school & personal projects, I am ALWAYS tired and because I'm tired, I can't do any of it productively which means I'm a slave to my energy levels. If my energy is always low, then I can't ever be consistent to finish any projects which is demotivating. If I’m not motivated, I have no energy and around and around the thought goes.
b. Positive Re-write – I have finished and accomplished SOOO many things by not relying on my strength but by leaning on God and allowing Him to sustain me because what he has called me to, he will sustain. This means he has not called me to EVERYTHING and maybe I need to reconsider my priorities.
a. Negative story – How am I ever going to be married when I've only ever had 1 relationship and it wasn't that great, how will I know what to do to keep it going? How am I sure I will pick the right person who will be supportive? How will I know how to communicate? How will I know what to do?
b. Positive Re-write – What God put together let no man pull apart, including ME. You will learn how to do it because you are committed to growth with the goal of progression NOT perfection. I remember one piece of advice I got when starting university that helped me understand capacity– it goes "university is hard and it's going to get harder BUT you are smart and you are going to get smarter faster than it gets harder" – basically saying the rate of your growth when you are determined to grow can be exponentially higher than the difficulty you face. Ultimately if you surrender it to God, he will direct your path.
I encourage you to search your hearts for the negative storylines you have adopted and see if you can re-write them. Don't forget that lessons are waiting around the corner and the more you ignore them the more they pile up, just ask the Israelites. They turned a 10-day trip to the promised land into a 40-year massacre they were never supposed to be in. So, once again, Speak LIFE – your life depends on it because we are not called to just merely survive BUT to also THRIVE.
There are few songs, I have been singing over myself to remind me I have value, I am worthy, and I don't need to prove that to God or any man/woman. Check them out below;
Maverick City – Man of your word
Maverick City – I am Loved
Not gonna lie, it has been a tough week, month, COVID year, and it can be very defeating to seat and dwell on negative feelings (fun fact: I have been writing this particular post for almost 2 months- most of my posts take me a couple of hours to write - so much to process).
This blog is quite literarily saving my life and mind because when I write I can release anxiety, frustration, feelings of unworthiness, guilt, pain and whatever else is lurking in the shadows….. best believe that I will NEVER stop speaking LIFE because HOPE is in my DNA as a Christian and ultimately I live by faith and not by sight.