When Positive Self Talk Isn’t Enough

on August 18, 2014 in Gal Stuff, Perfectly Unique with 26 comments by


It’s been many a year that I have wrestled and worked through how to deal with the lies in my head about how God made me and who I am and how I look. It’s always been a big deal to me. Good gravy, I wrote a book about it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle.

The lies still come. Sometimes they are a whisper when I am walking onto a stage, sometimes they are a quick cut when I see a picture of myself, and other times, they scream. They scream in a way I cannot describe- they are constant and vulgar and violently unkind.

And when the lies get loud like that in my head – the ones that say I am painfully ugly, unlovablely fat, ruined, unsalvageable, disappointing, etc. – the first step, I have learned, is to invite truth in. So I stand there, or sit there, or lie there, and I say the true things.

God made me on purpose.

God loves me unconditionally.

God doesn’t make ugly.

Bible verses long memorized about who I am, how I was made perfectly, and how God treasures me.

And repeat repeat repeat.

If you’ve never struggled with self-hate, maybe this doesn’t make sense to you. But sometimes, even when you say the true thing over and over and over again, your brain cannot hear it. And for me? That’s when I know it’s bad.

When the truth, from the Bible into my mind and out of my mouth, doesn’t resonate with my heart after a few days (yes, days) of saying it, writing it, singing it, and choosing it, well… that’s bad.

Sometimes, for me, when the mean voices get too loud, positive self-talk isn’t enough.

It’s been that way, in recent days. Sometimes there is a trigger, an event or experience that sends me down the self-hate rabbit hole, but this time, nothing. I can tell you a few things I know- summer is usually harder because it gets hot and sweaty and it makes me feel unhappy, I can pinpoint a few experiences lately that would be knocks to any gal’s self-esteem, but nothing out of the ordinary. So I can’t tell you where it started. I just know the self-talk wasn’t working and I was falling farther and farther.

Because this has been my struggle for years (YEARS), I have learned what to do next- the next level of arsenal. Besides the yelling out to God for rescue from the onslaught, I do a few other things to mute the lies.

Hang up words.

And so I did. On my mirror. This beautiful print from Aliza Latta now hangs in my bathroom, forcing itself on me every morning.

Tell somebody.

I did. I told my counselor this week- I spoke the lies to her, the ones that have screamed at me recently. I told her where I heard them and who was there and what I was wearing and way more detail than she could ever want. When someone else knows, it’s better.

Go on a walk.

I know. It sounds ridiculous. But for me, the farther down the self-hate hole I am, the more I sit still. So I head out, through my neighborhood, for twenty minutes or so, just to move.

Do something kind for yourself.

I’ve been living on a strict budget this summer, so when my normal makeup ran out, I used some I found in a drawer. (I’m cheap. Sorry.) But on Saturday, I popped over to the mall and replaced the few essentials I use daily. It may sound silly, but it mattered to me. So I did some creative budget shifting, and found some moola for the makeup I really like.

And you know what? I’m feeling better. The lies are less than, and there were days this weekend when I didn’t hear them at all. I’m not mad at myself for struggling, but my guard is up now and I’m watching with a protective eye over my own mind and heart.

So why tell you this? Because I guarantee I’m not alone. I am sure, like 100% sure, that one of you reading this feels this with me. And if that’s you, I just want you to know you aren’t alone.

You aren’t alone in this fight. I’m here too. And God is with us.

“Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath. Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.”

— Psalm 34:17-19 (The Message)

. . . . .


  1. posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 6:43 AM  |  reply

    Brave words Annie. Bless you for sharing them.
    I’ve got a short but sweet list of friends who get to hear the lies. They’re friends who don’t tell me to stop talking when words get difficult but simply listen and ask me good questions like “why” and “is that true” and when I’m not sure, they tell me the answers. I’m grateful for them.

  2. Katelin
    posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 7:09 AM  |  reply

    I’ve been there too. I’m so glad you were brave enough to share. I love your idea of moving. For me walking in nature gets me to stop thinking about myself and instead praise God.

  3. Stephanie
    posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 7:15 AM  |  reply

    I needed this post this morning. I would go so far as to say that God put your tweet in my path at the right time. I understand, oh, so well!

    Today it’s not the lies about my body, but I’m hating on myself because I feel my body/mind going back into a depression rut that has been miraculously absent for most of the summer. And now that the stresses of a new school year are upon me, I’m going into fight/flight mode. So I needed this reminder to be honest, to be brave and to reach out to Jesus. And to others. It’s hard to be the one running from the dark giant…who has to reach out to others to help. But I’m learning (slowly) that this is the Body of Christ. And that it is good.

    Thanks for your bravery – you kinda gave me the push I need to be brave enough to talk to someone today rather than wait until I’m desperate. 🙂

    • Gale
      posted on Aug 19, 2014 at 12:24 PM  |  reply

      “It’s hard to be the one running from the dark giant…who has to reach out to others to help. ”

      So nicely put, Stephanie. It’s what I live, and I’ve never heard it from someone else’s experience as well.

  4. Jan
    posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 8:12 AM  |  reply

    Love your honesty. Definitely a struggle of most women. Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks, for being real, and for being brave.

  5. Heather
    posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 8:52 AM  |  reply

    Thanks for telling us your story Annie. I had noticed your silence lately…I hoped it had to do with the busyness of the release of Brave. Your heart is so beautiful, as is your passion for life. And I love hearing your voice and your laugh in all the crazy videos you post. But I also know that hearing someone else say positive things about you and believing that they are true are two different things. So I pray that you will continue to hear God’s voice instead of Satan’s lies. God bless you and keep you and may His love shine around you.

  6. posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 9:13 AM  |  reply

    Thanks for such an honest post. I have struggled with this for as long as I can remember. I have an identical twin sister and we both deal with self-esteem issues. Ironically, when we were going through our turbulent teenage years we used to tell each other how ugly and fat the other one was…and we looked exactly the same, ha. We are thirty now and still dealing with it (thankfully without the name calling).

    I went home to visit my family a few weeks ago and my sister (who is beautiful and strong, literally super strong, she owns a CrossFit gym) told me that she and her friends (who are also beautiful) often sit around and talk about what type of plastic surgery they would like to get. She told me “…I bet people don’t think that this is what we sit around and talk about.”

    Thank God that He offers healing for our brokenness.

  7. Mandy
    posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 11:33 AM  |  reply

    Amen, sister, amen. Thank you for sharing your brave soul. The lies and mean voices taunt me daily – some better than others, but knowing we aren’t alone gives such a sense of peace and relief.
    You are altogether Beautiful, Beautiful in every way.


  8. Julie
    posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 11:51 AM  |  reply

    Thank you for writing this today. My spirit needed these words and it felt like God was saying them to me through you.

  9. Kristi
    posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 12:56 PM  |  reply

    Bless you for sharing your struggles and for the ideas of what you do to repel the lies. I think the hardest part of struggling with the lies is now watching my teenage daughter join the ranks of those of us who fight this battle. The message on the mirror idea will become a fixture in our home. Thank you for being BRAVE.

  10. posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 1:12 PM  |  reply

    How I needed this post today….

  11. Morgan
    posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 1:20 PM  |  reply

    This is right on. And as Christian women, there is this expectation that we should feel “enough” because we have Jesus. But we all feel empty and less sometimes. I love your makeup splurge. Sometimes we feel guilty when “worldly” things put a small smile on our faces. Bravo to you!

  12. Bernadette
    posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 1:29 PM  |  reply

    Beautiful! thank you so much…as a 16 year old girl this post was much appreciated 🙂

  13. posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 1:31 PM  |  reply

    Amen, sister. I just wrote a blog post on this sort of thing last week! I am thin and “pretty” by the world’s standards but struggle so much with my body image and self-esteem. Rheumatoid arthritis robbed me of the teeny tiny super healthy body, and so this one feels fat and ugly and jiggly. It’s embarrassing to say that, but since you were brave enough to share, I wanted to chime in for solidarity. 🙂 The more we sisters open up about these inner struggles, the more we can encourage each other and stand together as we fight the lies! Big hugs coming your way, Annie. 🙂

  14. posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 1:38 PM  |  reply

    I love this post! I have seen God transform my life through the power of His truth. He has torn down so many lies in my life that I believed for so long. Each of these ideas are great suggestions. There is power is coming out from isolation. In talking to a trusted friend or seeing a counselor. I love being out in nature- it brings refreshment to my soul and brings my focus off from myself and back onto God. Thank you Annie for being real, vulnerable, and an example to so many!

  15. posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 4:02 PM  |  reply

    Annie, I needed this so much. Thank you for living that book title of yours and being brave. Can you share some of the Scriptures you turn to when you’re having those moments of self-loathing?

  16. Nicole
    posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 4:07 PM  |  reply

    I absolutely love this, Annie. I read along nodding my head up and down. I needed to hear this today. Thank you for being so transparent. Thank you for being brave!

  17. Elizabeth
    posted on Aug 18, 2014 at 10:49 PM  |  reply

    Amen. Thank you for these words. I am currently reading your book. I share many similar peaks and valleys in my own story. And this weekend I needed these words this weekend. Thank you

  18. posted on Aug 19, 2014 at 7:37 PM  |  reply

    This made me cry. I’ve become aware of my struggles recently and this message hit home. Thank you for your kind words

  19. Tammy W.
    posted on Aug 19, 2014 at 11:57 PM  |  reply

    I do understand that we need to replace lies with truth, and simply sharing with a friend and getting out into God’s creation can do wonders when our thoughts are running rampant. But can’t focusing on self be a problem, too? I mean, thinking about how beautiful or ugly we think we are both reflect a self-focus. Instead of magnifying our own (real or perceived) strengths or weaknesses, triumphs or failures, doesn’t the grace God gives through the gospel empower us to esteem others and serve them, as well as focus our gaze on God–not for what He can do for us, in helping us feel valued and beautiful, but for Who He Is?

  20. Katie
    posted on Aug 20, 2014 at 9:34 AM  |  reply

    Annie Downs, why are you so great?! Thank for you for being brave and speaking words I’ve long held in my own heart for years. I’m walking right there with you sister!

  21. posted on Aug 20, 2014 at 1:16 PM  |  reply

    I just finished up “Let’s All Be Brave,” and have already given copies to three people as gifts. Because, I’m finding out that all of us struggle in one way or another.

    This blog post hit hard…but not necessarily for how I see myself. More for my son.

    I have a son (Well, I have 3 sons and one girl, but they are beside the point. FOR NOW!) Our oldest son has Down Syndrome, and he is so, so, so precious. My heart is very tender toward him. Two years ago, my husband’s job moved us away from the familiar place where our kids grew up…to a new place where we don’t know anyone, and they don’t know us. And they certainly don’t know Joshua. He is 28 years old and he lives at home with us. Some days are really hard…I want him to feel at home and accepted…in town and IN CHURCH…and we don’t have the support base that we have always had in the past. He senses it, and it breaks my heart for him.

    So, I’m trying to tune out the lies of “they don’t like him,” or “there’s no place for him here,” or “he’ll never fit in here.” And my brave is to keep telling myself your three things: God made him on purpose, God loves him unconditionally…and God doesn’t make ugly. All things I have known and believed since he was born. “Fearfully and wonderfully made,” can I get an AMEN?

  22. posted on Aug 20, 2014 at 6:27 PM  |  reply

    “Take a walk”…
    Man, this is good advice, and so true. Get up out of bed and move around. Get busy. Those things help me soooo much, too.
    Thank you for such a grandly honest post, Annie.

  23. Hannah
    posted on Aug 22, 2014 at 6:22 PM  |  reply

    Hey Annie! I follow your blog and have read your first book (can’t wait to read the others too!) You are such a champion! Thank you for being courageous to share your heart and your struggles! You are such an inspiration!

  24. posted on Sep 25, 2014 at 3:19 PM  |  reply

    […] already hearing this in our heads. We tell it to ourselves. My friend Annie wrote a fantastic post about negative self-talk and the toll it can take, and that’s without anyone saying anything […]

  25. Jen
    posted on Feb 09, 2015 at 11:51 PM  |  reply

    I have been struggling with self hate for a good portion of my life. I came across this blog post on Pinterest when I searched “losing faith in myself”. I was looking for something to let me know I am not the only one who deals with this and it led me here. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. Its a very familiar tale for me. The bible passage you posted made me tear up. I haven’t been to church in a long time and I need to repair that relationship with God. That passage was a perfect reminder that he is there waiting for me to come back to him.

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