My kids seem to need a soundtrack from the moment they wake up until they sleep. They play music in the car, while they do their homework, when they exercise and even when they walk through the house. Many years ago there were things called cassette tapes which would be put into a cassette player to listen to some great 80’s music. Now of course, there are all kinds of ways to listen to music with iPods, MP3 players and even cell phones. As easy and accessible as these forms of music recordings are, old-fashioned cassettes are what I picture when I say to myself, “Stop playing those negative tapes in your head!”
All of us have an ongoing internal dialogue throughout the day. I talked with a few friends about what they say to themselves and here are some negative head tapes they shared with me:
“I can’t handle this!”
“I’m going crazy!”
“I messed up.”
“I don’t deserve this good thing happening to me. Something bad will happen now.”
And the ever-popular name-calling, “I am stupid, clumsy, lazy…”
My personal collection includes two hit tapes, “Depressing Thoughts,” and “Anxiety!” I have found that it doesn’t help to stop playing a negative tape. What needs to happen is a replacement recording.
Aside from my daily bible reading, prayer time and listening to sermon messages, there are a few things I do when my spirit is down. I count my blessings. If I am having negative thoughts about my body for example, I thank God that I have two healthy feet so I can walk on my own. I have eyes to see and ears to hear and mind that can think. There are so many other things to be grateful about but that is a start.
Another thing I do when I am depressed is praise God. I listen to worship music and sing at the top of my voice while I am doing housework or driving. When I don’t have any words, I read the psalms out loud and that eases my sorrow. Sometimes it takes a few hours, or it may take a few days but that is how I get through my low times.
For anxious thoughts that begin with “What if…” I say to myself, “If it is not happening now, it is not happening,” and that gets me through the moment. When I feel overwhelmed and think, “I can’t handle this!” I replace it with “This is hard, but I can do it.” Deep breathing, relaxation exercises, praying and meditating on God’s word are other tools that help in my battle with anxiety. Challenges make me fret and I may not be able to stop negative thoughts from popping into my head but I am learning I have the control to replace the negative head tapes.
Maybe one day my unhelpful head tapes will be moldy oldies and I will have a continuous new soundtrack of affirming tapes to share like my favorite 80’s classic tape collection!