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Michael Rosen, in his programme ‘Word of Mouth’ on Radio 4,  dealt with the subject of internal conversation, commonly known as ‘talking to yourself.’ This is something we all do, but it is not something we like to talk about. We may view this as entirely natural in childhood, but we often feel that it is a sign of weakness in adulthood and rarely see this processing of ideas in a useful light.

‘Internal monologue’ is not always one-sided conversation; we are perfectly capable of arguing with ourselves, adopting different positions and talking these through to try to to reach conclusions when facing decisions. Some may speak outloud; most of us have learnt to internalise these conversations, with some not even acknowledging these aspects of our thinking, often suppressing these thoughts.

Yet these conversations do exist and can be either a useful source of encouragement (as was the case in Derek Randall’s non-stop chatter during his innings of 150 for England against Australia in the fourth test at Sydney in 1979 which turned the tide in England’s favour) or (as is, alas, more frequently the case) an almost endless stream of negative commentary that ends up being utterly debilitating (‘you idiot, why did you do that? You’re useless!’)

What we say to ourselves, either about ourselves, others or our situations (and also what we say to ourselves about God), is extremely significant. This is why it is vital to check in on these internal conversations and monitor them as frequently and forthrightly as we do our audible speech to others.

What we say, whether to ourselves or to others, must pass the truth test. We must not lie to ourselves. We must not allow lies to be part of our internal conversations, for lies will skew our perspective and divert us from the paths of righteousness. We simply must not allow lies to become part of our internal conversations. All speech must be regulated by the truth of God’s word. Anything other than truth must be forcibly ejected from our speech and from our thinking.

‘I can’t help but worry. It’s who I am.’ This is a lie. When we worry, we are choosing to focus on something (real or hypothetical) and drawing negative conclusions only. God tells us not to worry and offers Himself as the miracle-working solution to every scenario. Who we are in Christ is radically different to who we were before we knew Him.

‘It’s only natural to be afraid.’ Maybe so, but if fear is paralysing us and robbing us of peace, we need to counter this with the truth that we can do all things through Christ’s strength, things which would otherwise terrify us. (Phil 4:13)

‘You don’t know what X has done to me. I can’t possibly forgive.’ This is another lie, since the command to forgive is unequivocal. By focussing on the offence instead of the glorious forgiveness which has set us free in God, we effectively refuse God’s grace in difficult circumstances.

The psalmist says, “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'” (Ps 91:2) We choose what we say and must learn to choose to speak what is true to ourselves. We must choose to speak truth about God, about ourselves, and about others. Often, we need to shake ourselves to do this (Ps 42:5,11). It’s far easier to repeat the lies we have heard than to aligh ourselves steadfastly with God’s word. But every conversation we have is in some ways a reflection of these internal conversations, so it behoves us to listen more to the Voice of Truth than any other voice and to confirm this voice by repeating truth and not lies to ourselves and then to others. Truth and love must be the tone and content of every conversation we have.