I couldn’t decide if I wanted to smile or cry as I read the incoming text: “She is amazing, just doesn’t know it yet.” My friend was updating me on a young lady’s journey— one of self-doubt and, really… depression. The statement hit me hard. Aren’t we all teetering on the edge of loving ourselves one moment while beating ourselves up the next?  (Or is that just me?!) It’s a crazy, cluttered cycle of what we allow our minds to focus on through our inner voice.


I have been struggling with negative self-talk my whole life and it’s debilitating. Talk about mental clutter!  The 3lb. hunk of gray matter between our ears, IS the hardware of the soul (Henslin. This is Your Brain on Joy). Your thoughts WILL determine how you feel. No doubt about it! For example, if you and I were chatting, I would appear confident and pleasant… while telling myself all the reasons you probably don’t like me— which inevitably makes me FEEL insecure and, frankly…act ridiculous. I battle this whether talking to strangers, friends or family. THIS is the next leg of my decluttering journey; overcoming negative self-talk.

My weekend project was to deal with three bookshelves of varying sizes, with the goal being to consolidate down to only two. I love books, but I rarely will read the same one twice, which means I’m storing a lot of books I will never open again. As I began this arduous, dusty, task of sorting 500-600 books, I asked myself the following questions as I handled each one:

Is it useful?

Is it beautiful?

I’m not sure who originally came up with applying those two questions to the area of decluttering our homes, but they are SO effective! I was brutal with my answers; no book could remain on the shelf unless it was useful or beautiful. AND… I defined beautiful to include sentimental, which meant I could keep books like Dishy Washy, a favorite of Jessica’s and Cory’s when they were little.

Is it useful?

Is it beautiful?

As I worked my way through the bookshelves, I began thinking about the way I think; the thoughts I allow to take up residence in my mind. This was an incredible object lesson in how to filter out what I focus on.

Is it useful?

Is it beautiful?

I came up with a few strategies to help me intentionally foster more positive self-talk.

How to Release Negative Thoughts Cluttering our Minds:

  1. Choose a verse in the Bible to be your focus verse.

I have been using Psalm 19:14 to coach myself to better thinking. “Let the words of my mouth AND the meditation of my heart be acceptable in THY sight O Lord.” It’s my deliberate attempt to aim my attention away from the negative. I will begin quoting the verse to myself when tempted to harbor ugly thoughts.

  1. Confession

Rather than harbor shame and guilt, confess it to God and release it. Cue the music— Let it Go.

  1. Journal

Spend time with God… reading Scripture and writing down favorite verses, prayer requests and praises. What is God saying to you, personally?

  1. Pray a blessing over someone who has offended you.

This is a hard one for me, but totally effective. When I find myself rehearsing scenarios in my mind of what someone did to hurt my feelings or seriously offend me, I combat those thoughts with a simple prayer, asking God to bless them. It goes against everything in me, but… I want freedom in my thought-life. This gets more challenging, though, when it’s an offense against one of my kids. I go into Mama Bear syndrome in a big way! (I guess I need to go back to step #2!)

The struggle is real, I acknowledge that, and these are a few suggestions that are helping me.  It is by no means a complete list or foolproof- four-step formula… just a few current strategies I’m using and they’re working.

I ended the weekend with what has become a new routine for me; swinging by Goodwill after Olivia’s soccer game. It’s my way of systematically releasing the collected clutter.

And… whether it’s releasing clutter around the house or releasing negative self-talk clutter… remember…

Is it useful?

Is it beautiful?