Monday, February 15, 2010

What to Say When You Talk to Yourself: Self Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild

Q & A with Jennifer Rothschild
Author of Self Talk, Soul Talk

This is posted by permission of Jennifer Rothschild.

What is soul talk?

Over the years, I have gradually learned what to say when I talk to myself, and that has truly made all the difference in my life. After years of struggling beneath the weight of my own slander and lies, I have learned to speak truth into my soul. It’s what I call soul talk.

How does soul talk work?

Everybody practices self talk, but few of us actually take time to think about the things we say to ourselves. The process is so natural we don’t even notice it. Amazingly, much of our self talk is false. The words we say shape the way we think about ourselves. They influence our emotions, our thoughts, and our decisions. They resurface in our conversations with other people. They can spur us on to live meaningful, productive lives, or they can drag us down to lethargy and despair. Soul talk is about replacing the lies you may have been telling yourself with the truth.

What kinds of struggles with self talk have you had personally?

My steady flow of disapproving thoughts and self talk once formed a constant stream. I badgered, nagged, devalued, and said cutting words to myself. At times, all those dark, negative put-downs have felt like a raging river, tossing me mercilessly until I thought I might drown in my own self-condemnation.

What was the physical setback that you faced in your teens?

At the age of 15, I became legally blind due to a disease called retinitis pigmentosa. Even though I received that difficulty with grace and resolve, the extra challenges of the disability and the knowledge that blindness was inevitable brought even more opportunities for me to struggle with negative thoughts and destructive self talk. For me, blindness is a circumstance that opens the door to a host of other bewildering issues. One of the biggest daily realities I face is the stress of not being able to drive, read, or enjoy independence.

What is the paradox of emotions?

If you try to think with your feelings, you’ll fall into all manner of false conclusions. Emotions are supposed to serve and strengthen us. Left to themselves, however, they enslave and deplete us. We need a thought closet well stocked with timeless truth, or we will clothe ourselves with the feelings of the moment.

How important is physical well-being including exercise and healthy eating?

Living a healthy lifestyle is so important to our mental well-being. Never discount the impact of physical wellness on our souls’ wellness. Feelings of despair might really be our bodies’ signal that we need to meet some basic needs. Your body needs adequate rest, healthy food, and moderate exercise.

How important is mental well-being? How can we stimulate this?

Brains like to be challenged. Your mind needs to have something to do, or it will create something to do—something that might not be so constructive. If you don’t fully strengthen your brain, it will wiggle and jiggle itself just to alleviate the dullness and find a channel for all its energy. Spend a few minutes each day reading something that interests and challenges you. Pick up a journal and record your thoughts and questions. Join a book club or audit a class from your local university. Feed your curiosity and you’ll stimulate an enjoyable, insatiable hunger.

How important is our spiritual well-being?

Hopelessness, fear and depression often grow out of unsatisfied longings. C.S. Lewis said, “If I can find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” We can try to fill the longing with relationships, religion, volunteerism, or just being good. But the deep ache from the bottom of our souls can only be satisfied in a relationship with God.

Is it healthy to remember the past? What memories should we revisit?

The real power of any moment is fully realized when it is remembered. The experience might have been painful or pleasant, but its intensity and meaning grow when we remember and reflect upon it. Remembering is essential to the health of our souls. So we must tell our souls to look back often. Memories store great anthologies of stories that tell us who we are. They become intimate reminders of our personal histories. However, tell your soul to look back only at what is profitable. Profitable memories are those that add to your soul wellness rather than subtract from it.

How destructive can fear become in our lives? What’s the alternative?

We can’t ever side with fear, because fear is never on our side. And we can’t let fear and despair shake and intimidate us. Fear betrays; hope never does. Fear and despair make us quiver; hope makes us unshakable. Rather than giving into fear and despair, we tell our souls to hope. Hope will always be on your side, cheering you on and defending you. Hope anchors us because it provides spiritual grounding. Hope brings stability to every part of our being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. We speak the language of hope when we tell our souls to look up.

How can we cope with our busy lifestyles? Where can we find time to rest?

Life is busy. The demands are great, and we seem to have no time for rest. So much of our self-talk is directed at revving ourselves up. Excessive revving up, however, only leads to petering out. Daily we must tell ourselves to chill out. Rest isn’t only for our tired bodies. Weary souls need it too—our wills, our minds, and our emotions. The choice to rest is ours.

How can we press on despite fear and failure?

Steady, small actions will slowly reduce the big feeling that is paralyzing you. Just because you have failed at something does not mean you are a failure. If you quit, the world will be lacking what you alone bring to it. If you continue to feed your feelings of failure and defeat, those dark emotions will grow, creeping across your soul like long winter shadows. But if you begin to starve those feelings, they will slowly die.

How can we become less selfish and “others centered”?

It’s our nature to lift ourselves up, to be egocentric. Looking back at my life, I can say for sure that the most miserable times of my life have been when I was the most self-centered, self-aware and self-promoting. When we tell our souls to get the spotlight off our own preoccupations and onto the needs of others, we reopen the potential for joy in our lives. Only selfless, other-centered people are truly happy. They have learned the all-important key. When we lift others up, we grow stronger, healthier and happier. Tweet It! Facebook


  1. Self Talk-Soul Talk, what a great concept!
    No one was more other-centered than our Lord Jesus.

    Thank you for a great post!

    God bless you, Ron

  2. Popped over from the Old Geezer blog, great post, thank you for sharing. Blessings. xxx

  3. Thank you, Raymonde. Nice to meet you and glad you liked it. :)

  4. Thank you for your comment on my blog - and you have a great idea! I will think hard on that.

  5. Popped over from Naked Man.. doesn't sound right does it but you know what I mean. This post is wonderful and truly is food for thought. Thanks for sharing.. I think soul talking is something you learn very gradually and not until you're well into your thirties or even forties!!!

  6. I couldn't agree with this more. Thanks for posting all of that.


  7. Thanks for all your comments Guys/Gals! They are much appreciated. :) xoxoxo

  8. Cheryl,
    Thank you for stopping by my post today. I have loved reading your blog!! I want to read Self Talk/Soul Talk!! It sounds WONDERFUL!! I have to tell you, you touched my heart with your sweet words in your comment. It is amazing to me how simple little things just make my day via the bloggersphere! Also, I read your profile...I used to live in Wichita!! I taught 8th grade science in Augusta for seven years!! I lived in Augusta most of the time, but then when my husband and I married, we moved to Wichita and officially lived there for two years. (Though anyone who lives in the Wichita and surrounding area towns was just as much a part of the city as those with the official address, right?!) I want to follow you, so I'm adding my name to your list. Also, if you wouldn't mind emailing me...could you tell me more about Book Sneeze? I'm very interested!!! Have a great day!

  9. Hi Jaime! Wow, it's a small world, isn't it? :) Sure, I'll send you my email and tell you more about Book Sneeze. Book Sneeze is very easy to do. All you have to do is go to, fill out a simple form, then pick an available book to review. I got my first book within 5-7 days. I read every single word (plus, I'm usually reading several books of my own simultaniously), so it took me 3 weeks to get it read and write my review. You post your review to your blog then go online again on booksneeze and let them know you posted your review, then you can choose another book. It very easy, and the books really are yours to keep--for Free! There's no gimicks or anything. I love it!