A priest once told me each one of us has three voices within that are speaking all the time: the voice of the Holy Spirit, the voice of the devil, and your own voice. The important point is being able to discern which voice is which, and more importantly, to which voice you are paying the most attention.
If you’ve gone through a divorce and are in the rebuilding phase, chances are you’ve come out the other side with a not-so-accurate picture of how things really are, namely, your perception of yourself. If you experienced bitterness, betrayal, rejection because of your physical or other human imperfections, angry arguments with hurtful words, etc., the emotional residue of these events can easily creep into your thought process and change the way you see yourself. Not everyone is susceptible to this but many are.
For example, when a friend of mine was going to counseling after her divorce, it came out that she believed she was overweight, despite the fact that she was slim and never had weight issues her entire life. But her ex-husband had always told her “I like skinny girls” and thus, her primary goal was to be the skinniest woman around, therefore, the one he would like the most.
This struggle to be the most beautiful woman he would ever encounter morphed into a personal belief that she was not good enough for him. She would constantly tell herself how terrible she was for not being more attractive and more self-disciplined about her weight.
Pride and vanity were certainly playing a role in this problem because she let herself believe her self-worth was rooted in how attractive her body was. But unquestionably, her fears were inflamed by her ex-spouse’s desire to be with someone skinny. After a while, her husband’s voice became the voice inside her head, constantly steering her away from food, constantly causing her to loathe herself because of her “weight problem.” When her husband left her in the end, the way he had spoken to her had transformed the way she spoke to herself. His rejection of her was her rejection of herself as a good and worthy human being.
The way you speak to yourself about yourself is critical. It’s also a very simple issue that most people understand but don’t recognize within themselves. When you make a mistake at work, do you automatically say to yourself, “I’m such an idiot!”? If something goes wrong with a project or plan, do you tell yourself, “Right, that’s just my luck”? Or if you don’t get a response to an email in a timely manner, do you begin wondering if you offended the recipient?
The dangerous side to this is your inner voice can easily drown out that of the Holy Spirit, your God who loves you and is always inspiring your thoughts in the direction of truth and beauty. Not being able to hear the voice of God can easily parlay into an unintentional allowance of the devil to further influence you. We all know The Evil One never lets a good struggle go to waste.
If your inner voice is telling you something – “You’re depressed!”; “You’re crazy!”; “You’re a failure!”; “Nobody wants you!” – the devil’s whispers are only amplifying these sentiments. He’s right beside you, fanning the flames of discouragement and doubt.
So how do you change this mode of thinking and operating? First, pray. Second, pay attention to how you talk yourself through different situations and make an effort to change the negatives.
If you pray first, your spiritual antennae will be raised and you will receive the inspirations He wants to give you; you are good, you are loved, and you are precious. Then, it’s up to you to begin re-training the way you think of and talk to yourself. This step, just like many others you have to take after divorce, is a process. It’s rarely achieved overnight, but with practice, the success rate is very high and you can have a completely different outlook on life.
No matter what your circumstances, always remember these words: Can a mother forget the child at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will never forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are always present before me – (Isaiah 49: 15-16).