Tag Archives: spiritual resiliency

How to Conquer Negative Self-Talk

3 minutes to read

You make a mistake or cause a major foul up. What’s the audio loop that plays in your head? Does it include words like stupid or bonehead? Do you accuse yourself of always messing up or never getting it right? Given the choice between a benign spin on your actions or berating yourself do you inevitably choose to give yourself a couple of swift kicks? You’ve embraced negative self-talk.

How to Conquer Negative Self-Talk

You Cannot Control Your Thoughts

Despite all of the articles and blog posts purporting to teach you how to control your thoughts you can’t. Harvard University psychologist Daniel Wegner’s research has shown that trying very hard not to think about something almost guarantees that you will think about it. But you don’t need a Ph.D. to know this is true. Think about the last time your spouse or child criticized you. The harder you tried to forget it the more often it came to mind. Perhaps just reading this article has stirred a recollection of some regrettable blunder. Sorry about that.

Part of the problem is we talk to ourselves all day long. But most of the time we pay little attention to the dialogue going on in our heads. We focus on upcoming tasks or music. These drown out harmless daily musings.

We’ve been conditioned to reject positive self-talk. We fear that if we verbalized these thoughts, we’d be labeled conceited or narcissistic. So, like our neutral self-talk, we habitually discard the upbeat things we think about ourselves.

That leaves negative self-talk as the only inner voice we embrace. No wonder when something goes wrong you hear your inner critic loud and clear. It has an open microphone in your head and a captive audience.

Verbalize Positive Self-Talk

So if intentional thought control doesn’t work, what does?

Drown out the negative chorus chanting in your mind.

While general affirmations are fine, you’ll do better to write specific ones aimed at conquering the worst things you say about yourself. If your inner voice scolds you for lacking self-control, combat it by saying out loud and with conviction, “I am disciplined. I control myself and do not succumb to temptation.”

When recommending this to a woman who sought my counsel she felt saying such a thing would be dishonest.

So is it true you’re always the negative view of yourself? I doubt it. The best way to make positive change is to see yourself as already having accomplished it. In that light, positive self-talk is more honest.

You may feel uncomfortable or silly at first. If so find a private place where you won’t be interrupted. I’ve used the shower and my car. Just like singing, you get nice resonance in the shower.

You cannot turn off negative self-talk. But you can conquer it by replacing the impulse to self-criticism with the habit of self-understanding. Some of the skirmishes will be disappointing but it’s a war well worth winning.

How do combat negative self-talk? Please comment below.

How to Have an Easy Life

Life is full of challenges, isn’t it? Making ends meet, relationship problems, disasters, sometimes they are overwhelming. The solace of a comfortable, easy life beckons. But if you actually got that comfortable, it would be a disaster.

How to Have an Easy Life

The Problem of an Easy Life

Have you noticed how children from families who cushioned them from every problem are unable to handle the ups and downs of life? They lack the skills to deal with challenges. As well, since they never face difficulties, they don't have the confidence and resilience to overcome obstacles.

According to Reader’s Digest, 70% of people who win the lottery lose or spend all of their money in five years or less. Attaining wealth without struggling seems to make life worse.

Such is the curse of an easy life. For young people, it hampers or prevents their development into self-sufficient adults. For adults, they lose the wherewithal to successfully overcome challenges.

The Remedy for a Hard Life

When all is said and done, you have two choices when faced with hardship:

  • Resent it or become depressed about how difficult your life is.
  • Find a purpose and mission in life that gives meaning to hardship.

If you choose the first option, your life will be bitter and hard. Resentment only makes difficulties more challenging because it creates an expectation that your life should be better. And that expectation will inevitably go unfulfilled.

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By finding your purpose and mission in life, you have a reason not just to endure hardship but learn from it. Such growth leads to greater resilience and self-respect, making troubles more easily borne.

Join With People Who Seek Growth

Historically religion gave meaning to people’s lives by giving them aspirations. Reasons to endure hardship include attainment of life after death or personal growth. Denominations that have strayed from this purpose have lost adherents in droves.

Being part of a community of believers striving to improve themselves supports everyone’s ability to reframe negative events. By accepting the inevitability of difficulties and surrounding yourself with people who face them purposely you will make your life as easy as it gets.

What Are Your Expectations for Life? 

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The Greatest Solace You’ll Ever Feel

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Eikev – Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25

Ever have one of those days when if it weren’t for bad luck you wouldn’t have any luck at all? Me too. Mystified by why events seem to be spinning out of control, I need something to get me through. Parshas Eikev has the answer for getting life back under control:

…not by bread alone does man live…” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 8:3)

The Greatest Solace You’ll Ever Feel

In this Sabbath’s parsha Moses talks about the reward the Children of Israel will reap if they stay true to the mitzvahs (usually translated commandments), warns them against being seduced by prosperity, and reminds them of their history.

The above verse may be misquoted more than any adage in the English language. Most often it’s used as an affirmation to support the idea a person needs gourmet food. Don’t get me wrong. I love great food! However, if the other half of the quote is included, “not by bread alone does man live, rather by all that emanates from G-d’s mouth does man live,” you can see that the point is another kind of nourishment.

If you want to survive the challenging times in life, look to what the Almighty has said: Scripture, especially the Psalms. For the disorientation of contemporary life and a wounded psyche, G-d provides a balm.

“I raise my eyes on the mountain, whence will come my help? My help is from G-d, Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to falter, your Guardian will not sleep.” (Psalm 121:1-3)

The Almighty is ever attentive to your needs, always available. The Psalms have provided tranquility, sympathy, and cheer for thousands of years.

Don’t wait for distressing times. When was the last time you fed your soul? Genesis affirms the Creator brought the world into being by speaking words. By saying tree, grass, and fish he created them. So everywhere you look, that which came from G-d’s mouth is there to inspire and comfort you. Each day fortify yourself with a little of His ample blessing to the world.

When you are feeling blue or adrift, remember, solace is not in food, or at least food alone. The wonder of creation surrounds you with beauty and the words of Scripture inspire and bring you comfort, that you may live!

How do you use G-d’s bounty to sustain you?

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Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Do You See the Real You?

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Shelach – Numbers 13:1-15:41

Yesterday was a great day. Two colleagues sincerely professed shock at learning my age. One sat almost speechless for several minutes, unable to fathom I am five years older than he is. Being intentional about my diet and consistent with exercise really pays off sometimes. Because it’s easy to fall into the trap reported in this week’s parsha, Shelach:

In our eyes we were like grasshoppers and so we were in their eyes. (Numbers/Bamidbar 13:33)

Do You See the Real You?

Along with the story of the infamous twelve spies that led to G-d’s decree that the Israelites wander in the wilderness for 40 years, this week’s parsha details the meal and libation offerings that were brought with animal sacrifices. Next it covers the penalty for desecrating the Sabbath, then the commandment to wear tzitzis, fringes, on the corners of a garment.

Notice how curious the above verse is?

In essence the spies were so overawed by the Nefilim (giants) they lost faith in themselves and in G-d’s ability to fulfill His promise of bringing the Children of Israel to the Promised Land. They compounded their mistake by assuming the Nefilim saw them as insignificant vermin. But the giants were used to being around regular-sized people. They had no reason to think the spies were less significant than anyone else.

Compare this story to David and Goliath. A young, seemingly insignificant shepherd won the day by defeating a giant. David, who was small in stature, did not suffer from an inferiority complex. Rather, he trusted in his ability and in the Almighty’s help.

Do you find yourself facing insurmountable obstacles? Are they really so overwhelming or is self-doubt causing you to fail before you’ve begun? When you appear as a grasshopper in your own eyes it’s natural to assume you appear so in other’s eyes.

Think back to the time when your spouse thought you were the greatest, your children knew you could do anything, your friends marveled at your achievements. False visions you say! Really? Or is it that somewhere along the line a few things didn’t go your way and you lost faith in yourself. Few of us our giants, so don’t worry if you compare unfavorably with the Nefilim. But everyone, including you is, or was, truly a giant at one time and can be that giant again.

How much more could you accomplish if you saw yourself clearly, trusted in G-d’s help, and assumed others see you as a resourceful, able person?

What do you do to strengthen your self-image? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

Being Tolerant Can Improve Your Life

Errare humanum est – To err is human ~ Alexander Pope

Spend time with navy chief petty officers and you will be treated to copious stories of colossally bad judgment and virtually an equal number of redemptive tales. Learning life’s lessons the hard way used to be the hallmark of senior enlisted sailors. These days sailors have fewer opportunities to recover from what I call the “big stupid.”

Being Tolerant Can Improve Your Life

Are you like me? As a kid I took enough foolish risks that it’s virtually a miracle I reached adulthood intact. And those were downright tame compared to ones I took as a young adult that should have landed my in jail or worse. A little less good luck and who knows where I’d have been without the ability to redeem myself. (Don’t worry Mom, I don’t do such things anymore – well except the whole navy thing but that’s different isn’t it?)

Growth comes from reclaiming yourself after you make mistakes, small and large. So the one strike and you’re out nature of zero tolerance has deleterious effects on personal development and a host of other issues:

  1. It discourages risk taking. While taking foolish risks is, well, foolish, taking calculated risks is the hallmark of dynamism that spurs you to greater success, be it professional, in relationships, or serving G-d.
  2. It inhibits heuristic (a great word that means “hands on”) learning. Think about how much you’ve learned from experience verses books and classes. Hands on learning instills the most enduring lessons.
  3. It devalues those who aren’t academically inclined. Perhaps you don’t absorb book-based learning particularly well. Trial and error is your path to success. Should you be held back by fear that you may say or do something on your road to education that has permanent consequences?
  4. It’s wasteful. There aren’t any acts that should necessarily bar you from the path of redemption. What about murder you say. Well, it’s true I don’t think Charles Manson should leave prison alive. But we have parole boards to make such decisions on a case-by-case basis. For mistakes that are not as dire, such as saying something stupid, the professional consequences can be all but permanent. Wouldn’t it be better to let the person learn his lesson and move on?
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Ironically, zero tolerance policies thrive at a time when pleas for tolerance have never been greater. I have written about tolerance before, how it’s something you give not receive. What I’m suggesting here is that it be given more generously. By being more tolerant of people’s mistakes you will create empathetic relationships.

You may have you own zero tolerance policies. Are they serving you and your family or are they holding you back?

What should absolutely never be tolerated?

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