I think I can… I think I can… I think I can… the little steam train and many other stories illustrate how we ‘talk’ to ourselves. ‘Come on, you can do this’ or even ‘nou’t ek kak aangejaag’ are examples of how we attempt to order our lives by employing artificial objectivism as we assume the role of teacher for ourselves! A good motivational pep talk surely has it’s place as we encourage ourselves to run up a hill we really want to walk, a pre-rugby game ‘op-psyche’ to eliminate fear and transform our adrenalin into aggression, a ‘just stay calm’ in traffic or a ‘count to ten’ before I tell a colleague what I think of her. But the person speaking and the person listening is still the same person, and although our self-talk can assist in some ways and make a difference, the very fact that you have to say them proves that something in your heart or mind is not there, where you want to be. Speaking to ourselves can easily become repetitive, cheap and ineffective. We need to hear things on a deeper level if we want it to penetrate our patterns of thought and habit.
A better way we can consciously speak to ourselves is through deeds. I say conscious, because we are doing this automatically every single day, without realising it. Our actions and behaviour reinforces unexpressed thought patters as it solidifies in our character through deeds. Our actions first reflect our insides, but then our actions create our insides! We believe what we do. As simple as that. Surely there is a place for spiritual or inner transformation, changing from the ‘inside’ out. I’m all into and for that. The best way to live is through a natural overflow of the soul. The problem is if we find our insides to be broken or weak. One could argue that this needs fixing not by trying harder or being legalistic, yet prayer or meditation like silence, journaling and reflection are still all efforts and deeds! The end-goal should not be mechanistic obedience or artificial compliance, the end goal is indeed a heart transformed. The question is: how to transform our inner beings?
My suggestion here, no, my realisation in my own life, is that I have to tell myself what the good life is by doing it. Planned practice and discipline are the keys to unlocking doors of greater maturity and depth. That is not a new thought. We are not the first humans to be faced with this reality and choice. Yet, in todays world, in todays churches and todays seminars we prefer language and knowledge over discipline and instruction.
I know that in my life I reinforce my beliefs and values every day. They run on momentum, so when I start to lose it, I can get more and more lost. When I make a brave decision it seems to introduce further smart choices. In this way, how early I get up on a Sunday morning and how I reflect, says something about my desire to be ‘grounded, growing, good’; and then when I had to buy a car I was aware of my temptations and desires. I could choose to act out my beliefs and not to embrace temptations through rationalisations. Having a ‘different’ friend over for dinner, knowing they can’t return the favour, might not feel rewarding in the present, but you announce to yourself what kind of a person you want to be.
The things we tell ourselves will bear fruit, they will germinate and manifest in other, unexpected areas of our lives. It’s a game of momentum and whether you play it subconsciously or consciously does not influence the fact that the game is being played; always. As in most games it helps to know the rules, have a strategy, learn the skill and execute the play.
Every deed affirms and engrains an underlying belief. So we literally choose what we believe, through speech and deeds.
What is important to me? What is my definition of the good life is? What am I committed to?
Comfort or Growth?
I make my own compass, daily, through my deeds.
We are all craftsmen.
If I make selfish or short-sighted decisions, I am making a compass that can only take me in a few directions. I am limiting my own life.
Much grace is needed.
When much grace is given,
much action is required.
Let us not kid ourselves.
It’s actually simple
for anyone to see.