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Amanda Woodiel encourages moms not to accept negative self-talk from their children or from themselves.

“Don’t you wish you could put your kids into a jar and shake them up to even them out?” a family friend asked me over a cup of coffee.  

We had been discussing my first son and my third son. The first son, age 15, is ultra-confident in his own performance. After basketball games, he often rants about how the coach should’ve left him in, how he had been fouled, how he hadn’t fouled although it was called on him, and so on. I tried pointing out mildly that he hadn’t the energy to keep up with the other kids (let’s be fair to him—the kid was in chemo at the time) and that perhaps he needed a break. Or I would say that I heard the slap of his hand on the other kid’s arm (an obvious foul). No matter. I finally took to videotaping his games to try to give him a sense of his performance from the outside.  

My third son, age 10, is quite the opposite. If, in a normal baseball game, he walks once, gets a single, and then strikes out (a common enough occurrence for even major-league players), he will mutter about how he stinks at baseball. If he accidentally bobbles a drinking glass, he’ll exclaim, “Gosh, I’m so clumsy!” He’ll even apologize for something he never did, as though living in the house where someone left out the milk somehow makes him an accomplice.  

So this difference of personality is what we were discussing when my good friend mused aloud.  

For the older one, I figure the world will smooth out his self-perception soon enough; it seems pretty adept at beating people down. It’s the other one that concerns me. So every time I hear him engage in negative self-talk, I’ve taken to saying, “We aren’t allowed to tell lies … and that includes about ourselves.” He’ll grin and roll his eyes. “Mommmm.”   

My little admonishment must’ve worked on some level because recently I bemoaned something about myself (I can’t remember what exactly), and my third son piped up, “Mom, we can’t tell lies … even about ourselves.”

Ouch. He’s right.  




Most of us do have lies about ourselves running through our heads, at least occasionally. These lies are discouragement from the devil trying to tear us down, to make ourselves believe that we are unlovable and have nothing to offer the world (or to our families). As followers of Jesus Christ, who is the Truth, we must resist this at all costs! We cannot tell ourselves lies, even about ourselves. The most efficacious way I’ve found to battle this is to name it, renounce it, and proclaim the truth! Here’s an example: “I renounce the lie that I’m ugly and proclaim the truth that I am beautiful.” “I renounce the lie that I’m an idiot and proclaim the truth that God has given me gifts.”  


Click to tweet:
Make an act of the will to proclaim the truth, however unlikely it may seem to you at the moment. #CatholicMom


Here’s the thing: you don’t actually have to believe it in the moment. Remember that emotions are often not reliable indicators of truth. What you do need to do is make an act of the will to proclaim the truth, however unlikely it may seem to you at the moment. Maybe doing this is an act of faith for you. But it’s important to do because words have power. After all, Jesus is the Word of God. Over time, these words will sink into your soul, and they will shape what you believe.   

For me, these negative narratives ramp up when I’m about to do something good. It might be going to Confession, attending a women’s meeting, or even reaching out to a new family. Whatever it is, I have come to expect pushback in the spiritual realm, which most often manifests as a lot of negative self-talk narratives whispered into my head. For example, this year my husband and I have hosted a series of talks at our house to which everyone in the parish is invited. These happen monthly, and predictably, in the days leading up to it, I get slammed hard. Thoughts like “no one will come,” “no one cares,” even “no one really likes you” occur to me.

To these accusations (the devil is, after all, the accuser), I will reply, “It’s in God’s hands if anyone comes (or cares); He just asks me to be obedient” and “God likes me enough to die for me.” Then I’ll pray the St. Michael and/or Guardian Angel prayer. Usually, that’s enough; the temptation to believe lies dissipates.  

Dear Jesus, let us always be truth-tellers … even about ourselves. Especially about ourselves.  



Copyright 2023 Amanda Woodiel
Images: Canva