We all have those conversations. They range from “you’re the greatest” to “you are absolutely worthless”, and a million others in between. They can build up, or they can tear down. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the tongue is the most potent weapon of them all.

So, what happens when those conversations never leave my head? What am I building or destroying when the target is…me? And on which side of the conversation — speaking, or listening — should I find myself?

When my internal dialogue is positive, I’m building confidence. I’m telling myself that I can overcome, that I can win. I can grab the tiger by his tail while I look him in the eye!

Can I go too far, though? Absolutely!

Confidence is a great thing. It allows us to face what we may fear with the belief that we can conquer said fear. But it can turn to arrogance in a heartbeat. In that case, talking to myself any further is going to do more harm than good. This is a good time to listen instead, to recognize and defeat the lies of arrogance and attitude lurking beneath the truth of faith and confidence.

And what about those negative moments? What about those times when I lack the positivity to take on a task that seems larger than anything I can throw at it?

Author and Bible scholar Kay Arthur speaks of the “Five Deadly Ds”: Disappointment, Discouragement, Dejection, Despair and Demoralization. We experience something disappointing in our lives, which causes our faith to weaken. We “bottom out” spiritually, we give up and we admit defeat. The worst part of all is that this progression often comes as a result not of the external world, but from within our own minds. This is not a time for passive listening, or we might really start to believe the lies.

So, can any good come of that discouragement? Without a doubt! They key is knowing how to recognize my triggers. If I know what causes those downward spirals, I can take control of the situation by identifying the lie and actively speaking the truth to myself. Or, I can surround myself with people who are willing to speak the truth to  me!

Our inner dialogues are wonderful tools that can help us approach a situation with reason, but they are double-edged swords. We must be careful to know when to take charge and speak, and when to hush up and listen.

In that knowledge we find peace and perspective.