7 Good Things to Tell Yourself When You’re Having a Bad Day
A few weeks ago, my daughter texted me from the Christian college where she’s a freshman commuter student: “Please pray for me. I’m so overwhelmed right now.”
I told her I would. And then I did.
A little while later, she called me, and I asked where she was at.
“In my car, crying,” she told me.
This is not my favorite kind of mom phone call. I assured her that I loved her and told her everything would work out and promised to keep praying. Later, I told some mom friends about the kinds of things I’d said to my daughter on her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and one of them remarked, “Those sound like things I need to tell myself when I’m having a bad day.”
She was right, of course. Proverbs 23:7 (NAS) tells us that as a person “thinks within himself, so he is.” So often, what I tell myself in my head makes its way into my heart, and that is how I am.
The next time I’m having a day that could use a reset, I need to try to remember to tell myself these things that are true, based on God’s Word. Maybe one or more of them will help you reboot a bad day, too.
1. With God, you can get through this.
“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
“With God” is the hinge here. I can tell myself, “You’ll get through this,” but my brain may beg to differ. With God, though, I can be who I’m not, do what I can’t, and feel what I don’t. I can also do what I don’t want to do, not do what I do want to do, and not feel so much of what I do feel.
2. Take a deep breath.
“The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4)
The simple, deliberate act of intentionally taking a slow breath in and letting it out is like hitting the pause button on a day that’s headed south. It calms and quiets your racing mind so you can ask God to help you fix the problem, not feed it.
3. Pause, praise, and pray.
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray.” (James 5:13)
When I’m having a bad day, I tend to get frantic, pinging from one thing to the next in an attempt to right whatever is wrong. This almost always backfires and makes the day even worse. A much better plan of action is to stop for a moment, tell God Who He is and what He’s like so I can remind myself, and then talk to Him about what’s going on.
On my daughter’s bad day, after she calmed down, she texted me again and told me, “As always, talking to you made me feel better.” The same is true when we talk to Abba.
4. Remember what God has already done.
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your might deeds.” (Psalm 77:11-12)
God has brought you through difficult days in the past. So far, with His help, you have a 100 percent success rate of surviving days you never thought you’d make it through. Yahweh has been faithful before; He will be faithful again.
5. This is not your whole story.
“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)
Whatever is happening in your life right now is not all there is to your life. And it is not all there will ever be to your life. There is more to this day than whatever is going wrong right now. And how this day is going is not how every other day is going to go. Be grateful for today’s good. Hold onto the hope of better tomorrow. God is still writing your story, and He only writes good ones.
6. Just do the next thing.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
You do not have to know how this entire day is going to play out to take a step forward. Just do the next thing that needs doing, the next thing you think God is telling you to do, the next thing that seems wise and productive… the next one thing, not the next 10 things.
7. Everything is going to be okay.
“Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Isaiah 35:10)
As believers, we know how this story is going to turn out. We know the happiest ending is waiting for us. A bad day or a bad month or what might feel like a bad life on this earth cannot undo the greatest good God has prepared for us. And while we’re on the road to okay (and better!), He gives us strength for the journey.
When I’m having one of those days that makes me feel like I should have just stayed in bed, there are plenty of things I can choose to tell myself. But I need to practice the habit of deciding to tell myself things God says are true. His voice made the day to begin with, and His voice is the one that can redeem it.
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