Thursday, June 25, 2020

Writer, Who Told You That?

by Henry McLaughlin @RiverBendSagas

Remember the old cliché́ from childhood: sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me?

Not true. Words and names can actually do much more lasting damage. Cuts and bruises heal. Words and names create self-images that linger and poison for years. They can become prophecies we fulfill whether we want to or not.
Parents, siblings, peers, coaches, law enforcement, schools, our experiences, environments, and fears all combine to create an image of ourselves. 

  • “You’re no good.”
  • “You’ll never amount to anything.”
  • “You can’t handle money.”
  •  “You’re such a slob.”
  • “Why can’t you be like your brother? Or your sister? Or Uncle Fred?”
  • “Whatever made you think you could be a writer?”

How many of us have had these words or something very similar spoken to us? They hurt then, and they still sting now?

Here’s a question to consider: who told you that?

Your mother or father? A teacher or classmate? Your ex-spouse?

The most serious side effect of these negative comments is they become our self-talk. We believe and speak what has been spoken into us.

The next time one of these derogatory or negative phrases comes to mind, start quizzing yourself. Ask yourself, “Who told me that?” Consider the source. They are all flawed humans just like us. They all have their own perceptions and expectations of the world that taint how they see us and how they characterize us.

Then ask yourself, “Who does God say I am?”

His is the only opinion that matters, because his Word is the truth. His Word is the only source for what is true about him, about us, our pasts, our futures, about others, about our enemies, about this world and the next.

Let Psalm 139:14 NKJV be our meditation and our answer. “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.”

His Word is a mirror for us to see ourselves as he sees us.

How would you handle negative comments from your past (or present) knowing who you are in Christ?


Henry’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest.

Henry edits novels, leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers. 

Connect with Henry on his blogTwitter and Facebook.


  1. Henry,

    Thank you for this important article reminding us to quell the negative voices inside us. Yes I have them too --like "Who told you that you could write this book or this article?" When this happens I need to lean on the everlasting arms of God.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

    1. Thank you, Terry. Leaning into God is what works for me. Lately, I've had to let go of all the negative thoughts in my head and let him transform me. It's been a lot of work but the results are amazing.

  2. Knowing I am a child of God helps me when negative thoughts try to creep into my mind. He created me to be a unique and special person. :-) I am thankful for His love.

  3. Handling negative comments from people is easier when I remember school teachers who believed in me. When I'm tempted to doubt any ability to perform a task, the smiling face of my sixth grade teacher appears in memory, as she complimented me on something I had written. She never knew what an inspiration she was!

    1. Thanks, Roberta. It's awesome the way God brings people into our lives to encourage us to keep following his plan and purpose.

  4. Thanks Henry! Posted your 2 questions on the fridge for the whole family to ponder.
    And love “His Word is a mirror see... as He sees us.” - the idea that the acceptance & beauty the Bible reveals is already how God sees us in Jesus is mind-blowing to too many Christians living in condemnation. I pray daily that more will realize that truth. :)

    1. Amen, Chris. I'm in agreement with you on your prayer. I know what it's like to be free of that bondage.

  5. Thank you, Henry, for these great truths. I tell novice writers not to worry about a few bad reviews, but to plan on them! As writers we will be criticized, but we don't write to please the reviewers, we write to please God. Great post!

  6. Crystal, thanks for your comment. You are so right--we right to please God. He'll take care of the rest.

  7. Henry, your words are guiding lights. Long, long ago, you were an encourager to me when I was active in the North Texas Writer's group. You were an encourager then and continue to shine to this day. Write on! Uplifting blessings, Carolyn Knefely.