|I wanted to chat to you today about your ‘inner voice’ – how it can mess with your mental health and what you can do about that…|
What Do You Mean, My Inner Voice?
You know, the one that monologues inside your head, your inner narrator, the one providing running commentary to you on what you do, how you do it, what’s going to happen next, how what you said was received, what people must think of you, and how that will affect you, going forward… you know the one, right?
Inner Voice? Isn’t That Just My Thoughts?
Yes… And No. Bear with…you’ll see what I mean. Chances are this inner voice is so familiar to you that you hardly realise it’s there. It almost feels like it’s you, just a facet of you and your thoughts, making sense of your life as you go. It probably hasn’t occurred to you to notice it’s even there, let alone wonder where it comes from…
Where Does My Inner Voice Come From? (And Why Should I Care?!)
Your inner voice, like so much of you, is a mish-mash of all the voices of people who took care of you – that’s mainly authority figures, like parents, teachers and other people who have been in charge of you. They could also include siblings, peers and other people in your early life.
As a part of growing up, you, like everyone else, will have internalised these voices – their tones, their words, their attitudes, their expectations of you and made your own ‘scripts’ out of them, based on the kinds of things they said. You will have done this to help you prepare for and manage various everyday situations.
What Do Inner Voices Sound Like?
That depends. If, when you made a mistake, you were accustomed to hearing empathic, supportive, encouraging remarks such as:
“It’s ok, you didn’t mean to, it’s fixable and you were trying your best. How can I help you make this better?”
Then probably when you make a mistake now, you repeat similarly warm and reassuring things to yourself, in your head. This will likely help you keep steady in a crisis, develop confidence to try again despite your recent failure, and allow you to remain emotionally buoyant and resilient in the face of future setbacks. Super useful, huh?
If your childhood mistakes were met with angry, disappointed, shaming comments, chances are your own inner voice repeats these negative messages to you now, in adulthood, when you make a mistake:
“You should have been more careful! You always do this! Why are you always screwing up?! Useless!”
So, probably, as you say these things to yourself, your mistake seems worse than it is, more of a disaster, and it may even morph into ‘yet another’ example of ways you are a ‘failure;’ another sign that you will NEVER succeed, and evidence of your own inherently defective nature. I think you will agree that this is a much LESS useful inner voice.
- It catastrophises when what you need is assurance.
- It condemns you when what you need is acceptance and understanding.
- It undermines you when what you need is to be built up.
- It insults you when what you need is tolerance and acceptance of your very normal, human weaknesses.
Your inner voice can help you get through tough times with your mental health intact or it can gnaw away at your peace of mind and take you down from the inside. In short, your inner voice can be a blessing or a bitch. So yeah, that’s why you should care about your inner voice.
If My Bitchy Inner Voice Was Set Up in Childhood, What Can I do About it now?
Changing the nature of your inner voice can be important. But it’s not easy. You may well need help. And it will take time. But it’s worth doing. You deserve to have an inner voice that cheers you on from inside your head, not one that effectively boos, hisses and throws cabbages at you from the side-lines and makes everything feel worse!
Counselling and psychotherapy offer one very effective way to get support with defeating your inner bully and learning to speaking lovingly and encouragingly to yourself. If that’s something you are interested in finding out more about, please do get in touch now to arrange a free 60 minute chat. You can tell me a little about what’s going on for you, ask me any questions and get a sense of whether I’m someone you feel you could really talk to.
You can book that chat or find out more here