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Last night I was having dinner with one of my best friends, and we were doing the usual processing/venting/ sharing of our lives. We hadn’t had time to get together for awhile, so there was MUCH to catch up on. As we were talking, a common theme developed which was the way we talk to ourselves. As my friend said isn’t it amazing I would never talk to you that way yet I talk to myself like that all the time. And I immediately thought (as I have a tendency to do these days) that would be a great blog post!
It is true–that little tiny voice in the back of our heads comes out and can just hammer us “you aren’t good enough, thin enough, efficient enough, caring enough, tough enough, organized enough on and on and on.” And if we aren’t aware of it that voice can quietly mutter all day long how terrible, weak, and pathetic we are until the mutter becomes like a megaphone and we just believe everything it says. We would NEVER talk to our friends or our loved ones that way yet frequently we allow it to just hang out in our brain beating us down.
Fortunately, my voice over the years has gotten quieter. I can remember there was a time when I would feel like I was living with cameras in my house. Everything was up for criticism: how late I slept, how clean my house was, how I chose to spend my time, how I looked, what I wore, who I talked to etc. I have become more aware of her (my voice is her) and try to catch her before she gains too much influence. However in the interest of full disclosure, this week my little voice has been out in full force just hammering away. I heard her talking earlier in the week and tried to shut her down, but I didn’t focus on her until last night at dinner. As I was expressing how I felt and what I thought my friend was able to say “whoa what’s up with that negativity?” and I realized WOW–that little voice has gained some serious momentum. What had started as maybe a ‘helpful’ hint or two had ended up being a full blown attack on my self-esteem.
There are 1000 theories as to why we have that voice; some say it is our ego, or fear, or just a negative voice. I am not here to debate why it is here I am here to decrease some of her power. So as with anything (you might get sick of me saying it–but it is SO true), it starts with awareness. We have to be aware of that little voice and the fact that she is talking smack. At first, we might not notice her until we are talking to someone and we start using her language, or maybe we notice how we physically feel. I usually notice her because I feel more on edge I am more snappish with my friends/significant others because I feel defensive and hostile. I notice I am more insecure, more scared, more grouchy. For you those feelings might be different–the key is to figure out what they are. When your voice is talking to you, do you get sad? Scared? Angry? Feel a tension in your neck? Your stomach? All those things will help you bring awareness to her. Once you know she is there you can call her out. I just speak right to her and let her know I am done listening and for a time she quiets down.
Sometimes your awareness comes later–like me this week–she had been going all week long, and I had just let her run amuck. So today I decided I need to take some action. I sat down, and I wrote two lists: one all the things in my life I am grateful for and two all the things I love about myself and my life. WOW–what a fabulous list–fortunately it was long and lovely. I just sat there reading in all the wonderful things I have in my life, and I immediately felt better and the monster that had been pecking at me all week lost her power.
My challenge to you: start noticing that voice. Unfortunately, we can’t get rid of the voice forever, it comes back from time to time, so you have to be vigilant. Pay attention to how you feel when you hear her/him. Pay attention to when he/she occurs. Don’t let her/him run around in your head unchecked. Call her out. Sit her down and show her who’s in charge here. It will help you Live Happier.