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  • Overcoming bad inner voices

  • We don't often think about it, and may never discuss it with others at all, but pretty much everyone has voices in their heads.

  • A murmuring stream of thoughts that run along inside our minds most of the time.

  • Sometimes, the inner voice is encouraging, calling for you to run those final few yards, "You're nearly there, keep going! Keep going!"

  • Or urging you to calm down because you know it will all be okay in the end.

  • But sometimes...

  • ...the inner voice is simply not very nice at all.

  • It is defeatist and punitive, panic-ridden and humiliating.

  • It doesn't represent anything like our best insights or most mature capacities.

  • It's not the voice of our better nature.

  • We find ourselves saying, "You disgust me," "Things always go to shit with you," or "You useless little idiot."

  • Where do inner voices come from?

  • An inner voice always used to be an outer voice.

  • We absorb the tone of others: a harassed or angry parent, the menacing threats of an elder sibling keen to put us down, the words of a schoolyard bully, or a teacher who seemed impossible to please.

  • We internalized the unhelpful voices, because at certain key moments in the past they sounded compelling.

  • The authority figures repeated their messages over and over, until they got lodged in our own way of thinking.

  • Part of achieving happiness and maturity involves altering our inner voices

  • which means encountering equally convincing and confident, but also helpful and constructive varieties of voices over long periods

  • and taking care to internalize them.

  • They might be the voices of a friend, a therapist or an author.

  • We need to hear them often enough and around tricky enough issues that they come to feel normal and natural responses, so that eventually,

  • They come to feel like things we are saying to ourselves.

  • They become our own thoughts.

  • The best sort of inner voice speaks to us in a gentle, kind and unhurried way.

  • It should feel as if a sympathetic arm were being put around our shoulder

  • by someone who had lived long and seen a great many sad things, but wasn't embittered or panicked by them.

  • In certain states of humiliation around work, in many of us, there is a mocking and contemptuous voice inside one's head.

  • It suggests that love, respect, and kindness only ever come via worldly success and competence.

  • Our failure: not being able to make a public speech, taking time to learn to drive a car, not being especially brilliant at sales, rightly debars us from love and appreciation.

  • We need to incorporate a voice that separates out achievement from love,

  • that reminds us that we may be worthy of affection, even if we fail, and that being a winner is only one part, and not necessarily the most important part, of one's identity.

  • This is, traditionally, the voice of the mother,

  • but it might also be the voice of a lover, a poet we like, or a nine year old child chatting to his or her mom or dad about stress at the office.

  • It is the voice of a person who loves you for being you, outside of achievement.

  • Many of us grew up around nervous people: people who lost their tempers the moment the parking ticket couldn't be found,

  • and who were knocked off course by relatively minor administrative hurdles, like the electricity bill.

  • These people had no faith in themselves, and therefore, without necessarily wanting to do us harm, couldn't have much faith in our abilities either.

  • Every time we faced an exam, they got more alarmed than we did.

  • They always asked multiple times if we had enough to wear when we went outside, they worried about our friends and our teachers.

  • They were sure the holiday was going to turn into a disaster.

  • Now, these voices have become our own,

  • and cloud our capacity to take an accurate measurement of what we are capable of.

  • We have internalized voices of irrational fear and fragility.

  • At such moments, we need an alternative voice that can pause our runaway fears

  • and remind us of the strength we have latent within us, which the currents of panic have hidden from us.

  • Our heads are large, cavernous spaces.

  • They contain the voices of all the people we have ever known.

  • We should learn to mute the unhelpful ones, and focus on the voices we really need to guide us through the thickets of life.

  • We humbly offer this voice, as one of the more helpful ones we might take on board.

  • [Outro video, left side] From a young age, we're taught it's a terrible thing.

  • So when we feel it, as we all do, we are inclined not to examine it, we just feel---

  • [Outro video, right side, man] ---Regional Italian. Whatever that means. *Chuckle*

  • [Woman] It got some amazing reviews online.

Overcoming bad inner voices

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B1 US voice internalized unhelpful outro achievement panic

Overcoming Bad Inner Voices

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    Kristi Yang posted on 2017/02/17
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