Who is inside my head? The simple answer is that you are. This might sound like a riddle, but it isn’t. Instead, it is another tool for developing a deeper relationship with yourself. The most important relationship we will have is the one with ourselves. Most of us have an inner dialogue, meaning that we hear different voices. No, this doesn’t make you crazy or weird; it makes you normal. Unfortunately, many people don’t develop a relationship with these voices; they don’t understand why they are there or the purpose these voices serve. If you want to build a more profound sense of self-control, be less reactive, or be more authentic, you will have to master a relationship with your internal dialogue.
We theorize that the voices we hear play a significant role in our decisions making and behaviors. They have an impact on how we perceive the world and in our beliefs. They help us to make sense of situations and can allow us to avoid danger. But, they aren’t always right, and they don’t always lead to the best outcomes. These voices have many different origins and can come from different experiences, relationships (including with family), and our social influences (including media, the news, and culture).
Inner voices are developed to help us to manage our behaviors. Throughout life, external influences teach us what is and is not acceptable. We also learn about situations that will cause us pain. Often our inner voices are triggered when we experience a situation that reminds us of those times where we learned what is acceptable or something that caused pain. This is a fascinating topic and will be covered in more detail later; apologies for the cliffhanger.
Too often, people give themselves a hard time for what the voices say. Sometimes the voices can be outright mean. They might put us down or be critical. Nearly 70% of people will experience this type of critical voice. Specifically, this voice might say things like: “You are fat and ugly,” “You aren’t good enough for this,” “Who do you think you are?”, “They don’t really love you,” “This person is going to betray you.” The voices aren’t always this intense, but the message and emotions are often the same. With voices like this, we often feel intense emotions that can be difficult to manage.
If we are going to change our relationship to our inner voices and get to know ourselves better, we need to learn how to listen (Link to activity). We need to learn how to observe ourselves. Literally, we need to know how to watch our inner mechanics, including the different voices that we hear. This means we will also need to accept the emotions that we feel when we hear those voices and to be trusting that those voices are authentic. Without this attitude of curiosity and kindness, it will be challenging to control your decision-making and behavior.
Therefore, we need to be accepting of the emotions that are related to the inner voices. We will need to accept that these emotions occur and that it is okay to feel them.
Without listening to our inner voices or feeling the subsequent emotions, we will never master a relationship with ourselves. We know this is hard work and can be painful, but the payoff is worth it.