Long ago, an analytic trainer asked his trainees (who were studying to become analysts), “How many of you hear voices in your head?” A few sheepish people began to raise their hands, yet the majority of the class sat still. The ones who remained still were likely thinking, “Well, I’m not schizophrenic, so I don’t hear those kinds of voices.” “And besides, he’ll think I’m nuts (and so will my classmates) if I admit that I hear voices/chatter in my head—so I’m not raising my hand.” The trainer/analyst waited a bit and then acknowledged those who had been brave enough to be honest about “hearing voices in their heads.”
We all hear “voices.” Maybe it’s just one voice that yammers away all day. Maybe it’s the conversation between two parts of the self that we may become aware of when we’re in conflict. Perhaps we have a dominant voice that either serves us well—supporting and encouraging living from our highest and best self—or we may hear a voice that does not serve us well at all. The latter may be self-demaning, highly critical, and judgmental in cruel ways: “If you weren’t so stupid, you could’ve done that better.” “What’s wrong with you?” (This is not a question— it is an attack.) “I cannot believe you didn’t know that.” (A shaming remark.)
It’s important to pay attention to the internal dialogue you have going on in you throughout your day. Research has discovered that we may have as many as 60,000 thoughts per day (Alan Seale). Even if we only had 200, the quality of those thoughts would completely determine how we (1) feel about ourselves; and (2) how we feel about and perceive others. Our self talk is vitally important! How we speak to and about ourselves is probably the most life-determining thing we ever do, and it is within our power to change this.
Our inner self confidence is built upon what we confide in ourselves, daily, hourly. In an earlier post, I discussed the “real meaning of ‘confidence’.” You might give it a look, soon. What we say to ourselves will determine our level of success in life, whether or not we have excellent relationships, whether or not we will suffer from depression or experience joy on a regular basis.
How we speak to ourselves will be revealed by our attitudes and through how we speak to others. To the degree we know ourselves (have insight and self awareness), this self knowing will either show up as healthy self confidence or the lack thereof. The most thoughtful people (full of thought) are ones who have developed a capacity to look inside themselves—to be self noticing and self knowing. It is from that position that they can be empowered to change what they notice that does not serve them well. It may not be easy, yet one cannot change anything that is denied or remains unknown about one’s self.
Positive and Uplifting Self Talk
It is very important that the conversations you have inside yourself—the voices in your head that speak a lot—be positive and uplifting. This will reveal that you are either “for” yourself or “against” yourself. We all need to be “for” ourselves! It may be our greatest task in life to learn how to speak to ourselves in ways that nourish us, that inspire us, that support our total well-being and the well-being of others.
Pay Attention and Notice
Start paying attention to what you hear in your head. Notice how it makes you feel. If you want to feel better, speak more respectfuly to yourself. Change your thought from a negative to a positive. Instead of saying anything derogatory to yourself, such as, “I’m someone no one wants to hire,” to something that is actually more truthful: “I will keep looking for a job and a setting where I can bring my talents and skills to bear.” “Among all the people out there, certainly someone/many will want to hire me.” “I’ll look for that place and person!”
Develop A Caring Voice
Notice the voices in your head. Make sure there’s a voice that cares about you, and shapes what it says to support you throughout your life. You’ll need to hear from that voice often. Imagine what will happen if you have positive, encouraging chatter in your head! Try it out. Speak to yourself in kind, loving, uplifting ways. Encourage yourself. If something doesn’t work or you didn’t try very much, say something useful and helpful so you’ll try again and keep working at it ’til it changes.
Speak well….especially to yourself.