Sometimes our inner voices can do good like motivate us to try again when something has gone wrong or calm us down when we are panicking about something. Sometimes however our inner voices put us down more than any words another person can say to us. Mostly because our inner voices have been shaped by previous insults or criticisms said to use by other people.
For a lot of people these internalised negative comments are the only thoughts that we have about ourselves.
When I experienced cognitive behavioural therapy, my therapist told me that my thoughts were ‘triangular’ shaped. When somebody said something that was a ‘circle’ shape, my thoughts would reject that comment because it simply did not fit in with the way I was thinking (triangular). Only ‘triangle’ comments would be accepted by myself as true comments. Other shapes were simply lies told by people who felt sorry for me, who pitied me. This I am sure is similar for most people. They have their own beliefs about themselves that they have thought so much and so often that they must be true – so when told by somebody else something that contradicts that belief, it is simply rejected. Those who can’t take compliments probably know exactly what I mean(!)
But how do we change our inner thoughts to something that’s positive? Something that will always help?
A first step would be to recognise the negative inner voices when they occur, whether it is putting yourself down when reading the essentials wanted for your dream job, or when you are experiencing a down day in which all you want to do is hide from the world. Unfortunately, it is not an easy task. Your negative inner thoughts are pretty embedded and controlling. They are dug deep in your beliefs about yourself, and just like any belief, it takes a lot of time and some strong convincing to change them.
The aim of the inner thoughts game is to find a confident and encouraging source of self-love which will make positive thoughts about yourself the only thoughts you have. These positive thoughts are not just compliments about yourself – you’re not about to become an ego-maniac – but instead they are a mixture of kindness, understanding and self-esteem. They are reassuring and calming – a great contrast to those negative inner thoughts that can send us spiralling into a terrible emotional state of sadness, anger or frustration.
A way to find this better inner voice is to think of those who love us or have loved us for the person who we are. That could be a close family member, an old best friend from school or a significant other. By attempting to mute the sources of negative thoughts – old bullies, discouraging parents – and focusing on the good, we can try to silence our unhelpful self beliefs, especially when we need some self-confidence in our lives.
It is really difficult to channel those good thoughts when you are thinking the worst about yourself. Sometimes the only thing you can manage to do is get through the day. But if you are becoming more conscious of what leads you to negative thoughts or where those unhelpful inner voices have come from, you could begin to introduce the loving inner voices instead, or at least try to mute the negative ones by simply just thinking about your breathing.
Hopefully one day our inner voices will stop us from worrying about things that aren’t important or doubting our talents, and instead encourage us to recognise exactly what we are capable of. Imagine the confidence we will have to go after the things that we desire!
If we can train ourselves to pause our worries and fears, and instead focus on what could be achieved because of how brilliant we are, down days will be a thing of the past – they’ll be something that we had to go through to become an even better version of ourselves.