“Shut up! You’re not important”
“You deserve this suffering”
“You’re so pathetic”
“You can never succeed. You suck at everything”
“Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”
When you have an inner voice that tells you all this, then it’s time to change it.
The equation is simple. Our inner voice becomes our outer voice, meaning the way we treat ourselves is how we treat others. The inner voice (self-talk/how you think of yourself in the privacy of your mind) becomes the voice we use with others. If the inner voice is harsh, critical and unforgiving, that’s how we will usually think about others or react to people around us – with harshness, criticism and an unforgiving stance. If we have a gentle, encouraging and a kind voice, that’s how we will think of others. The outer voice, in my opinion, is simply the voice that comes unbidden to our mind when we think of others.
How does this Inner voice develop?
Childhood plays a major role in the kind of inner voice you end up having.
Growing up, if you’ve felt frequently hurt, neglected, mistreated, beaten up, criticized, made to feel guilty, silenced, not allowed to express, abandoned by your primary caregivers, then you (as a child) think that ‘you’ did something to deserve all of that. A child doesn’t have filters like adults and all that happens in his/her environment is absorbed. As a child if you’ve been through repetitive criticism and hurt then the tendency will be to blame yourself for the way you were treated at home. This collection of voices, beliefs, impressions, behaviors are like a record that run in your head and eventually become your inner voice. You conclude that you aren’t worthy of kindness and compassion and hence you end up being unkind to yourself.
A note about Beliefs: The way your caregivers treated you led you to reach certain conclusions about yourself, the world and others. These conclusions (core beliefs) will either be strengthened or weakened by the connections you forge with others later in life, the choices you make, the experiences you have, and in turn will influence your inner voice.
How does it become your Outer voice?
Think of the times when you’ve low, at those moments how do you feel about things around you? Not so good, right? Everything we look at is colored by the mood we’re in. If we’re in a good mood the world looks brighter and, if we’re in a bad mood, the world looks all shabby and disappointing. Similarly if you’re always berating yourself, then how will you look at others’ problems and sufferings? Most probably with harshness and unkindness. You might think, “Oh, they deserve it!”, because that’s what you say to yourself. But if you are kind to yourself, then even if you are suffering, having a tough time, or are in a bad mood, you will understand others’ suffering and have compassion for them.
How to transform this inner voice?
It’s not a one day job. Give it time. Here are a few tips:
- Do these excellent exercises by Dr. Kristin Neff. Self-Compassion Exercises
- Practice changing your self-talk.
- Work with an EFT Practitioner to heal your childhood wounds.
- Relax and De-stress
- Learn how to be compassionate to yourself.
- Let go of Perfectionism.
The more the adverse experiences in your childhood, the greater the chances of having a harsh inner voice. But the good news is that by healing your childhood wounds, and practice self-compassion, you can transform your inner voice.