Voices in our heads

Most of us hear voices. I don’t mean this in some kind of needing to take pills sense. It’s about the way in which we process, and often internalise the voices of other people. For example, a person who has grown up hearing that they are loved and valued, who has been treated with compassion and respect and encouraged to feel good about themselves, will probably hear a kind and helpful little voice. The voice that says ‘you can do this’. “You are worth it.” “You are lovely and you will pull through.” That kind of inner voice is incredibly sustaining, reinforces good self esteem and encourages feelings of hope even in hard times. It’s not proof against every setback, but it will give you a fighting chance. But what about the other voices? The ones that criticise and condemn. Now, we all hear plenty of criticism going through our lives, and we all need to be able to hear it, but every now and then, one of those comments gets in and sticks, and becomes part of the inner landscape. You are bound to fail. You cannot sing. You’re just an emotional blackmailer. You’re a waste of space. No one will ever love you. Things we fear may be true. Things too vague for us to readily disprove them. This kind of little voice can sit inside your head, eternally critical and demoralising. Forever undermining achievements, mocking emotions or otherwise eroding self esteem. Many people who seem compassionate with others, are veritable sadists when it comes to how they treat themselves. And it’s very much about what the inner voices are telling us to do. It’s worth taking some time to reflect on the voices you hear. The ones that turn up late at night, or that wait at the bottom of bottles, or that show up when things go wrong. The ones that snipe and destroy. Simply identifying them is helpful. Notice what they say and that this is not you saying it. The odds are you know perfectly well whose voice you have internalised. You may well remember when the words in question were thrown at you. What makes you think you’re so special? Why should anyone care what you think? It’s not your voice. It’s the voice of someone else. You’ve given it free bed and board. It may be that if you have the mental focus, you can tell it to pack and leave. Kick it out of your head space. Resisting the inner voices is otherwise a slow and painful process, and I think the only real answer is, keep recognising where it comes from, and keep resisting. Good criticism is helpful, it shows us something we need to know or learn and by acting on it, we have scope to grow and improve. “You got that specific thing wrong” is a door to learning how to get it right. The ones that haunt and hurt, tend not to be about specific mistakes, more a sense of being inherently a failure. The comments that suggest you are not capable of being good enough. The ones that say there is no hope, you might as well not even try. Save everyone the hassle, why don’t you? These will often come with the assertion that this is to help you, put you straight, save you from yourself. It’s hard to fight off someone who is convinced they’re doing you a big favour by knocking the illusions, pride, stupidity out of you. But that doesn’t make them right. None of us is made of fail. None of us is beyond hope of improvement. None of us is destined to cock everything up. If that sort of little voice has got inside your head, I’d like to offer you one magic word to use against it. It’s a potent word, and a powerful charm against that kind of destructive, abusive treatment. The word is ‘bullshit’. Try it. Say it out loud. Bullshit. When you hear the derogatory, rubbishing, unhelpful, you can never win comments, say it again. Bullshit. It will help.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

3 responses to “Voices in our heads

  • Michelle

    I can’t tell you how timely this post was. And the thing I love about “the bullshit method”, as I’m already calling it, is the way it puts things in perspective. I have a habit of taking everything SO SERIOUSLY. I have these voices–oh, do I ever have them–and I have been thinking about how to change my thinking, asking myself what I need to do. Spells? Prayers? Rituals? Therapy? Weeks and weeks of journaling and weeping?

    The beauty of calling bullshit on the ugly voices is that it shows them for what they are–crap. Lies. BALDERDASH. They are absurd and ridiculous and taking them seriously gives them way, way way too much power over us. And saying or thinking “bullshit” makes it pretty impossible to take anything seriously. Including myself–and that’s no doubt a good thing.

  • Chewbacka Grizelda

    I think some people ARE beyond hope. My parents, for instance: they’re the ones who planted these horrible, negative messages about myself for who I am in my head from the time I was born, and they never stopped. They demonized me and I wanted to kill myself. Teachers and kids in the “Christian” schools I went to were just another example — one kid even tried to drown me while yelling at me about how evil I was (he grew up to be a preacher)! Same thing with one or two of my ex’s.

    I think those people ARE beyond hope. Why? Simple. They think they’re perfect, that they have the right to go around judging and punishing others for being whoever it is they think those others are as people… “Perfect” people don’t need correcting, you see…. It’s a sick, twisted cycle that has no end. Even when they get caught, they fall back on, “Well, Jesus died for me, so I’m Forgiven, so it doesn’t matter that I did that to you. It’s all ok, I’m ok with it, and you should be too. You’re supposed to ‘love’ me so much that you’ll get up on that cross and forgive me like He did, because you’re supposed to be just like Him. No, He didn’t die in your place, just in mine, nyak nyak nyak!”

    That’s the sick, twisted, and very real and quite common effect of religion/belief in “God.” If you want to cure the voices in your head, stop believing in a God that hates you for who you are and wants you to “change” (become someone you’re not) and stop (internally, where they can’t see it) hating others for who they are (no matter how lovingly you treat them outwardly). Stop living a life where God is really more of your own personal satan, constantly hounding you, accusing/judging/condemning you, and stop worrying about trying to be a good person. Instead, every moment, just be honest with yourself about who you really are, what you want to be or do, put your mark on it and do it, knowing that that’s you being the real you, hell or high water. Think of it this way: why would you want to spend all of Eternity “worshiping” a Being from outer space who spent your who life living inside your head telling you what a horrible person you are for everything you ever said or did, making you feel like you -or- someone else had to pay penance for your merely existing at all???

    It’s my firm belief that really, this all starts with a belief in any sort of classic “God” figure. Remove that belief, and your sanity will return. You’ll start actually caring about yourself and others in a very real way that isn’t forced because of some so-called (and very silly) “law” saying you must do this, you have to do that, and you absolutely -can’t- do something else in your personal life that has nothing to do with civil law at all.

  • Jennifer Tavernier

    LOL! And it does! Right now mine lately has been saying, car battery, groceries, or euthanasia? (Finite amount of money.) I analytically chose car battery, because it was getting way to hysterical. Now I just have to prey on someone who I can wheedle into driving around, and hopefully put it in – . Better a decision than not, and cabin fever from not being able to get out can be an invitation to a head “sock-her” arena. It’s not free rent at that point, it opens the gates to the Mongol melee horde!

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