Everyone has a voice in their heads. They are all different, but generally they are critical of ourselves, others, or both. The voice in our head can cause us unhappiness – but it doesn’t have to. We can break this cycle with a few simple techniques.
When we listen to the voice in our head it affects our feelings – it may make us feel worthless – in which case we may become depressed or it may blame others for the situation – in which case we feel angry.
We often act on these feelings as if they were facts. So we might turn inwards and attack ourselves, which leads to a loss of self esteem, feelings of worthlessness and despair. Or we might act out these feelings by arguing with others and blaming them for the way we feel. This causes a lot of pain in our lives and relationships and can be very destructive.
Often there is more than one voice in our heads and they start arguing with each other until we are so confused we don’t know what to think, feel or do about the situation. This is exhausting and is the reason we feel stressed and tired much of the time.
To get a break from this pain, we often drown out the voice with TV, comfort eating or other addictive behaviours. The problem is, when we drown out the voice, we drown out everything else too: our soul, spirit and creativity. We choose numbness over experiencing life fully.
So what do we do?
- Remember that the voice in your head is not ultimate truth. The things it says are a result of past conditioning and experiences and the ego’s defence mechanism which chooses attack as the best form of protecting itself from criticism. You can choose not to get involved in its shenanigans. You can imagine it is like that moany neighbour, colleague or customer whose negativity you let wash over you, or that it is a mischievous child who wants your attention. Just watch it and don’t become involved in the drama.
- Remember that everyone else has a voice in their head, too. And just as your voice can be mean, but is not really who you are – their voice can be mean and is not who they really are either. When people criticise you or say and do hurtful things, they are reacting to the voice in their heads – if your voice gets involved as well you end up in a fight. Its not worth the pain. So try to stand back from the situation – don’t take it personally. Try to let go of the negativity and feel sympathy for the other person – they don’t want to act on these painful thoughts any more than you do. If it helps, you can write down how you feel and get the emotions off your chest – but don’t dwell on them churning them up into a maelstrom of negativity. The most important thing is to let the negativity go. Don’t let a thoughtless action or comment ruin your day.
- You can also take your attention away from the thoughts. Take a walk in nature and admire its beauty, listen to a piece of music that makes your heart soar, or work on your dream project. By taking your attention away from your thoughts and being in the present moment you stop feeding the voice. Whenever you notice the voice has pulled you back into the drama, refocus on what you are doing right now. Anything will work, the taste of the juicy peach you are eating, the softness of the sheets when you are lying in bed, the view from the window of your workplace, home or car, the feelings of love you have for a person or pet or the sounds of nature or city life.
- It’s not easy to pull your attention away from the drama in our heads – you will get pulled back in from time to time – but you shouldn’t beat yourself up about that. When it happens – simply take the attention away from the thoughts and start again. More significant and painful experiences may have to be released over and over again before you can become totally free of them.
- Keep practicing noticing the voice in your head, without identifying with it. It will get easier with time and the improvement in your quality of your life, relationships and sense of peace will be worth the effort.