Things We Are Saying To Ourselves

From "Overcoming Bad Inner Voices" by The School of Life

"Where do inner voices come from? An inner voice always used to be an outer voice. We absorb the tone of others. A harassed or angry parent. The menacing threats of an elder sibling keen to put us down. The words of a schoolyard bully or teacher who seemed impossible to please. 

We internalize the unhelpful voices because at certain key moments in the past, they sounded compelling. The authority figures repeated their messages over and over until they got lodge in our own way of thinking. 

Part of achieving happiness and maturity involves altering our inner voices, which means encountering equally convincing and confident, but also helpful and constructive, voices over long periods, and taking care to internalize them.

They might be the voices of a friend, a therapist, or an author. We need to hear them often enough, and around tricky enough issues that they come to feel normal and natural responses, so that eventually, they come to feel like things we are saying to ourselves. They become our own thoughts.

The best sort of inner voice speaks to us in a gentle, kind, and unhurried way. It should feel as if a sympathetic arm were being put around our shoulder by someone who had lived long and seen a great many sad things, but wasn't embittered or panicked by them."

Listen to the whole message...