Hearing Negative Self Talk?By Darlene Ouimet
I became aware years ago of the negative self talk that went on in my head. I tried all sorts of ways to deal with it or combat it. I heard all kinds of cute sayings and instructions such as “tell the committee to shut up, the meeting is over” and tell them to “stop renting space in my head”. I thought this was great advice and I didn’t realize that this was not a really effective solution to the problem of negative self talk.
Maybe I thought it made sense to ignore the voices because like many of us I grew up with my needs being ignored, so it was familiar and comfortable to ignore them myself. I don’t think I ever saw those nagging critical voices as expressing a need but maybe they were after all. Maybe I thought it made sense to ignore them because I didn’t have any other solutions about what to do about negative self talk.
I mentioned something in therapy once about this subject and my therapist asked me “whose voice is it?” I was kind of taken aback. I always assumed it was my voice. My voice telling me that I couldn’t do something I wanted to do, my voice demanding “who do you think you are” and my voice telling me that I am an imposter, and that everyone who ever liked me would eventually find out that I am not lovable, worthy or even productive. I am a phoney, depressed, “nobody” disguised as a happy and fun person.
So that night after therapy, I went home and got quiet and thought about those negative affirmations in my head and what the most common ones were. I looked at each common statement one at a time. My therapist had instructed me to ask some questions to the statements or voices, and to ask “them” what else they had to tell me. What other judgements did “they” have related to the statements that “they” made. At first I was pretty sure that the “voices” were my own voice, but then after I asked a few clarifying questions, I realized I could actually begin to hear the sneering voices of my mother, my brother, my father, my teachers old boyfriends and even a few “friends”.
The reason I heard my own voice is because I had adopted those opinions as TRUE. When I began to see the whole picture I realized that I had taken over where the abusive and controlling people in my life had left off. I continued to feed negativity about myself to my own belief system.
Once I started to listen to the “voices” and ask them questions, all sorts of other mysteries became clearer to me. I began to realize how when I moved out of the house when I was 17, that I was attracted to men who would also continue to affirm this negative belief system that I had about myself. I don’t know if I was attracted to them because I was comfortable always trying harder and that I truly believed that love was something I could “earn” and eventually deserve once I earned it, or because that type of devaluing person was so familiar to me, or if it was a combination of both. It was as though the negative beliefs I had about me, actually made me feel safer.
Try talking to those negative self thoughts instead of yelling at them to shut up. See what happens. This single teaching opened many doors to healing for me and led down many paths that I might never have traveled down, had I kept telling the committee to shut up and go home.
Please feel free to share your own thoughts and reactions to this concept.
Always seeking freedom!