Hearing Negative Self Talk?


Combating Negative Self Talk
dangerous places in the mind

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!  

Darlene Ouimet

Categories : Therapy



I still do at times hear: I’m no good, I’ll never amount to nothin, I’m a fat zero and shouldn’t be allowed to breathe this air, I’m a nobody, I don’t deserve anythin good, I’m a bad person, all kinds of phrases. I too also knew they would come from voices familiar to me as well. My step-mother, brothers, aunts, uncles, fathers…they came basically from those who abused/used me and raised me. I at times listen to those voices still today b/c it’s basically I don’t know why but maybe b/c back then they left a huge scare on my heart and today I still carry that scar. I know I’m probably not makin any sense so maybe I should keep quiet, sorry.


this is just where am at 2day …….. that voice inside me shouting out how dirty and disgusting and worthless i am …….. the one that tells me i should never have been born ……….. that i’m a useless waste of space ……. and the one that reminds me …….. it (sex) is all you’ve ever been good 4 ……..


Jackie, you make perfect sense.

Jackie and Jean,
Those things that were said to you and about you were lies. They were not true and the are not true. You are as equally deserving of life, fullness, joy, happiness, freedom as anyone else on this planet is. You can calmly tell those voices that they are wrong. They are lying.
I listened to those voices and I believed them too, because I thought that they were the answer to my question “why am I so unhappy”. But in reality, this is not the truth. I was unhappy because I was unable (until this last 6 years or so) to deal with unresolved abuse and trauma.

Thank you both for sharing today. Your honesty is beautiful just as you both are. Set those voices straight.
Hugs, Darlene


I have not ever thought to ask those voices what else they had to o say.. Did you ask them who they were at some point? May I share the part about asking the voices what else they had to say with my son and his wife?
Dan battles those inner thoughts and voices, much as I have. I have lived with rejection my whole life as long as I can recall.This rejection and fear was entrenched in Danny from a small child via my in-laws with whom we ( my husband Dan and I) had way too much contact as a young married couple.
He’s processing stuff recently. We talked quite a lot this last Monday.


Holy Smokes!
Darlene, that is a huge thing. Asking the inner critics what else the have to tell me.

Once, before my sister and I became estranged, I asked her if she had that negative self talk when doing something fun, or positive for herself and she looked at me and said…’Umm……no.’ I thought ‘oops, I’ve said too much.’ I thought everyone had these inner critics. Unfortunately she documented this conversation as more proof I was nuts.( ok, that was dig at my sister…

But I never thought about having a dialogue with my inner critics.Today went this way: ‘ If you fail, at this job, or if you don’t hsndle your money ‘correctly’, you will look like a loser and no one will have anything to do with you.Don’t blow it and let everyone know how incompetent you are.The main thing is to lay low and look like you know what you are doing even if you don’t.’

A recent snipefest from the inner critic:’You’re awkward and unattractive, and people will laugh at you if you act like you are a worthy person.They already know you wouldn’t be in your situation if you were ‘normal’.

And: ‘if you act competent and like you know what you are doing, then at some point you will have to prove it; and YOU can’t because you are always faking it.’

And: ‘Everyone who knows you, knows you don’t even mean what you say.You’re not as nice as you want people to think, you always pretend to be something you aren’t. Stop trying to fool people.’

And:’You don’t deserve good times. Look how you have made everyone around you suffer.’and At your age you should be past wanting someone to love you.’

And:’ God isn’t listening to you.You don’t deserve His mercy or grace.’

And:’ you are so ugly, and awkward, the only thing you have on your side is making jokes about yourself. Maybe that will make people think you havea good ‘personality’. Maybe if you put yourself down first, they won’t make fun of you.’

I have not had dialogues with theses critics, but am remembering their messages to me.

The overall message so far is :’Lay low, and don’t try, so people won’t discover how flawed you are’,and ‘you don’t deserve anything good to happen to you because you are hurtful to others’.’you are an unredeeemable failure so don’t bother trying to be anything else-we all know you are a loser.’

‘Even if you say you are sorry for all the hurt you have caused no one will ever forget what a piece of trash you really are. We’ve tried to be nice to you but you are hopeless.Just go away.’

‘you just annoy people when you try to talk to them about important things. Other people are allowed to be listened to but we all know you just whine. You have nothing of any importance to anyone to say.other people COUNT- You do not.’

Some of these voices are highly critical, and some seem to be negatively protective in a weird way to ‘assist’ me in avoiding More criticism.

This is very interesting.thanks for the tool, Darlene. I’ll be dialoguing with these inner voices.

The bottom line is this: these voices came from somewhere.They’ve ‘beat me up’ a long time.

Ouch, ouch, ouch.


After I got quiet enough in my head to ask them “what else do you have to tell me” I realized that they were the voices of all the people in my life (different phrases for different situations) that had ever put me down, defined me and squished me. The people that had deterred me, hurt me, even sometimes thought they were doing what was ‘best’ for me. When I listened to them, I realized that there were MANY voices, including mine, agreeing with them. (because I thought they answered the questions “why am I so lost? what is wrong with me? Why am I so down, depressed, stupid… the list of questions goes on too. So deep down I believed the voices.. but they lied to me and they kept me from breaking free from the past.
You may share what ever you wish Vivian.
Hugs, Darlene


My dear Elizabeth!
Our inner voices are cousins… possibly sisters!
I have had a version of each one of those points you stated here. This has been a huge area for me to become aware of, deal with and overcome. I still have those voices sometimes, but I calmly correct them usually right away now. This is one of those things ~ I got stronger and better at it as I went along.

~first of all, don’t be too sure that your sister didn’t know what you were talking about ~ if she wanted to paint you as crazy, she would never agree with you in the first place. Not only that, not that many people want to admit that this kind of negative self talk goes on! We are special because we are striving for a better life, a life we deserve, and it takes a long time because as you have pointed out, these voices and these belief systems have been hurting us and keeping us down for a dang long time!

Thank you for sharing this amazing list! This is going to assist many readers with the content of this blog post!
Love Darlene


I hope this does help-oops my inner voice just said ‘yeah right.’ It’s helping me. I am beginning to realize I walk around with a gremlin on my shoulder constantly sneering at me-so to speak.

This is a very neat way to step back and to really hear what goes on inside and to be able to talk to those ‘voices’ and hear where this really comes from.

Hoping there will another voice that rises uo and says:’Hey guys, stop beating up my friend Liz. She’s brave, strong, and kind, and I’m tired of the garbage and lies you say about her.Go pick on someone your own size, you bullies.’Maybe its already speaking up.

I don’t think I ever had anyone in real life say or do that for me, so now I will tap into something deep inside who DOES feel that way about me.There is a spiritual self in there who totally disagrees with all that garbage and loves me, but has been drowned out a long time.’


I got a real smile out of your comment. you wrote: “Hoping there will another voice that rises up and says: ‘Hey guys, stop beating up my friend Liz. She’s brave, strong, and kind, and I’m tired of the garbage and lies you say about her. Go pick on someone your own size, you bullies.’ Maybe its already speaking up.”
Elizabeth ~ that voice is YOURS.

Liz! You are the one who is sticking up for you now! (I should write a sequel blog post to this one!) The next step was for me to start to say to those voices ~ That isn’t true. I am not useless, fat, stupid, etc. I am worth the same as any other person, I am generous, beautiful, lovable, kind, compassionate…. well you get the picture. I just corrected the voices. I did this for me and I found out that this was one of the most powerful healing exercises that I could do for myself.
Keep going Elizabeth, you are doing great!!
Hugs, Darlene


Very well said Darlene . Yes questioning those old thot patterns and beliefs are vital to recovery, some have even said to have a written conversation with these ‘voices’ to find validity or disguised self contempt or self hatred, I realized for myself. My identification for decades was as a sex object, bcus that is where I believed my worth existed, due to years of sexual abuse by a teacher.
Absolutely question those critics, verbally, journalling, in letters that u burn etc. We are all worTh iT !
With respect to finding similar partners time and again, check out some IMAGO THERAPY sites as to wHy some believe we do that. And to finding and keeping the riGht partner.



oh yes, I can relate to this alright! its constant and consistant…even thought I was nuts…yes, I listen to them and know that for the most part they are lies..maybe I should hear them out, but usualy try to shut them up!!!…also, there is the voice of reason inside me…I look for that innervoice…that is voice that got me through alot..them instances or flight when I heard GET OUT! or RUN….it is loud,serious,right on the money, when that voice speaks I listen to it…and also the reason why Im working my recovery today..It tells me Patty you need to go back, you need to deal w/this stuff..I wonder is this my spiritual guide? or is it me?


OMG, I think this is what has been holding me back


Wow! Yes yes and yes! I love where you describe how you thought they were your voices because you’d adopted them as “you” (paraphrased:)). Geez! I still see the snarling faces, I hear the shaming “Suuuussiiee” and the angry faces of my siblings who passed their own anger and rage onto me because they were also terribly abused. Wow!

And then the year that I began to do this kind of work when I didn’t have anyone to guide me and I kind of just figured this out…to talk to them instead of telling them to shut up. And sometimes I would talk out loud. Very often I would sit at the computer writing – I would often be crying, my eyes squeezed shut – as I just wrote whatever thoughts came to mind. Often I found I was having conversations with the “me’s” that had taken on the characteristics of my abusers. And as I went through this process and validated the pain of each hurt and wounded part of myself, as I released the caretaker voices and assured myself that I could actually take care of myself…the voices began to quiet.

What a wonderful post Darlene; I am still amazed that even though you and I never met before EFB…how similar our journeys have been.


I still hear a teacher from high school telling me I didn’t need to try, it didn’t matter whether I got a good grade either in her class or any other class because she knew what my life was going to be like – I was going to end up living in a trailer somewhere, depending on welfare, raising a bunch of kids who were going to grow up being just like me because that was the sort of family I came from. I believed her because she was a woman in authority over me, her husband was the principal of the high school, she was always in control of herself, etc. She wasn’t, of course, who gave me this sort of message. She was just the first one to verbalize it. But it’s funny that when I hear this message it’s my voice that I hear, not her’s. I hope you expand on this topic a bit more, explain a bit more how you overcame these vicious lies and voices. Your other posts have been so helpful. Keep it up!



Exactly!Especially the comments about feeling fake.I still go in fear around groups of people waiting for someone to figure this out and point a finger, then they’ll all laugh because I don’t belong there.


Hi Eric!
Yes, use writing, use whatever works ~ I did lots of journaling about this. Thanks for your comment!

Hi Patty
I found it easier to listen to the inner voice ~( the one that warned me; the intuitive voice) ~ when I sorted the abusive voices out. I still second guess myself, sometimes but the more I listened (and still listen) to these negative voices in my head, the more emotionally healthy I feel (and I AM) ~ the more I own my own identity, and not the one that I was given by others.

Hi Laura,
Welcome, from the sounds of your comment, can I hope that you had a breakthrough!! ?
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Susan!
You bring up a great point here, it is so important that we validate the pain of each hurt. Most of us have been discounted forever, and that is a big part of the problem. But we can validate ourselves, express the hurt and pain, and sooth ourselves. This is a big part of the “re-parenting” process that I have often mentioned.
Thanks Susan!

Hi Becky,
Yes ~ I found there were many voices, many painful memories, many people who were in authority over me. I seemed to have taken over where they left off… the voice became my voice, until I started to sort that out, to really listen closer. I’ll see what I can do to write a follow up post about this subject!
Thanks for your comments!

Hi Desalie and Welcome,
One of my biggest issues with regards to the “voices” was that I believed I was an imposter, a fake, a phony and that I would be discovered. That was defiantly one of my biggest fear things.
Hugs, Darlene


I sure could use some out side voices to challenge my thinking or actually lack of it. Some great post here.


I love it going to try this, never thought about questioning them really this is brilliant. I would say that this is the stuff that has been holding me back in many areas of my life. I feel at times that I have not been fully living my life due to things I had no idea what to do or how to make it easier for me.

I realize even writing this comment to you about the amount of inner voices that are negative, also I think that is why I am wanting to be friends with people who are negative and not nice and like to ridicule me. So it was my version of making sure I stayed down and in my place. I have removed all the negative people in my life and starting fresh and i need to start on the inner voices as this will be the battle for me and another part to my journey of healing and getting to where I want to be in life. Your blog has given me much hope and discovering it has come at the right time in my life so thank you :).


Hi Clare
This was a really big thing for me; a real break through concept. Once I started doing it the results were quick enough that the fears around it were quickly reduced. The biggest thing was remembering to pay attention; I had been so used to ignoring them and using coping methods to block them out. Thanks for being here!

I am really thrilled with the responses to this blog post.
Hugs, Darlene


I have also had those voices as well but I was taught you combat those voices with the truth of Gods word not jsut to talk back to them because they will just keep coming back up because Gods Word is like a two edged sword and can conquer these voices! I know longer ehar them becasue I used Gods WOrd and His truths that I am made in His image and if I am made in his image then I am pretty amazing because I am a child of God! Their are so many truths in His word that you can use to conquer every lie in your head that is being told to you and more than likely those voices are satan interjecting those lies so you will believe them. The Bible says the devil comes to steal,kill and destroy and he will do it through your thought life because he knows your past but remind him of his future and you are more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ who loves you! Jeremiah 29:11 says He knows the plans He has for you plans of to prosper you and not harm you, plans for good and not evil and plans to give you a future and a hope! don’t listen to the lies of the devil, they are not your voices!


I am sure that you don’t mean any harm with your post and this is great that this worked for you, however this didn’t do it for me and I was left feeling as though I did something wrong, that I didn’ t pray the right way or I didn’t have enough faith. I was open to a lot of spiritual abuse too and although I am healed today and have a very close relationship with God today, I am very careful not to suggest to others that “all they need is God’s truth” becasue it wasn’t that easy for me. (and I don’t want anyone to get really discouraged and give up like I almost did.) The lies in my head came from the abuse in my past, ~ from people. Many of them were christians and presented themselves as Godly people. I am not saying that the way you are speaking of here doesn’t work, just that not everyone can overcome abuse or the voice in their heads this way. In my case, the fact that I could not make the negative self talk go away just by praying and being faithful to God and devoting myself to formal Bible study etc.. the fact that I could not make a full recovery that way made me feel worse, more sick, more depressed, more of a failure etc.
I did not get anywhere by ignoring the voices in my head, that is what this whole post is about.


My first therapy, which I sought due to marriage falling apart, was a group setting. The “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” model. Learned lots about me. Back then, with that model, those voices were called “parent tapes”. That’s when I realized I was hearing my mother or father’s criticism when I didn’t do something right according to their standards. So long before I knew there really were other voices in my head, I learned I could replace the old tapes with new messages. Different language, same message. Remember those old big reels of tape recorders? That’s what I had. lol


Sheryl, I was taught that way, too. The issue with me was that I was ‘double-minded’ like James 1:8 talks about. I had two opposing beliefs operating and was being pulled this way by those negative voices and that way by the truth. Both of them dictated my behavior, so I wasn’t empowered to move ahead as long as I was “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (verse 6). I was living in conflict. To really live by the truth, I had to do exactly what Darlene described. I had to “take my thoughts captive” by rooting out my old belief system. That was the only way I could truly accept the truth and live by it.


Hi Maggie,
Yes I heard the “old tapes stuff” too, but I could never seem to make myself listen to them ~ it was too scary, and I always ended up doing something “stuffing food in, or zoning out, or running” to stop hearing the voices. Some concepts just take time to adopt! When I think about the way that I resisted some things in the past, I think it is because I really didn’t see a bottom line solution; I saw more of a Band-Aid.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Christina,
Thanks for sharing this and for adding so much more clarity to what I was trying to say! This is really wonderful Christina, I appreciate your contribution and addition to this content so very much.
~ There are different ways to see this whole thing.. I just don’t want to discount any of the ways to freedom because I was so hurt and my process was actually delayed by well meaning religious people in the past. And I was hurt by well meaning people in 12 step programs, and the list goes on. I am trying to share what actually worked for me without muddying the waters.

Hugs, Darlene


Well, I tried the church healing, too, but I couldn’t ‘hear’ the Christian message because the Christians were so mean.What they taught me was not what I read in the Bible. It really confused me.How they carried the message just about finished the rest of my family off a few years ago.That is just my experience.I don’t mean to offend, but Christians I was in contact with were the worst emotional abusers I have ever seen.At the least.

My most powerful negative voices came from the very people my whole life was built around.Family, family friends, church people…I adopted their attitudes toward me because I had no choice at the time. It was ingrained.I believed them because I believed everything they said.

So overcoming those first imprints is hard…..Sort of like I was imprinted to believe I was an ugly duckling, but now I realize I was really a swan, but no one told me.In fact they wanted to keep me from finding out I could EVER be a swan…

Abusers do not like innocence and goodness. I believe it makes them very uncomfortable, so they dirty things up to make themselves more comfortable.They steal trust,hope and kindness and love. They are incredibly selfish.

These inner voices tell me that if I believe the lies I will think no one else but the abusers will ever want anything to do with me. And that is what happened, but it doesn’t have to remin that way.


Yes, I’ve been taught/told that many times about “taking your thoughts captive”. That’s it’s all about telling the bad voices to go away and shut up in the name of Jesus etc etc. To choose not to listen to them. To choose to take authority over them like they’re demons. And d’u know what it don’t work. Why? Cos they aint demons? That’s all part spiritual/religious abuse/wrong teaching etc.

Every single person on the planet has voices from their past in their heads, for some people they’ll be positive ones but for many of us it’s negative stuff that was brainwashed into us by our abusers.

I have so much noise going on in my head, I wouldn’t even call the noise in my head ‘voices’.

But when I’m talking about to my worker about all the negative critical stuff going on in my head, she’ll often say to me who’s voice is it? I’ll stop and look at her and realise sometimes it’s my ex-mother’s critical voice telling me I’m crap etc. That’s when I remind myself what friends have said to me about how precious I am and stuff Jesus has said to me too.

Often I find my reactions agreeing with that voice although with my words I’m disagreeing with the voice.

Sometimes it’s a really little voice and as I listen I realise it’s a child’s voice saying I’m crap and worthless because… and I’ll stop and say no you’re not, that stuff’s rubbish, that was said to you by bad people, you’re really precious etc. and build that inner child up. Sometimes she can’t hear/receive it but other times she tentatively does.

Hearing all the crap negative voices from the past and negative self talk and gently little by little drip drip drip feeding positive stuff in there, slowly but surely the noise in the head calms enough to begin taking in the positive stuff and to tentatively start to believe that the positive stuff is helpful and soothing.

My worker puts it like this, imagine a hi-fi speaker system, one speaker on either side of your head, one is speaking positive stuff and one negative critical stuff. We all have this speaker system, every single human being has this speaker system.

And it’s about retraining it, believing you don’t ‘have’ to listen to the negative critical stuff, you can turn the volume down on that speaker and nothing bad will happen. And you can turn the volume up on the positive speaker.

That visual really helps me, so much that I drew a radio compassion and radio nasty with all the words associated to each one. As I’ve gradually turned the volume down on the one and the volume up on the other little by little I’m hearing less of the negative critical stuff, or paying less attention to it and hearing more or paying more attention to the positive stuff. Why? Because I’ve been training my thoughts to see the positive as valid, helpful and healing, and the negative critical stuff as invalid, unhelpful and destructive.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have any negative voices in my head just that little by little they’re being replaced by the positive stuff. That’s what I really believe is ‘taking thoughts captive’. Not trying to cast them out as if they were demonic in origin.

Wrong thing is ignoring them, that just makes the situation worse and doesn’t do any healing, ignoring them does not invalidate them. Only replacing them with other stuff does.

For those of us who are Christians, yes stuff from the bible helps, and for me stuff Jesus tells me helps because I have a very close relationship Jesus and recognise His voice very well.

Not everyone is a Christian, but actually it doesn’t matter if you are or are not because you still have to work at replacing the negative stuff which was put their by your abusers with positive stuff from yourself, other people, whatever sources you have helping you.

I hope that kind of clarifies and helps


I have learned to question everything that makes me feel “funny” or bad…even when it is my own thoughts. Chances are when I break it down to logic…I can’t find any and can just throw away that idea and go with a different one. I kind of use the whole why do I think that and what are my other options and also the worst case scenario game…if I do that what is the worst that can happen, and then what and so on.

Putting myself out there with my new idea was terrifying and soooooo hard…but was liberating and gets easier every time. Trust me, even though you may not believe me, with practice it gets easier and easier 🙂 That first time I put myself out there…whoaa!


Hi Wendi, that’s a great point. The whole options/worst scenario game is something my worker does with me a lot.


You know Fi…you made me think of something. My therapist “taught” me that so to speak….and she had me read a book called Taming Your Gremlin…the Gremlin is the name that the author (and darn I can’t think of his name) gives to that negative voice or self-image. Lots of useful techniques in that book…I highly recommend it. Also comes on tapes and CD’s I think too.


Hmmm i guess for me the whole bible thing hasnt worked. I liken it to putting freash paint over old paint. The old paint is still there and eventually it blisters through. I got really hurt by people telling me to read my bible more or told i wasnt reading it enuff if i was in a funk. Now i dont bother much. But i like the thought of talking to them to find out who they are and where they are from 🙂 maybee that way i can werk through unforgiveness i have with who ever they are. Or have a good cry 🙂


Fi ~

I totally agree with what you shared … voices from your past I think are different from what demons might put there. The stuff from demons is usually nasty thoughts that jump into your brain out of the blue. Yet we are taught to take our thoughts captive. I love that you brought this up. This is something I have been doing when it comes to the abuse. Now to take my thoughts captive in the area of emotional eating. This is going to take some work when I find myself mindlessly eating. It almost feels like subconscious eating. It’s terrible. I know I don’t need it, and yet somehow my hands find the fish cracker bag and next thing you know I’m enjoying a small dessert bowl of them. I guess I could be thankful that I don’t sit down with the whole bag! :o)


Narelle – I’m sorry you had that experience. I love God’s Word – but I know that when one is in a funk, it’s hard to read. I know, been there. It’s too bad that they just couldn’t talk to you, if that’s what you wanted. We should be picking up and reading God’s Word when we want to, not because we have to. OH, and never underestimate the power of a good cry. 🙂


Thanks for your excellent expansion of this blog post and for sharing your view about the Demon/Satan stuff.
What you have shared was very much like what worked for me too. I love the word pictures you have created with the two radios. YES that is very true. Those kinds of analogies work really well for me too!
Thanks for being here!

Hi Wendy!
this is also great information. I have also used that “what is the worst thing that can happen” question to get me to the other side of something or to help me make a decision!

Hi Narelle
Welcome to the blog and thank you for your honesty. I love your analogy about fresh paint over old paint. That was very true fro me as well. It isn’t just to talk to the voices to find out who they are, but what they believe, because whatever “they are saying” is what YOU believe and that negative self talk is so wrong. (for some more examples read Elizabeth’s comments)
About the bible stuff, when I finally hit my bottom with everything and really decided that it was either get through this stuff or give up and possibly die, I decided to put my faith, the bible and all other things related aside. I knew that God loved me, I just didn’t understand it. There are no “have to’s” or shoulds in my recovery program. I needed to drop all the baggage of all that stuff, and that cleared the slate enough for me to get to the bottom of all this stuff.
p.s. having a good cry is always excellent too!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Paulette!
Here is what I found out about coping methods, all of them even emotional eating. (and I am not perfect with all this) but the key for me is not to work on the coping method. It is to work on the WHY we have one. I eat when I am triggered, sometimes a happy trigger, sometimes a scared trigger, etc. But the more that I look at what the trigger is, (always rooted in a false belief) the more I realize why I reach for a coping method. The more I realize why I reach for a coping method, the more I can correct that false belief! Make sense???
Thanks for your post!
p.s. I hate to admit it but I have sat down with those dang fish crackers MANY times!! LOL and that is what we call them too… fish crackers! LOL

Love and hugs, Darlene


Agh, the inner critic/s from times past. The inner critics, what enormous harm they have done. They always popped up for me, even as an adult and prevented me from speaking up, just like they halted me, prevented me from speaking up as a child. I didn’t hear them as voices as such, just as horrid memories that had a tremendous hold on me. The voices were indeed those voices of the people from my childhood who also denigrated me at every opportunity and they had a vice like grip on me for forty odd years.

No one was permitted to challenge the authority or the behaviour of an adult and when anyone did especially in our family, our mother with a sickening sneer in her voice would say, ‘I love me who do you love,’ meaning that I or any of my siblings who did so, who callenged an adult, were considered to be, being full of myself, ourselves. Full of self importance, of loving myself, ourselves too much to dare to even speak or question her or any other adult in this manner. Any attempt on my part or any of my siblings to speak up was often met with those demeaning words.

The only apt way to describe how that made me feel is to liken it to what happens when you stick a pin in a balloon, absolutely, utterly deflated. I had to look at and eventually challenge those horribly negative statements and the person who said them, before I could consider any semblance of healing. Those words would be even said to us if we were exhibiting signs of being happy as well. Being happy was not permitted either, nor were tears; complete control and condemnation of the child’s behaviour was all that was permitted in a home such as ours.

I was also told often that I was hated because I was a girl. What a disgusting thing for any mother to say to her daughter, for any parent to say something like that to their child. It told me instantly that I was not considered as good as any boy, worthless to many people. What did that say about our mother’s own belief about herself and about other females. Where did that belief come from, who had told her that? All this negativity I had to reverse and I am still a work in motion, still challenging those words, those statements and some of the people who said them. Of course there were many other instances, but I won’t write about them here, as I would be writing for a long time. And those negative statements completely obliterated anything positive that may have been said, wiped them from my memory bank.

Those darned inner critics formed, formulated my entire belief about myself, my world view. That it was wrong, considered evil to like yourself, to even dare to love yourself, oneself. It takes some serious energy to understand what harm was done by all of this and to start to undo it, to unravel it all, to challenge and change.

I do it regularly now, say to myself that I was not, I was never what was said to me, the derogatory names they called me. How dare they, how dare they pick on a child, speak to a child in such a way. They were just that and more, bullies!!!

Thanks for giving me another tool Darlene. I just realised that I was being too kind, too calm, too controlled in the words that I use to challenge what my abusers said. I was being too nice.


Dear Darlene,

I, too, have heard these inner voices for my entire life…especially as I got closer to adulthood. When I was about 25, I actively tried to retrain my brain to give me the truth. For instance, when I thought I am a failure…I would re-direct and say, “No, I made a mistake. One mistake does not make me a failure. I have done x and y right!” This seemed to work for a time. However, with the revelations of the sexual abuse (incest) in the last couple of years coupled with understanding that my mother was an abuser, as well…I have begun to crumble on re-directing my inner voices. Then, more recently I remembered that along with the 18 year long incestual relationship with my father, there was at least one other sexual abuser…I am having trouble hearing any “good” voices. The only ones I can hear are: “You are a whore.” “Nobody else will love you because you are so dirty.” “You are only useful for one thing…sex.”
“You will never amount to anything.” “You are stupid and your opinions are, too.” “You are ugly and disgusting.” AND the list goes on…

I love that you have created this particular blog. I just wish I had a more positive revelation to share.



Hi Kathryn,
Something about your comment hit me ~ I remember that expression too, “i love me who do you love”. I remember the sneer… I had forgotten about it but as I was reading your post and I could actually feel my face fall.. I could feel the memory coming back. And then I heard her voice. What a nasty expression that is. Meant to squish the “everything” out of the child. Wow.. I am glad that you reminded me!
Thank you for sharing all of this Kathryn, I found my eyes filling while reading some of these posts.. some of this stuff is so hurtful. We were kids.. children.
I love what you said in conclusion ~ that you have been too nice. Sometimes it is great to give it back to the bully voices.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Cassie
At first (especially with a recent memory) this is hard, and the voices almost made me agree… but really Cassie, YOU didn’t do anything wrong, your father did. They did this to you, and that doesn’t make you a whore or stupid or any of those other things. I hope that you can eventually correct the voices that are lying to you, and please remember that sometimes this whole thing also takes time. Thanks for sharing your truth Cassie!

One other thing, and this is for everyone, we don’t always have to be positive, I am extremely happy when everyone is just being real. I didn’t recover by being positive, I recovered by facing the horrors, being real, and facing those feelings that came with all that..
Hugs, Darlene


Yes Darlene, I couldn’t give it to, ’em’, as a child, but I sure can now, even if they are not always around in person, as at least one of them, our mother is no longer alive.

I can now backchat that inner critic/s if they dare to try and usurp me or undermine me and I feel entirely comfortable in doing so now.

I enjoy reading what both others and you, yourself post. Very much so in fact. It moves me profoundly, sometimes to a stream or two of tears, or three even, but it also reminds me, reinforces, that I am no longer Alone. You will probably never know how much and what you all say, what you all contribute, how it helps, because I have been alone, or had been feeling completely alone for such a long, long time.

I imagine it helps others in the exact same way, simultaneously, those who are at the beginning and in the midst of their healing as well; to see and know and grasp that there are people out there in the wider world who truly do understand. We are all a work in progress, learning all the time and growing and then growing some more.

Now all I have to do when I need to, is to practice and if needs be, challenge those who choose to still carry on in that way, the old way. That I am still learning to do, but working very hard on. I was such a Lady and still am most of the time, however not always, swear like a trooper on the odd occasion. 😉

A big hug to you all from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


That’s such a good point about being real. I’ve survived by pretending all was well (a learned behaviour from childhood) when all wasn’t well, wearing a false smile when inside my heart was broken, I stayed alive just!

Now I’m being real, being honest, tearing those walls down and saying how it really was and how it really is, there is healing in that. It is so healing to now be able to be real.


[…] been looking for someone to tell me that I was okay; all my life I had believed everyone else’s definition of who I was, so it makes sense that I thought that I should look for someone to give me permission to be […]


Kathryn, ~ how cool to get a hug all the way from Brisbane, Queensland Australia!
I think that coming together and sharing this way is very powerful, helpful and healing. I had one friend that I would process stuff with over the phone and in email and it was very powerful and I really saw the need for something “bigger” ~ That was the very beginning of my thoughts towards creating this online. I find it reinforces me too, ery much so. Thank you for being here and for your encouragement.

Fi ~ You bring up a great point here too, that our pretending was part of our survival methods and that we have to recognize that if we are to be able to stop doing it. Such a powerful statement that you have made here!
Thanks so much,
Hugs, Darlene


Just telling those inner voices to shut up and ignoring them is another form of denial for me. I did that for many years and it didn’t help. They didn’t stay quiet anyway and just piled on more fog for me to try to see my way through.

For ten years or more of my young adulthood, I tried ignoring and denying that the abuse and the inner voices were there. The denying just helped me make me more unhappy and hating myself.

I don’t remember what self-help book told me to write down what those inner critical voices were saying. I used affirmations to counteract my critical inner voice. I was told to write down the affirmation followed by what my critical inner voice said. Then write down the affirmation again followed by the critical inner voice statement that I heard in my head. You keep writing the affirmation and what the critical voice says until at some point the critical voice stops. It worked for me. I did lots of writing before the voice finally shut up. This worked for me but it wasn’t an instant fix. It helped to make me more aware of those critical voices in my head. As Darlene said, those critical voices are just telling you lies.


Hi Patricia,
I agree, just telling them to shut up was a form of denial for me too and YES they just added to the burden. I had done the affirmation thing too, and I think what took so long is that I never believed the affirmation! As soon as I stopped doing the affirmation, some of the effects of it wore off! LOL
Thanks for being here and adding your voice Patricia!
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene, it took several years of working with the affirmations before I began to believe them too. Just like the rest of my journey, the work was worth where I went and the time spent getting there. What I gave was just a simplified example. This was just one of the tools that I used in my journey to wellness.


[…] Hearing Negative Self Talk? (via Emerging from Broken blog) [SEO: "I became aware years ago of the negative self talk that went […]


Hi everyone, Great conversation! Patricia, you said that affirmations were just one tool you used on your journey to wellness. What else did you do? I’d be really interested to hear whatother tools some of you used to have real breakthroughs. I know it’s not the same for everybody but I’m standing at the door of all this and am hungry for ways forward. Thanks


Julie, I built a support system of friends that I could trust to tell me the truth and that really loved me. I read all of the books that I could find on the subject of incest and alcoholism. I went to 12-Step meetings. Adult Children of Alcoholics taught me about me and Al-Anon taught me about relationships. I talked to everyone who would listen to my story. I had 38 years that I didn’t talk about the hidden secret of incest in my family. Once I started going to 12-Step meetings, I talked and talked and talked for almost 10 years before I got it all out. I wrote journals at different times. One thing that helped me to become not so negative with myself and with others was a gratitude journal that I kept for about 3 of those years. Every day I would make a list of 3-10 things that I was grateful for in my life. Early in the morning or last thing in the evening seem to be the best times for me. The books that made the biggest difference for me were 2 books by Melody Beattie called Codependent No More and Beyond Codependency and a book by John Bradshaw called Healing The Shame That Binds You. A book that I ran across recently and reread is called Becoming Your Own Parent, The Solution for Adult Children of Alcoholics and Other Dysfunctional Families written by Dennis Wholey.


Hi Darlene

Am so tucked away from the rest of the world right now trying to hide and sort out all the things in my head.. everything coming to the front at one time.

I even asked a week off from school and am going to ask one more I believe..

I am seeing things more clearly with the help of your blog and therapy and the biggest thing is how much negative talk I have been feeding to me.

I grew up hearing but negative.. it become so much apart of me. that hearing anything else seemed to me a dream.

Most times I heard nothing else. .mom hated me..siblings were too busy surviving till they left me church though me disrespectful for telling what happened at home.. teachers thought i was hopeless merely because of the home I come from and other students made fun of me becaue I was the girl whose daddy run away.

Its all in me to think .. nothing good will come from me.. so much so when people say nice things now.. when i do really good .. I say it’s not me. no it can’t be me .. I know “me” and the me i know is worhless, a mistake, stupid, ugly, hopeless. illegitimate..

I do all my homework..to say nice things to me.. but still deep down am laughing at myself . saying you can’t really believe what you are saying.

I know all that negative stuff was bad yet I still wont let me believe am good.. like i have to keep on punishing myself with everyone’s lies about me..

Without effort I can write beautiful poetry yet .. i say no thats no me . that’s god i don’t do that. not me. people say i sing beautifully and i say no . not me. thats not me at all. I tell myself before trying something new you might as well not try ..dont you know you can’t do anything?

After coming to realize how mean I have been to myself ..I get mad at myself. .now isn’t that a mess!!! . .

I know that am worth something.. that the voices that come out and say bad things of me are not true..yet they keep on going.Does it take time to stop all those bad things ..from making me feel bad about me?



sorry .. i meant to sign my name joy


Just read this with a lot of interest and still do not understand i am a year and half into my healing journey and have been hearing these thoughts for a while. especially towards others and very negative towards my self and others I hear the voices during therapy telling me do not tell etc…I am very confused and scared about it all. It feels like my own voice not different voices, my T has asked about them and asked me to write what they are actually saying towards myself and others which i did but found that very hard I am just very confused about all this. Jay


Hi Jay
Welcome to EFB. In my case my own voice had very often taken over “reminding” me not to tell, reminding me that I was unworthy. I learned to listen to understand where they came from in the first place. What made me believe or even remind myself that I was not worthy? It was the incidents/ traumas etc. that “taught” me how I was defined by others and then by myself. Once I understood how I defined myself, I was able to move forward. I had to understand the lies that I believed, before I could change them to the truth about myself and who I am.
Hugs, Darlene


I just read this and I can’t understand how your journey getting rid of the voice was so easy. The voice in my head is always being nasty to me, it has an aswer to everything, and I daren’t ask it anything other than to shut up because if I let it go on and on it soon tells me to hurt myself and if I don’t then it controls my arms and hands and makes me. I hate the voice in my head and I believe I am as worthless and unlovable as it says and now I believe it I can’t just stop and so it will never go away. Also nobody has ever been this horrible verbally to me so it can’t be somebody elses voice, it is my own second voice that has grown because of all the bad stuff that has happened in my life which in turn confirms that I am worthless and unlovable just like it says. I don’t know what to do. Please help me, I may be 19 but I feel like a child and all alone.


Hi Nicola
Welcome to Emerging from Broken
The voice doesn’t grow only becasue of verbal abuse. You said that it is your ‘second voice’ that has grown because of all the bad stuff that has happened to you; those things don’t confirm anything bad about you, they confirm bad about the people that did those things. The voice comes from the messages that we got (nonverbal) about ourselves ‘because’ of those bad things that happened. Silencing the voice is about finding out what those messages are/were and changing them back to the truth. I hope you read some more of this website. There is lots of support and info here.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
Many years ago I was sitting on my bed feeling crumy about being an outsider and sort of just letting the feeling sink in. Later on that evening (still laying down on my bed) I actually started hearing a nasty very mean voice. It told me I was pathetic, stupid, an embarrasment … you get the picture. It wasn’t like a voice in the room, it was more like I tuned into my thoughts and just listened into what was going on. My first resction was “wow, how interesting”, but that was immediately followed by Holy F#$k, I must be psyczofrantic if I cn hear voices. Mind you these were thoughts that were not being produced by me at least on a conscience level!
That fear ( being crazy) was enough for me to never allow those “voices” to show up again. However, I am now wondering if I missed an oppotunity by not engaging with the voice all these years. I have recently discovered Richard Schwartz and IFS therapy, I am reading his book where he describes multiple parts I.e., selves within ourself that are often times at conflict with one another. Anyways, I thought i’d share my story.



Hi Tom
Welcome to EFB ~ Ya, I thought I was a little crazy too! But this method worked really well for me and helped me overcome so much more.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,

I’d like to ask your opinion. Do you feel that tuning back into these voices i.e., like the ones I heard many years ago would be a good idea? My feeling is that these voices are going on at an unconscious level anyway and that tuning into them might give me insight into why I feel so lousy & unworthy so much of the time. However, I really don’t want to go crazy and hearing voices is one of the signs. I was able to effectively push away these voices (thoughts what have you…) for the past 20 years, at least on a conscience level, but maybe it is time to hear them again and start to work with them. What do you think? I feel like I am asking is I should try swimming in the deep end of the pool, with the risk of drowning into insanity. I am both excited and scared at the same time. Deep-down I feel that the only way to heal is to face my demons, and if that means hearing voices then so be it.
I should also mention that I don’t believe i can just conjure up these voices at a whim. No I think it will take a level of trust and maybe a trained therapist perhaps in IFS or Ego state therapy to allow the voices i.e., parts of myself to come back into my awareness.
Would love to hear your opinion on the matter.


Is it alright if I just type/write out what these thoughts in my head keep telling me, like a track set on repeat in the background, that I can only make out the words of which the constant hum consists of if I concentrate, or let myself fall back into that dungeon in my mind. They tell me I’m useless, I’ll never be good enough, I’m nothing without my grades, I’m evil, I never have and never will be good enough, all that I have and ever will deserve is constant pain, I should die but I should live to continue suffering, I’m nothing but an attention-seeker (this one I recognize as an adapted version of what my mom told me in a fight that we had)… And those ones seem to be the only ones I can hear right now, but I’m sure there are more. Oh wait, apparently that was a trigger of some sort, because now one piped up and said I’m a liar, so what’s the point in trying to get help… No, it said, “You’re a liar, don’t bother telling them, no one’s going to believe you.” So should I do the opposite of what those voices tell me to do? And yes, when I say voices, I do mean thoughts, but I can easily hear them in… my mind’s “ear”?


Hi Molly
Welcome to EFB ~ That is how those thought worked for me too ~ just like that! What I did was address them. I drilled down deeper and asked “why do you say that?” type questions and I got some clarity about their origins. Those voices are never right but they have an origin. I learned to gently reassure myself that those voices were wrong as I learned to look at where they came from in the first place.
hugs, Darlene


Thanks 🙂 I’m going to have a go at entering into the dialogue as it seems like a good idea. My voices are often indistinct angry voices, which I worked out to be people arguing in another room and me assuming they were arguing about me or because of me. I do have voices that seem to want to look after me too though, I’m rather spontaneous and do things without thinking and the voices say I should have been more thoughtful/careful and not so impulsive. I’ve always fought with the idea that I feel like a “good” person but the voices remind me that that’s not how I’m seen. I’ve suffered from depression most of my life and have accepted that the voice of depression is not trustworthy and it just wants to keep you under control but it’s very hard to battle on, so now I won’t, I’ll make it a conversation and see how it goes. I like to be in control of my own brain and to be instrumental in a “cure” for my constant companion…….watch this space…….if I remember to come back and report! Fibro-fog etc.


Hi Nina
Welcome to EFB ~ glad that this blog resonated with you.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


It is interesting that all of us have similar stories to share about hearing voices or thoughts. For myself, it had been years and it only happened once. However, it was an eye opening experience. I feel I pushed these voices away so that I would never allow them to reach a concise level, for fear of insanity. However, I am now hoping to develop a relationship with this inner dialogue again.
What strikes me as odd, is that if you try and look up the subject to find out more about it, you won’t find much. Just descriptions of audio hallucinations, signs of mental illness etc… Is it any wonder I pushed these voices away for as long as I have.


Hi Tom
Yes it is very interesting and odd that we are instructed to push them away and that there is not much info on this. I tried for YEARS to push them away and when I listened to them, and spoke back to them to go deeper, everything changed.
Thanks for sharing,
hugs, Darlene


[…] that most human beings shouldn’t be trusted because they are all potentially, dangerous. Both my inner critic and outer critic lie to me and they present themselves as my greatest obstacle in healing from the abuse I suffered during my […]


Honestly I’m sorry for your inner pain, but what you said I hear constantly in my life with no control over. Every time I look for answers I get mental wounds and negate my thoughts. You are strong for revealing with the dark says in your mind the abyss can make someone suffer so much and honestly we become so weak I need you are strong for revealing with the dark says in your mind the abyss can make someone suffer so much and honestly we become so weak Any light that shines in the darkness we run to it just to see if maybe there’s a resolution. I also have a problem that I believe people around me know exactly what’s going on in the voice inside is my enemy yet at the same time tries to show me that everyone around me is just fake. My only concern is why listen to something that’s not there ask questions if you’re just going to continuously get stabbed in the brain to make you weaker when you’re out in the real world again. Are used to believe all my friends could see you world that I didn’t understand used to believe that my lover didn’t want to be with me anymore she wanted the voice because there was more to it than I could ever give her or show her. I feel like the people who have the best intentions were the ones that are hurt the most. I cannot find the voices reason for being here, and I’ve tried many times to get them out I just accepted that I’m sick. And I don’t deserve a normal life anymore but it was just just need to make it that way and then I wonder why would they try and protect me from the people around me that I believe are given subliminal messages. My hypothesis is it’s all bullshit . I live life thinking people speaking code I put myself in the story this speaking trying to change so I’m not the loser anymore but it just makes it worse I end up becoming numb as well to the point my creativity is completely drained .and I’m lifeless at that point I start to believe that something takes over and that’s the whole reason for this game. I really don’t know but honestly I know what to suffer new and I’m lifeless at that point I start to believe that something takes over and that’s the whole reason for this game. I really don’t know but honestly I know what to suffering is i’m sorry you do with the shadows is well. I hope you find your euphoria in life and find the exit to your brain and the entrance to reality the reality that people around you are there for you the reality that people around you actually give a damn. If you do find a resolution Share to the world. some of the really smokes honest people are mentally dying because of woes they don’t even believe but are forced to for some reason . Believe in yourself keep your aspirations high. Everyone deserves to live out of the darkness but not everyone finds how


Thanks, this has given me a brand new perspective on getting rid of the negative voices that I’ve been dealing with for many years. Today, I’m going to find and confront them, rather than waiting for them to find me 🙂 Love this proactive approach!


Hi Lucy,
Welcome to EFB!!
hugs, Darlene


Hello Darlene, your story is quite similar to mine, my parents and sibling kept crushing. my self-esteem. I adopted self-destructive behavior since childhood. I had a major poisonous couple relationship which has further destroyed me . I began to hear his negative voice for many months. I still cannot figure out of how can I remove that. For some days , it literally obliterates my self-esteem . Thank you for this article … it brings a ray of hope !


Hello Darlene, Thank you so much for writing this article. It is nice to know that someone else understands what I mean when I say that I always hear my Mother’s nagging hypercritical voice in my head. Therapists never seem to understand what I mean & I do not know why they do not get it. It is especially difficult when shopping for home decor, groceries, clothes, etc. by myself. I always hear my Mother’s nagging voice telling me that my decor choice is hideously ugly, the food will make me fat, & the clothes are too expensive. It is especially difficult when I make something creative. I have always loved art & crafting. All that I ever hoped for was for my Mother to tell me that something that I made was beautiful. Instead, her & her horrible husband would make fun of me, ignore me, lecture me about how it was made wrong, point out my “mistakes”, go nuts because I made a “mess” in my own paint tray/did not clean my own paint brush well enough, etc. It is really hard now seeing her in person because the nagging criticism is then really happening in real life as opposed to just in my head.


I actually bought myself a bright red couch & there are beautiful colors all over my home to sort of “combat” the voices. It feels really liberating every time I use my own money to buy the sushi at the grocery store that I really enjoy or I buy a pretty new shirt from my favorite store to wear to work. As I leave the store with my purchases, I sometimes stop & I think to myself, “Take THAT voices! Yeah, I just did something for myself, so what are you going to do about it?!”


I wanted to add to this conversation that it is possible that the voices we are hearing are actually disassociated parts of ourselves, not just internalized voices from our past. As children, our brains consist of very distinct “personalities” that do not congeal until we are older. If you suffer trauma as a child, usually repeated and often perceived as life-threatening at the hands of a primary caregiver, it can interrupt healthy integration from happening, ergo, very distinct and separate selves still present as an adult.

Key signs of this phenomenon would be: highly distinctive memory variations that fluctuate from day to day, inability to recall key personal information that is too far-reaching to be explained as mere forgetfulness, other types of amnesia, lost blocks of time, extreme reactions to people or situations that you can’t seem to control, a sense of observing yourself doing things or saying things as if you are someone else, i.e., out of body experiences, hearing audible voices telling you things that you don’t expect to hear or that you are not conscious of originating, along with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, thoughts of suicide, sleep disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, trances, self-persecution, self-sabotage, and compulsions to do things you wouldn’t normally do.

Although this sounds frightening, it is possible to befriend these other “selves” and by doing so begin to start integrating with them, even the less pleasant of them. I don’t believe that we will ever be as we might have been had we not been “broken,” but at least we will not be at war with our other selves. To thine own self be true.

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