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

79 response to "Hearing Negative Self Talk?"

  1. By: Melinda Posted: 28th November

    So much truth in all of this and more. I can relate, because not a day goes by where I don’t catch myself recalling the abusive words of others.

    I am often VERY harsh towards myself because I could never forget any of it…it’s pretty much ingrained into my psyche.
    Because of it, I compare myself with everyone around me (more with other women) and I’m constantly on the defensive because I’ve been a target of hurtful treatment from others.

    I think the key to unlearning the damage from verbal/emotional abuse, both from ourselves and other people, is to see that what we have been told about ourselves are LIES.
    First we have to identify the source of the “voices”. Who made us feel inferior, ashamed, unworthy?
    And what might have motivated them to tell us these things? Because looking at it this way helps to turn it back around on the abusers…it helps us to see how they projected their own ugliness outward and that although we may have internalized what they did or said to us, it was all a LIE.
    They hate themselves deep down and they want us to hate ourselves too.

    It reminds me of the time a very obese woman called me the “N-word” in a group of people.
    That memory has stayed with me although it happened about 10 or 11 years ago.
    But although it still hurts, I now realize that she hated herself for being fat and unattractive and trashy…her “whiteness” was the only way she could feel some sense of superiority, some sense of self-worth. Being racist towards me made her feel like somebody.
    We should always consider the source of the hate, and the motives behind it.
    People who are TRULY confident and happy don’t actively seek to destroy others.

    A very smart lady once told me to question things constantly. So that’s what I am now trying to do.
    When certain thoughts pop up, I try to catch myself and say “you know what? That is FALSE. That is a LIE”.
    And then I try (although it’s very hard) to affirm myself, to remind myself of my worth.
    But I am only speaking for myself here…it is VERY hard to overcome negative self-talk, esp. after years of verbal and emotional abuse from others.

  2. By: Nicole Posted: 19th November

    This is unbelievably true. I have a aunt who seems to be stuck in my head. Her voice is always within every person I meet. Making me think that I am not worthy of there presence. Making feel like I am just an annoyance on this earth. That I am just causeing everyone grief. That I am such aberden. She was my main care giver growing up… for 10 years. How do you get rid of 10 years of voices. I struggle most with my daughter. Beings my mother AND father gave me up when I was six, I always have a negative voice saying That I am not loving my daughter enough… I’ve resided in alcohol ever since I left my aunts (even before I had my daighter) for 8 years now. I know I have an issue and it’s a terrible downward spiral… I know the alcohol is only a temporary fix to the voices but it gets rid of them… it’s the only thing that gets rid of them… it’s really so sad… because of my aunt telling me my mom and dad were worthless because they didn’t want me… she made me feel like I did something for them not to want me. She made me feel that I was just an annoyance that they and nobody else wanted to deal with. I was an unworthy child she got stuck with. Got stuck feeding and paying for. She used to beat me and my sister for being disappointments. Hit us when we were trying to be ourselves. Be an individual person. When we did something wrong she went over the top beating use and screaming profanities on how terrible we were. It’s just all in my head yet… now with every comments day activity or interaction with another human, I feel like they are her. Looking down on me and casting judgement and thinking I am the worst. Unworthy annoyance…. HOW DO WE (MY SISTER AND I) GET RID OF HER VOICE… please give me examples, ideas, anything! I am hurting and want to be a confident mother for my daughter.

  3. By: Selina Posted: 18th August

    I have a lot of abandonment issues, and some of the voices are probably things my mother has said to me and some are ”friends” or ex’s. Any of the voices have turned into my own by now though, and I feel as if I have no help because we don’t have the money to get me seen and my mother believes I make it all up and have nothing wrong with me. Sometimes when I get so angry I ball up, cry, and hit myself. No idea why exactly but I find it better to “hit the problem” than my walls or anything else. I honestly don’t know what to do anymore

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