In this article, you will learn a number of practical and effective ways to tame your negative internal voice. This is the internal dialogue or self-talk that runs a commentary of your life, which is often negative.
What would it be like to stop or reduce this negative internal voice? You know the one that makes you feel bad or stops you in your tracks.
This article will help you have a different relationship with your negative internal voice so that it controls you less and less.
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This is really important! You are not your negative internal voice, The inner dialogue inside your head is NOT really you. You’re just the one that hears it. This internal dialogue that you hear affects how you feel, behave, and how you do things. However, the real you is separate from that negative internal voice. The real you is not that internal voice.
The difference between You and your negative internal voice
There are two parts. The first part is You (or your consciousness). This includes your awareness, sense of identity, your ambitions, goals and your core being. The other part is this internal voice that provides a commentary of everything that is happening in your life, including all the things you are seeing, hearing, and feeling. It’s like a sports commentary. When things are going well, the internal voice is quiet and slow. When something exciting happens, then that voice is loud and fast. It’s also loud and fast when something negative or scary happens.
Your internal voice manipulates your experience according to your beliefs, sense of identity, self-image, and self-worth. When all is well, this voice will say nice things to you and make you feel good. When things go badly, this internal voice may say things that make you feel fearful or anxious.
So here are some examples of this internal voice working against you in different situations
- You make a mistake or do something poorly. This negative voice says things like “you always make mistakes”, or, “you’re a stupid person”
- Talking to another person. Rather than really listening to the other person, this negative voice chirps up and says things like “I don’t like the way he’s talking” or “I don’t like his mannerisms”, or “am I coming across well to this person?”, or “does this person like me?” It’s like this negative internal voice is either judging you or the other person.
- You’re trying to solve a problem and you keep thinking about it over and over again.
- You are worrying about future situations. it could be work, health, finances or overall security. This internal voice runs a negative internal commentary about the future.
Your inner roommate
In his book The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, he describes this negative internal voice as your inner roommate. Imagine having this roommate that’s constantly criticizing and saying bad things about you. How would you deal with this roommate? More on this later.
The problem is that your mind engages or pays attention to this endless chatter, or negative internal voice. However, now that you know that this internal voice is not really you, you can begin to separate that voice from the real you.
So, how do you tame your negative internal voice?
1. Become aware of this negative internal voice
The first step to tame your negative internal voice is to notice or become more aware of it. Notice what it says and how it’s saying it. However, make sure that you don’t just blindly follow what it says. Remember, it’s not you. It’s just that negative internal voice.
2. Develop an attitude of curiosity
Rather than blindly following it, start to be more curious about the thoughts and words that come to mind. Ask yourself, “why is it thinking that way?”, or “what is the positive intention behind this?”
Another way is to think of the negative internal voice as like traffic on a highway. Start by visualizing that you are on the side of a highway (or on a bridge) watching the traffic. It’s evening rush hour and the cars are bumper to bumper. Then imagine the traffic reducing and notice the spaces between the cars as it gets later and later. As you visualize the gaps in the traffic, begin to notice gaps in your internal dialogue or thoughts. Notice the times when you have an absence of thoughts.
Never try to stop this internal negative voice directly. This doesn’t work. Remember, what you resist, persists! The more you try and stop it, the worse it gets. Instead, just remember that this negative internal voice is not you and then choose to let it go as you breathe out.
Remember that this internal voice is useful when you’re in physical danger. That’s what it’s there for, However, most of the time, we are not in immediate physical danger. In these times, you can choose to ignore it, or just let it go.
3. Think of this voice as another person
Think of your negative internal voice as a real person that is talking to you (or even shouting at you!). As mentioned earlier, Michael Singer suggests thinking of this negative internal voice as your inner roommate.
Then ask yourself, “would I allow another person to talk to me in such a negative or impolite way”. Would I really allow someone else to talk to me like that? How would you react if someone did talk to you in that way? What would you do? Would you argue with them? Would you convince them that you’re not really like that? Start to challenge what you are hearing as if it was coming from a real person.
Also, ask yourself, “is this what I want?” The answer will almost certainly be No! Who wants a negative person like that in their head telling them what they can and can’t do!
4. Turn down the volume or change the tone
This is a great technique that comes from NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Imagine you have a remote control (like a TV remote) and see yourself slowly decreasing the volume on the remote control device. Keep doing this until your negative internal voice becomes just a whisper. Then turn it off completely. This is a great technique to use when you notice that the voice is quite loud and dominating.
You can also change the tone of this internal voice. Start by listening to it. Then ask, does it remind you of someone? Perhaps it sounds like one of your parents, a school teacher or some other authority figure. Even if it doesn’t remind you of someone, ask yourself if this voice is very stern or serious? If it is, then you can change it.
When it’s a male voice, change it to a female voice. When it’s a female voice, change it to a male voice. You can also change the accent. Imagine this voice with a silly accent, perhaps a naughty french accent! – how does that change things? Most people notice that the meaning and power of their negative internal voice is reduced when they change the tone.
5. Change “I” statements to “You” statements
Here are some examples
“I am so stupid”, change it to “You are so stupid”.
“I just can’t do this”, change it to “You just can’t do this”.
This is even more effective when you write down these statements as you notice them. Grab your journal and start writing down all the negative “I” statements that you can think of, and then change them to “you” statements.
By doing this, you separate these statements from your identity and that creates a powerful positive shift. It feels like your inner roommate is saying it to you, rather than you saying it to yourself. This little change of language can really help neutralize the feelings and particularly the negative emotions that can come from that internal voice.
Another great way to tame your negative internal voice is meditation. Meditation has many benefits and this will be the topic of another blog post. However, the great thing about meditation is the ability to focus on one thing only. Now, that one thing could be your breathing, or a guided meditation or hypnosis recording.
The key to meditation is to develop the skill to notice very quickly when you’re mind wonders and then gently bring it back to whatever you are focussing on.
So, when you’re focusing on something, your negative internal voice will try and interrupt it. And it will do this many times, especially when you start meditating and that’s okay. When you notice your mind wandering, gently breathe out and allow that voice to fade into the background.
Regular Meditation also improves your concentration and focus. It also makes the I part of you (the you that is not your negative internal voice) much stronger over time.
So, I highly recommend doing about 10 minutes of meditation each day. This will really help you to control that negative internal voice in your head.
So these are a few great ways to help you tame your negative internal voice. And remember that just by reading this article, you’re going to start to look at your internal voice differently. Continue to keep in mind this idea that you and your internal voice are two different parts. When you do this, you’ll notice a profound change in the relationship that you have with your internal voice.
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