Have you ever noticed that you can hear your thoughts? If you pay attention, you’ll almost hear a voice – not the kind that would put you away in a white coat, but the voice of your own mind. The question is, what’s it saying to you?
The critical, negative voice
Our internal voices often have fairly nasty things to say, like “You’re not good/beautiful/hot/clever/thin/strong enough” or “You’ll never make it/pass this exam/meet your perfect lover”.
This voice can come from several different sources, for example:
- Family: Children believe what they’re told so if our parents or siblings put us down , our internal voice often echoes that.
- Community: If we grew up around people who didn’t think much of themselves, we tend to take that on.
- School: If we didn’t fit in or do well at school, or even worse, were told that we’re bad or stupid, we might end up believing that.
- Advertising: We’re constantly being bombarded with (mostly fake) images of rich, good-looking, happy people and there’s no way we can measure up to that.
What to do about it
The good news is that we can take charge of that inner voice. Here’s how:
- If you notice you’re thinking something negative, immediately stop.
- Ask yourself where that voice comes from – one of the sources above or maybe from somewhere else?
- Thank whoever it came from for doing the best they knew how to do (there’s no point in spreading more negative energy around).
- Now change the thought into a question that’ll help you move forward constructively.
For example, if you hear yourself thinking, “I’ll never pass this course”, the question might be, “What would I need to do to pass this course?“ Your thinking then shifts towards solutions rather than dwelling on the problem, and you can come up with some action points like:
- Set aside enough time to study.
- Ask questions when I don’t understand.
- Find someone who can help me with the sections I’m struggling with.
- Remember my motivation e.g. “If I pass this course, I’ll be able to study further in the field I’m interested in.”