I have struggled with a mean voice in my head my entire life. “You messed up,” “You can’t do anything right,” “You’re a failure”, “What were you thinking?” “Why did you do/say/think that?” “How could you not have known?” When I was young I thought I was the only one who had it. I believed the voice. I thought it spoke the truth. I felt crushed by it. It was a condemning voice and I thought it would help me become a better person if I listened to it. I was wrong about that. These days I don’t allow myself to believe it, but now and then I can’t help myself and those are the days when everything is harder. Those are the days when the people I love will suffer because that voice isn’t content to stay internal for long. No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I tell myself I’m not going to repeat those hurtful words to someone else, I end up doing so because self-hatred is never kept completely contained. Those of us who struggle with self loathing tend to hurt others a great deal, which then feeds our self-loathing.
“Self knowledge avails us nothing.” ~ Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Awareness, acceptance, action. These are the steps I know to take if I want to change my behavior. These are the things I must do on a daily basis, sometimes hour by hour. These are the things I stumble over, like giant boulders in my path. Someone else yelling at me to stop listening to the voices does NOT help. Someone else scolding me for having hurtful voices in my head only ADDS to my stress and the noise, it does not lessen it. Awareness – I have to acknowledge I’m listening to the cruel voice. Acceptance – I have to accept I’m in a dark place, that this is what is going on, that this is my reality in this moment, without judgement, without condemnation. Breathe. Action – this is the most difficult piece. What actions can I take now that I’ve become aware and have accepted that this is where I am? Often action has nothing to do with any of it. For me action works best in the form of a small or big act of kindness. If I’m in self-pity or when I have tremendous ego, an anonymous act of kindness is by far the most helpful and centering thing I can do.
Feel the pain of the moment but do not be controlled by it. Feel the anger/irritation/impatience, but do not allow it to take the lead. Can I do this? Can I just allow myself to be? Can I reach out with love instead of anger? If the answer in this moment is no, then can I just be silent, without turning my anger and frustration inward? Can I just do nothing at all until this passes? These things are easy to write about, but so much harder to practice. And yet I must continue to pick myself up when I fall and practice what does not come naturally or easily because that other road is one I have been down. I already know where it leads.
For an expanded upon and wonderful post on the mean voice please visit: hereirawr’s Balance Isn’t a Destination and Gray IS Gorgeous!
Important self reflection. I fight the angry inner voice. I don’t have any time to waste on it anymore.
And it really IS such a waste of time. If only the mean voice was more logical!
Thank you for sharing the constant struggle. When I finally learned to master that voice (instead of the other way around), I thought I had won–and then I had one of those days. I learned it isn’t a battle, it’s a process, a journey without destination. Thank you for sharing this struggle. *fistbump*
Repeating the words I learned in a psychology class’ Loving Kindness Meditation assignment can help me take action to redirect my anger towards myself to wishing myself well (even if I am just repeating the words without fully believing it, I figure it’s better than staying hurtful 🙂 ): “May I be happy, may I be safe, may I be healthy and may I live with ease.”
More information on Loving Kindness Meditation:
It’s a terrific meditation. However I have found meditation alone does not change the behavior, it certainly helps though.
I hear it too. All the time. ugh. I get consolation from knowing it is not as bad as it once was, that it continues to improve at a molasses rate, and I have a great partner I can talk to about all this gunk.
Well maybe when the mean voices start at each other we should type instead! That’ll mess them up…
” Someone else yelling at me to stop listening to the voices does NOT help. Someone else scolding me for having hurtful voices in my head only ADDS to my stress and the noise, it does not lessen it.” Something I just can’t seem to get ppl to understand grrr
Something I STILL have a hard time understanding when the voice is yelling at me!
I think we all have this inner voice. For some it whispers and for others it shouts. For some – particularly for autistics – there are outter voices constantly confirming the mean inner voice. I try very hard not to give much credence to the mean inner voice and am more successful on some days than others. I try not to be the mean outter voice to other human beings because I know how devasting that can be and how very difficult it can be to overcome. Unfortunately I am not as good a person as I set out to be. We all need to keep on doing our best each day, knowing that nobody can do better than their best. I am glad for forgiving friends.
I think that’s one of the most horrific aspects of it, when someone(s) confirm it, like adding fuel to the fire. To have an entire society confirming it… well, that’s beyond devastating…
Trying hard to do my part and not add to it and also forgiveness.. that’s key. For ourselves and for others. Forgiveness…
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Oh honey. When you hear this voice, just ask yourself if Elizabeth J. (Ibby) Grace would agree with it. Because I think you’ll find that I would not, and that makes the voice look pretty foolish. Imagine if the voice had to get into a conversation with me about why it was right and I was wrong, and it had to *support its claims with credible reasoning.* Yeah. I didn’t think so. You are awesome and that is FACT. Love love love. (((Ariane))) Love, your loving and annoyingly confident friend, Ib.
See, I need an internal Ibby voice to shut the mean voice up. I will try to incorporate that next time the mean voice starts yelling at me. 😀
Yes, or the internal Ibby voice can just be a face if you like, like this one: [the one I’m making now; you can picture it]. 😀
Oh Ib. That’s a good face!!
Maybe it could be a flap – one that flaps away the mean voice.
I was trying to leave above comment after Ibby’s comment, but it didn’t work and therefore doesn’t make much sense. Sorry.
It makes sense to me Judy! And also probably to Ariane 🙂 Flap 🙂
Made total sense Judy!! Love the flap! *Flap flappy flap*
All of us have that mean voice in our heads. Next time you hear that voice ask yourself, “Would I say that to my friend?”