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!