Increasing Mental Well-Being by Transforming Your Inner Voice
You have heard the old saying “You are what you eat.” This truth could easily be expressed with respect to another aspect of life: “You are what you hear” or, more accurately, you become what you tell yourself that you are.
Have you noticed that within your mind, you are always talking to yourself? Your mind is powerfully influenced by your own voice and believes what you tell it. If you are self-critical, you may become depressed and/or anxious and suffer with diminished self-confidence and self-worth. However, speaking to yourself kindly and with appreciation can lead to an increase in optimism, courage, resilience, and overall mental well-being.
Why Do We Speak Harshly to Ourselves?
The tendency for your inner voice to be self-critical, or condemning is typically a learned behavior. If your parents, teachers, peers, or others were critical of you or overly demanding in their expectations, you may have learned to speak to yourself the way in the way that you heard others speaking to you. Also, we are taught from an early age to sort things into a hierarchy and constantly evaluate or judge everything. This can lead to using the same evaluative/judgmental skill set against yourself.
Speak Kindly to Yourself
You are the only one who can hear what you say within your own mind. Speaking kindly to yourself means acknowledging and appreciating good things about yourself with your inner voice. You could celebrate when you completed and submitted a big project on time or take a mental victory lap each time you persevere and finish your planned workout. Anytime you acknowledge something positive about yourself or encourage yourself as you continue moving forward, you are building self-confidence, self-compassion, and inner strength.
How To Transform Your Inner-Voice
First, we must ground ourselves in reality. Affirmations can only work if they are believable. Trying to convince myself that I will be the first human being to achieve unassisted flight through constantly stating that I will do so is useless because it is not a believable statement. If you use affirmations, they must define things that are attainable.
Second, we must begin to work from a place of balanced perspective. Because of the way that we were taught to criticize and evaluate, it is typically easy to identify flaws, errors, deficiencies, and failures. It is ok to notice these things, but we need to keep them in perspective. One way to do this is to begin looking for strengths, successes, achievements (no matter how small) and give ourselves credit for each step toward our goals. This allows us to move from self-criticism toward self-acceptance and compassion.
The most important transformational step is to begin recognizing the negative ways that you may be speaking to yourself. One simple way to do this is to label every self-statement as either negative, neutral, or positive. When you notice a negative self-statement, try to restate it in such a way that does not label you (bad, stupid, loser, etc.) but recognizes your forward motion and encourages continued effort. Noticing, labeling, and sorting the statements of your inner voice into negative, neutral, and positive can provide you with a way of measuring your progress as well. If you notice that you are having fewer negative self-statements and are more naturally using a positive and encouraging inner voice, you will know that you are making progress in transforming your inner voice. In the process, you will be lowering your stress and anxiety levels, improving your physical and mental health, and increasing your satisfaction and contentment in life.
Contact Gentle Empathy Counseling for assistance (770-609-9164)
A professional counselor or therapist can help you identify and improve your inner voice. You can learn skills and strategies to positively transform the way you speak to yourself.