I often write about the demanding and criticizing voices in our heads a lot because it is so amazingly prevalent and I figure just about anyone can identify with that and almost all of us need support with them. Every day these voices kick in out of habit telling us “I can’t do that right” or “what a failure I am.” More often than not we become overwhelmed by them and indulge them, and as Thich Nhat Hanh says, “water the seeds of our own suffering.”
What if we were able to see these voices as having good intentions? How could this ever be?
Many of us have past wounds in our lives whether it was parent seeming too busy to pay attention to us or losing someone early in life, or being the victim of assault. Voices start arising inside us to help us maintain some control over our environments to keep us safe from being wounded again. These voices may judge us or others so we don’t get too close and run the risk the danger of either losing them or being hurt by them. Or maybe the voices just criticize us so we don’t have to face the discomfort inside and spend all of our time taking care of other people. Although at the end of the day, these voices serve to water the seeds of our depression and anxiety, they can be viewed as trying to help.
The end result is that we can learn to be more kind and caring to ourselves instead of damning and hating.
What would change if instead of damning and hating these voices that keep us down, we learn to be a bit kinder to them, acknowledging their presence, and then choosing a different path. For example, if the voice arises “you’re not good enough, don’t even try it,” try and notice it and see it as a part of you that is simply trying to keep you safe from a past wounding experience. When the bad voice arises rather than entertaining it, thank it for trying to keep you safe and rather than cursing it, see if you can acknowledge the pain. You can tell yourself that you know this is a difficult task, but that was then and this is now and you’re going to give it a shot anyway.
Easier said than done, but in practicing and understanding that even our damning voices have the intentions of keeping us safe, we can begin to shift from watering the seeds of depression to watering the seeds of resiliency and even happiness. We can all break the habitual cycle of sending hate into ourselves and instead sending compassion and care.
See if you can notice the inner voices from past wounds in your life that keep you from getting too close to others or risking success to keep you safe from harm. When they arise, thank them for trying to keep you safe. Notice what a difference this can make than struggling with the messages.
As always, please share your thoughts and comments below, you additions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Megaphone head image is available from Shutterstock.
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Last reviewed: 16 May 2013