How To Know The Difference Between You and Your Negative Voices


Consider this – the voices in your head, the dialogue of critic and victim and fantasist and pessimist aren’t You. When you say “I beat myself up” I don’t believe you mean ‘You’ beat yourself up. The actual You is wise and kind. To me there’s a vital distinction between ME and my committee of voices which chatter away all day in my mind. Headf**k FM I call it. A never-ending radio show of dialogue and opinions and warnings and strategising with different DJ’s around the clock, and it’s been on so loud and so constantly that we have understandably come to believe ‘that’s Me’ saying all this to myself. But it’s not You.
Those voices are immature characters that we put in place long ago to mimic our bossy, stressed, ignorant parents and carers because we thought, back then, that we needed that kind of treatment to get things done and succeed in our tasks. That’s what was modelled to us and the insults and labelling we received along the way seemed to be true too, so we now uphold those ‘truths’ we were given and still, years later as adults, live as if those negative, limiting opinions about us are Truth and even keep a cast of demons in our heads to uphold those beliefs with negative self-talk, self-criticism, exasperation, and negative bubble bursting – often really mean.
This has immense consequences because we allow those attitudes to dictate what we show up for, what we dare to attempt, what we think we deserve and never question the fact that we decided to live so religiously by these incorrect perspectives when we were only 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 years old!
Your list of beliefs about what is and isn’t ok about you or what you can and can’t do in your life was made by the immature and often panicked child doing the best it could and making some very wrong (yet understandable) conclusions. And then setting them in stone for life.
To me, all the beliefs and voices trying to keep that old system in place isn’t really You. It’s the committee of special needs characters we all have in our heads trying to protect us with outdated data, like our own personal cast of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest that we have to look after. We all move through this life with a retinue of very fragile and reactive characters inside and if we don’t listen to their legitimate needs and if we keep ignoring them or suppressing them, they will eventually attempt to get their needs met by suddenly leaping into our lives in some self-sabotaging crisis. They need attention and presence and just like a child, if it wants attention and doesn’t get it for long enough, it will either smash something or hurt itself or both.
Turning towards them and their edgy feelings with curiosity and kindness instead of panic and rejection is what the Tibetan Buddhists call feeding meat to the demons.
It has been really helpful for me to clearly distinguish between Me, the lovely kind awake Jamie, from the committee of voices rabbiting away. ‘I’ don’t beat myself up. One of my voices might try it – and this distinction between Me, the kind, awake, present, rational Jamie versus the family of characters, has saved me over and over from the incredibly insidious and invisible way these voices creep in and make me think their values are ‘My’ values and their beliefs are ‘My’ beliefs. It’s helped me to catch them as they try and sneak in and grab the wheel, the mouth, or God help us, the email! I know the difference between Me and them and can therefore often/sometimes turn toward them kindly and ask them what they need. Because each one has a legitimate need behind its anxiety and if I don’t meet it there will inevitably soon be trouble at mill.
Being super-conscious of our self-talk is a life-changing step towards self-care and opens the way for us easefully giving ourselves (and each other) so much of what We need. A deeper connection with everyone in our lives, success with our projects, even daring to do them and put them out there in the first place! – and to me, it starts with me noticing my unconscious negative dialogue and pessimistic pathways before they pretend they’re Me.
17 March What About Us?         Brighton
24 March What About Us?      Bournemouth
6 April Insanely Gifted                  Totnes
7 April Transforming Shadows    Exeter
13 April  Insanely Gifted             Norwich
14 April Transforming Shadows   Cambridge
27 April Insanely Gifted           Manchester
28 April What About Us?           Chester
4 May Insanely Gifted                   London
5 May What About YOU?              London

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