The inner voice - What is it? How we can influence it to be more loving
The inner voice is more commonly known as our internal self-talk. The part of ourselves, that is responsible for making opinions, judging what is going on around us, viewing our emotions, and seeing our thoughts and the images that come with them. Not everyone hears it as a voice, some will see it more visually and others may experience this as a feeling. The inner voice plays a large role in how we feel, as it is the narration we feel, hear or experience after we attempt or do anything. Naturally, the more negative emotions that we have pent up within us, the more negative inner voice we may experience. This does not mean it cannot be positive, the inner voice can most definitely come in a more encouraging way however this can take time to develop as we may not have flexed this muscle consistently enough. In this article, you will uncover what the inner voice is, how we use it day-to-day, the issues with it, its benefits for it and how we can flip the switch and turn the voice into a more loving and compassionate tool that is motivated by love.
What is the inner voice?
The inner voice is a dialogue that takes place within our minds. It can use images, voice and even emotions. This dialogue involves various units such as; our mind, intellect and our ego. The inner voice can be likened to a running commentary of anything and everything we experience. Along with bringing historical events, emotions and self-talk that relate in some way to the circumstance that you are experiencing in the current moment. The inner voice can take a variety of tones and they can be both positive and negative. The negative aspects of the inner voice often use tools like judgement, anger, pride, guilt, grief, shame, grief and fear. These emotions can govern the way we speak to ourselves and others. There are also positive aspects the inner voice can tap into, this may include; courage, willingness, acceptance, forgiveness, acceptance, love, peace and joy. Again, the positive aspects use these emotions to dictate the tone, images and types of thoughts that you can experience. More often in life, we can become unaware of our influence on our inner dialogue and thus the process of self-talk can shift into auto-pilot. When this happens, we can experience an inner voice that has been influenced by how our parents have spoken to us, our friends, what we watch and generally other societal aspects that we have consumed. Taking an active role can allow you to dictate your self-talk. No one wants to constantly be driven by things like fear and guilt, right? Taking an active role, in your inner dialogue, can allow you to bring in more positive, supportive and encouraging self-talk as opposed to a self-loathing inner voice that makes us feel worse.
How we use the inner voice day-to-day
Our inner voice is not something we cannot just turn off. We use our inner voice daily, as mentioned above it is similar to a commentary on ourselves and everything we experience. Most prominently, we will experience it in a doing fashion. An inner monologue, tells us what we should be doing next followed by opinions on whether we are doing it right or wrong. Some people use it to get themselves going, whether that means motivating themselves or reminders of what needs to be done next or in the day as a whole. The inner voice can also be used for active reflection on the events of our lives and whether they went according to our expectations or if we were left feeling disappointed. Often we feel the inner voice come in a form of narration as if we have an inner narrator. This can be troublesome as we can end up experiencing life through this narrator rather than life itself. The inner voice has access to our emotions, and therefore any emotions we have not processed will be narrated after the feeling is felt. No doubt our emotions sit on a deeper level, but our inner voice can make us feel like it is the one invoking the emotions which is not the case. Additionally, the inner voice may place incorrect narration on some of our emotions leading us to think we feel a certain way for the wrong reason. On a whole, the inner voice may itself feel pressured to “whip” the body and mind into gear, whether that be to get up, get on with the day, socialise, work towards goals, exercise and so on. The tool is an extremely useful one, but when it is conditioned with negativity we can often feel worse and perhaps even unloved.
The negative aspects of the inner voice
The ego is a component within ourselves that helps us process our information around, and gives us the context of where we are and who we are. It is not an evil construct, however, when it is driven by the sensory pleasure it can feel undesirable. It is probably easier to see it as a unit connected with our animalistic tendencies therefore, like an animal it craves survival, intimacy, food and shelter. More specifically, the ego uses the mind to guide the human in fulfilling sensual pleasures and can actively try to avoid things that cause the feeling of pain. With the ego being connected to the mind and the mind is connected to the senses, the ego is drawn to sensual pleasures such as; eating, sex, drugs and alcohol or watching TV. These pleasures allow one to escape whilst numbing the senses and allow the senses to feel pleasure. When we are on auto-pilot, our body ends up being led unconsciously to these sensual desires with our ego taking the inner voice as its own and guiding us to “easy pleasures” that may provide pleasure short-term but not align with who and what we want to be. Long-term pleasures such as; success and status can also be used to govern our ego drive, with the associated pleasure the long-term drive. When we are not taking an active role in our inner voice these are some of the things that drive us, and it can lead us to be conflicted. For example, if you want to spend some time by yourself but you have a desire to not be alone; you are essentially in conflict with yourself and may not be able to do what you need. This comes down to the fact that what we need is not equal to what we want. When we are not influencing our inner voice with our moral compass, our ego can put its narrative on why we need our pleasures even if it does not make sense. This can feel more negative when fear and guilt become our driving source. Although this can help people get what they want, long-term our bodies and mind feel particularly worse about ourselves.
How we can use our inner voice to aid us
The inner voice when used more compassionately and lovingly, can have great consequences. Naturally, if something can be led by fear and guilt it can also be led by love and care. When we begin to apply compassion, love, and true peace to our lives, we can begin to influence our inner talk with the same values. This means we may have been conditioning ourselves to use angry self-talk that uses fear as a motivator. When we become more active with our inner voice we can choose to bring more love, encouragement and forgiveness into our self-talk. Thus, we can start following up on our negative self-talk with more positive dialogue. This will lead to us feeling better, and better yet, we will be less focused on outcomes to determine how we feel. We are also likely to motivate ourselves to try our best whilst being able to accept the feelings that follow. In time our self-talk can shift dramatically and we can find ourselves feeling more self-love and thus being about to spread love more easily to others. Next time you notice people being mean to others, the question to ponder is; “Is this how they talk to themselves?”. This will all but kill any anger you feel for that individual, as you know that this is how they speak to themselves and so why would they talk to anyone else that differently? This doesn’t take away any rudeness of the individual, but you will naturally be more understanding and be able to empathise with the individual. How do we start changing our inner dialogue?
Changing your internal dialogue
To begin changing our inner dialogue, we start with observing or witnessing the conversations that take place within our minds. We must start by noticing how we speak to ourselves. When we do something right, wrong, attempt something etc… Once we can witness this long enough, write your observations down. This way we can see how our inner dialogue currently is. There may be a range of inner voices you become aware of and they can be driven by a range of things I.e. one voice could be governed by perfection and getting everything right, another could be governed by constantly being a good person, and another could be governed by getting what they want. No voice is better than another, no matter the results they can get. This is because they all use guilt to stay trapped in that way of thinking. Therefore, for this exercise it is key that you do not judge yourself when you become aware of how you speak to yourself, it may have been that way for years and the fact you are trying to be proactive about it now is all that matters. Next, you begin to come up with phrases based on values such as; forgiveness, love and compassion. We will call these internal dialogue affirmations. When you find yourself using negative self-talk to talk to yourself, try not to invoke anger at this talk as this just reinforces the negative self-talk. Use the affirmations to counter-act when you hear negative self-talk, and continue to do this for a long period (6 months). Eventually, your inner dialogue will shift, and the affirmations you have been using will replace the negative self-talk. The journey to changing your inner dialogue is challenging but rewarding. Being led by love always yields the best version of yourself.
Our inner dialogue is something that cannot be seen, however, it is influential in how we behave, act and think. When we were younger, we are all driven by different things and there is nothing wrong with that. How we decide to go about getting those things we desire is important. If we have used fear and guilt as weapons to achieve our desires we are likely to be miserable. As we have understood, our inner voice is like a running commentary, for us to trigger fear and guilt constantly is likely to result in us being timid and not being able to truly express ourselves. We use this voice day-to-day, and therefore it is obvious that it plays a large role in how we feel, think and act. This voice is an extremely useful tool, and therefore it is paramount we spend time and effort influencing this voice with values that are true to our hearts. Emotions like compassion, forgiveness and support are a good place to start, building phrases and affirmations from there can be used to counter-act our negative self-talk thus turning our feeling towards ourselves around. We are stronger when we are led by love!
Have you ever found your inner dialogue unbearable?
Did you do anything about it? Have you struggled to make the breakthrough to be more positive?
Click here to find out more about Self Love Clinic’s coaching and counselling sessions, for more ways you can be supported on a journey of self-love!