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What Voices Do You Listen To?

What Voices Do You Listen To?

Melissa R. Rich, Ph.D.

You may be relieved to know that you’re not the only one who hears voices in their head. It’s pretty common and most of us do it. These voices give us messages that are called self-talk and they play a huge role in determining who we are, how we feel, and what we do.

Self-talk tends to be either positive and supportive, or negative and defeating. Sometimes it can be tricky to figure out what the voices are saying because they’ve been running in our head so long that they’ve become part of our identity. The messages and our responses to them are totally automatic and we may not even be aware of them at all.

A positive messages might be something like this:

  • I’m going to do a great job with my presentation today! I’m well prepared, I know my subject and I have a lot to contribute. People will enjoy listening to me.

A negative one might sound like this:

  • I know I’m going to bomb this presentation. I’m just not comfortable in front of a group and I forget everything I know. My mind draws a big blank and I know everyone will be laughing at me. I’ll probably lose my job!

Can you see how these might influence how we feel and then perform? Research shows that we start to believe things we hear often – especially if we hear them from ourselves! Learning to change our self-talk can take some time and effort but it’s totally worth it. Here’s how.

  • Take a few days to identify the messages you’re giving yourself – write them down.

  • Go over the messages and ask yourself if they’re logical and accurate.

  • Start replacing the negative self-talk with positive messages.

  • Repeat the positive self-talk to yourself on a daily basis.

Let me give a couple of examples:

Negative – I’m so fat! I’ll never lose weight and no one will ever want to be with me!

Positive – I need to lose 10-15 pounds but I’m not obese. I’ll join a gym and start working out at some classes. I’ll feel better and maybe I’ll meet someone there!

Negative – I’d like to finish my degree but I’m 45. I’m too old to go back to school!

Positive – Finishing my degree is important to me. If I take 1-2 classes a semester I should finish in less than 2 years. That’s totally doable – and worth it!

You see how it works. The important thing is to get rid of negative messages and replace them with positive, empowering ones. As I said earlier, we tend to believe what we tell ourselves. So make sure your self-talk is powerful, positive and pumped up – it’ll make a huge difference!

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