When was the last time you sat with yourself? I mean really sat down with just your thoughts, with no distractions, no phone, just you.
For many of us that can be a daunting thought just on its own.
We live in an age of distraction with little time given to just sitting in stillness and facing the thoughts and feelings that live inside of us. In times where stress and anxiety levels are shooting through the roof, I believe it’s time we stepped closer to understanding that voice in our heads instead of numbing out the soundtrack.
That voice in your head
The inner critic, the voice of doom, the ‘what if’ soundtrack, the thoughts of not being good enough, or the constant wondering of what you’re meant to be doing with your life. It plays and reloads, and then plays again….
That voice, those thoughts, are in fact ‘parts’ of you coming to the surface and making themselves known.
Every one of us is divided into ‘parts’, and whilst some of those parts are helpful, positive and supportive, there are other parts which are self-critical and even self-destructive. Take for example the part of you that believes it’s not good enough and likes to tell you that ‘you fail at everything’. Ouch.
Our critical inner voice is formed out of our early childhood experiences.
As little people we witness and experience life without an adult knowledge of what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad’. From a very young age we unconsciously start to create our own unique map of the world based on these experiences. Without going into too much detail in this post, this is how our beliefs, and in turn our thoughts are formed. If you were constantly told as a child that you weren’t good enough or that you were ‘bad’, then say hello to that part of you which is likely very much alive today.
Got an uncomfortable thought?
Instead of sitting with these thoughts and shining what I call the 'light of awareness' on them, we like to numb them out. Why? Because it just feels easier to push them back below the surface and muffle out the soundtrack.
For some of us this involves numbing out with food, for others this may mean a few glasses of wine each night to ‘get you out of your head’. Illegal drugs on the weekends, overexercising to the point of exhaustion, working 80 hours a week as a means to escape… You get the picture. And I’m curious to know if you have your own ‘numbing out’ technique?
The problem is of course that this strategy can only work for so long.
At some point if we don’t stop and look at what is happening underneath the surface, our inner voice can seriously impact our lives. From preventing us from going for that promotion due to a lack of confidence, or finding yourself in a destructive relationship because you don’t think you deserve better. Or perhaps a health issue created by too much sugar in an effort to silence the thoughts of ‘there’s something wrong with me’.
The first step is awareness
If you’ve attended any of my workshops then you’ve likely heard me talk about awareness being the very first step. Everything I believe starts from this place. And in this scenario we need to bring awareness to two things:
- Awareness that you’re numbing out your life
- Awareness of what you’re trying to numb out
A thought or uncomfortable feeling comes up, what do you do? Do you sit with it or do you reach for your numbing agent of choice? Do you push it away and get on with something else or do you make space for it, examine it, and bring a sense of curiosity to it?
The second step is to get curious
Curiosity is a wonderful thing.
Having curiosity allows us to see a different perspective, it brings an openness to seeing something more. It creates a precious pause between a thought and our reaction to it. Instead of changing the channel in our minds, we stop and understand the current channel playing.
The third step is to get real
The voices in our head largely go unchecked, they are often the silent truths that we live by. But they don’t need to be. After awareness and curiosity comes injecting a large dose of reality. This is when a journal or notebook comes in especially handy. Writing out our internal craziness (because let’s face it, that voice is a little distorted yes?) helps to get back a sense of control and helps us to unhook from it all.
Numbing out your life with being a ‘workaholic’? What are you trying to numb out? What thoughts or feelings are you trying to avoid? Write them down. Awareness brings understanding, and through understanding you can decide how and what you want to change.
By calling out your inner voice and being aware of it (rather than numbing it) you get to challenge some of those self-destructive and critical thoughts, and start to see life through a more realistic adult lens.