Have you had a conversation with yourself recently — an inner dialogue? One whereby two different voices where speaking inside of you—probably expressing very different views? I’m sure you have, and, no it doesn’t mean that you’re mad! We all have voices inside our heads, it’s totally normal to have an inner dialogue, which is expressed by different parts of our psyche. When though one or more of our voices dominates our inner dialogues, they can hinder self development, so today Tips will delve into this subject to help you understand and master your own inner dialogue.
What is the purpose of our inner voices?
Your psyche (that is your conscious and subconscious mind) has many different selves, each with a distinct voice—but the self we choose to project to the world has the strongest say in voicing thoughts and feelings. Some of our selves are mature and well-rounded whilst others remain like little children within us. Each of the different selves has a role to play in our psyche—each in their different way essential for our survival.
We are happy to identify with the self and voice that plays the biggest role in our lives. For example someone with a self-assured, confident psyche might easily step into a leadership role but then feel very uncomfortable at expressing or even acknowledging their vulnerable side. Whilst another whose natural nature is to care for others may find it incredibly hard to receive care from someone else.
Listening to your inner dialogue
You are unique and so it’s impossible to identify you with a simple list of voices to describe all of your different selves. However, our inner voices have known archetypes and whilst the following list is not complete, I am sure you will identify with some of the voices. Likewise there will be those you naturally shy away from due to fear, shame or embarrassment. Read through the list and circle those which resonate as being your strong voice. Now look read it again and this time identify the voices you feel uncomfortable accepting as part of you. I have arranged the different voices in pairs which frequently are the flip-side of each other.
|Rational Mind||Intuitive Guide|
|Responsible Adult||Free Spirit|
|Vulnerable Child||Playful Child|
|Self Acceptance||Critical Self|
The important thing to realise is that your psyche is composed of ALL of these voices (and more) and they ALL have a role to play. To heal and find inner peace is to see all sides of who you are and then consciously choose to heal the wounded and disowned voices. Let me give you a couple of examples of voices not usually owned by people doing this exercise. The Vulnerable Child voice usually comes up in moments when we need reassurance. This voice is not critical, rational, or driving. As the name suggests our barriers are down and yet this is exactly what is needed to let someone into our intimate circle so we can connect to others in times of distress. Our fear is that if we let our barriers down, then we will be hurt again and we will never be strong. Paradoxically it is often being vulnerable and allowing others to care for us that helps us regain our strength. When we consciously suppress this voice then to the outside world we may look strong, but inside our unexpressed vulnerability can lead to isolation and loneliness.
The Critical voice often expresses discontent about the actions and behaviours of others, but this voice also acts as a motivator to the self to strive to do better and to have high standards both in yourself and for others.
Light and shadow
“We live in an archetypal universe that functions on countless polarities, such as male and female, day and night, left and right brain, right and wrong, good and evil. The root of all fear is precisely this polarity” a quote by Caroline Myss in her book Defy Gravity: Healing Beyond the Bounds of Reason.
I like Caroline’s summing up which can also be applied to different selves that make up the whole of who we are. I also love the symbolic representation of this with the Yin and Yang symbol. Our inner dialogue is spoken at different times by different voices. You now know with which ones ‘speak’ the most often and those from which you hide. To become more at peace with who you are, you need to see and access all the different parts of your psyche, as well as seeing it in others too.
Last week, a coaching session with Michelle was a good example of conflicting voices. With her kind permission, I will share part of her session with you as I’m sure it will resonate with many of you.
Michelle felt ruffled and out of sorts because of what was going on at work with a colleague. She thought it was unfair: ‘There are 2 rules’ she said, ‘one for me and another for him.’ Michelle works hard and often puts in long hours. She cares passionately about her work and strives to be the best she can be, whilst her colleague’s standard of work is not particularly high. ‘He gets away with it’ she said. Her colleague always arrives punctually at 9:30 in the morning and leaves on the dot of 5:30 pm. He had recently stopped talking to her and was currently ‘blanking’ her too. This is where we began.
I asked Michelle if his poor standards impinged on her work? No. Did he hold her up in some way? No. Did he do the same work as she did? At this point there was a pause as Michelle thought this through. On reflection no, he was not getting the interesting juicy bits of work, nor was he being included in team work. Michelle shared with me that she had expressed her concerns about his work to her boss who confirmed she was aware of the situation. And yet Michelle still felt the situation was unfair.
I am sure you can see that the mindset in this situation was being lead by the Critical voice—and possibly influenced by the Rule Maker too.
Michelle knew that her feelings weren’t logical, but they were real none-the-less. So, we took a different tack. I explained the ideas behind the shadow self and explained how the people who push our buttons are often our greatest teacher because they are doing or have something that we are disowning. I then asked Michelle what her colleague was teaching her? What did she admire about him? This was shocking to Michelle as she certainly didn’t see her colleague in this light!
However, the surprising answer for Michelle was she realized she admired his time management. She was beginning to see that it wasn’t really anything to do with different treatment at work, but rather that her colleague didn’t start the day early nor leave late. Because Michelle did both, she felt it was unfair to her own personal life. Without now laying blame and criticism at her colleague’s door she is now free to decide what she wants to do with her own time keeping at work and to possibly claim back some of her own time.
As a little aside, we worked out that by working 1 hour more each day than she was paid for, she was giving her company more than 6 days a year of her time for free!
Mastering your inner dialogue
When next you have a voice inside of you clamouring to be heard, return to the list and see if you can identify which voice is turned up loud. Now ask this voice questions about why it is so loud. For example if your Pleaser voice is fixated with thinking up ways to please someone, flip the coin and ask what would it be like if you used some straight talking? Ask also why this voice feels such a big need to please someone else? Is it because something inside of you is not good enough?
If your Rational voice is prominent, ask it what it fears about listening to your Intuitive Guide. Often this fear is related to getting it wrong or being humiliated. And yet often our joyful opportunities in life are frequently guided by our intuition. Joy doesn’t usually come bound-up in logical rationale!
I hope this article will trigger thoughts about who you are at a deeper level. Remember to be kind to yourself and remember you are a multifaceted, multidimensional human being. Exploring this deeper side of who you are takes time, patience and love.
I’ll leave you with Mike Dooley’s affirmation from his Notes from the Universe: ‘Thoughts become things… choose the good ones’. My take on this to consider the voice speaking your thoughts too!