The Inner Voice

“You’re not very good at this, are you?”

Well, no. But then again, no one is very good at something they just started doing, are they? And add to that, if they think they are good, there’s a high probability that they are in fact bad at it. But that’s not what your inner voice wants to say, so instead you’re stuck hearing about how you suck at this, and look at that person over there – they’re good at this. Nevermind introducing logic to this conversation. Your inner voice doesn’t care that the other person has years of experience. You get to hear yourself compared and found wanting.

And even if you do hear outside voices saying that you’re doing well, you’re catching on, that inner voice doesn’t admit defeat and shut up. They’re just being nice. They don’t see the flaws, they are being patronizing. You should be learning faster. You can do better than this. You’re lazy, worthless, should just toss it all and walk away.

The inner voice takes a lot of time and patience to tame and turn into a useful check instead of a full-on stumbling block. Some of us need a fair amount of outside support to get a handle on it. The first, and possibly the most important step, is to be aware that your inner voice is an unreliable narrator. In story telling, the unreliable narrator can be used to good effect, to lure the reader into a tale, and only reveal much later that what seemed solid and rational was all a lie. I’m reminded of the voice in the video game Portal, telling the player they are going to die, with a petulant tone. I always want to answer back: Look, ‘bot, we’re all going to die. That’s true. But when? And where? That’s not something you get to say, except inasmuch as you are trying to cause the player’s death. The inner voice is like this, too. You’re failing, it says. So you, programmed to obedience, do as you’re told and fail. Told you so. The voice sits back in satisfaction. Now we can wallow in our misery.

So if you can’t trust the inner voice, who can you trust? This is the tricky bit. You have to trust someone, and slowly that can be used to guide yourself into the ability to trust yourself. It’s like training a puppy. Or a toddler. Don’t lie about stuff Mama just watched you do. To bring the metaphor forward, if you were just hired – out of a mess of other applicants. Perhaps hundreds, and you, just you, made the final cut – they didn’t see failure in you. They saw something the inner voice refuses to admit exists. A person that is valuable to them.

In more personal relationships the inner voice is insidious. If someone is wanting to be with you, and saying they care, your narrator is wondering what is wrong with them, that they can be so easily misled by your foolery. If you’re alone, the Inner Voice is putting their nose in the air with a sniff and pointing out that you are utterly repellant, so why even try? It requires a very strong and determined person to worm their way past that, let me tell you, and that’s the voice you ought to listen to. If they are treating you with love and caring, trust them when they tell you you’re awesome. And when that doesn’t work, listen to other friends who stand outside that inmost circle, and what are they saying?

Go for it. You can do this. You are stronger than you think you are.

I promise, you’re going to be good at this. You just need some practice. C’mon, let’s do it together.


20 responses to “The Inner Voice”

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard Avatar
    Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Get Out Of My Head! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. nope. Ooh, wouldja look at this hoard. Nice taste in reading material, Drak. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. inner voice is bugging me while I am trying to make a video. where is that freakin vent cover?

    1. *hands Draven a tea cosy* Here, try this, it may at least muffle the sound.

      1. unfortunately the vent is on the ceiling. i ordered a vent cover to slap over it while i do VO.

        1. And now I’m picturing you with a tea cosy on your head ๐Ÿ˜€

        2. More seriously, I understand now what you mean. Hm, I take it closing the vent doesn’t help. Would pinning some felt over it kill the noise enough?

          1. tried that, the vent doesn’t close completely, so it goes from low rumble to louder rush of air… sigh

        3. andddd… i shoulda made sure the vent was steel.

  3. I think you’ve been in my head, too, LOL! It is a hard voice to silence, or perhaps preferably tame. I think it’s one reason I’m trying — within physical limitations — to get better control of the clutter, because that speaks failure to me.

    1. I know I feel better if my surroundings are tidy. I mean, there’s always a certain amount of chaos, but my desk being stacked with paperwork – some of which I dearly need to deal with – drives me bats.

      1. It’s hard not to have a certain amount of chaos, especially when there are children (or a messy husband) in the house. But yes, keeping it down to a manageable level helps a LOT.

        1. I’m not that messy!

  4. Bob Toy Avatar
    Bob Toy

    Ahhh, that inner voice. Hear it every time I get ready to do any kind of a team briefing before a mission…

  5. Jeffrey Mann Avatar
    Jeffrey Mann

    I heard a life coach, Carrie Spaulding, “The Thirtysomething Coach” talk about the inner voice on Wharton Business Radio. She said that the voice is part of our primitive brain and it’s trying in its own way to protect us, but in our non-primitive world it’s often trying to protect us from things we need to do. She said that some of her clients had reduced its impact by giving the voice a name and talking back to it. I tried it (mine is Zeb, short for Beelzebub). When the IV gets in my way I say, “thank you for that Zeb, but I need to do it anyway.” I respond as I would to a precocious 5 year old. It’s helped.

  6. An honest assessment of oneself will almost always turn up something at which you are, in fact, quite good.

    1. Indeed! And sometimes you need outside help with identifying that. But until you can really believe it, you aren’t going to change your mind.

  7. EdSieventen Avatar

    Fascinating post. Best leasson I taught the inner voice to repeat: “No, THEY are not talking about you. Even if they are, there are NOT saying THAT.”

    1. Thank you. I wrote this for some friends who are struggling, because I know the battle well.