Tag: #whatagreatlife

  • You Know That Critical Little Voice in Your Head?

    Here is another Guest Post, by Joy Henderson, a Licensed Professional Counselor, practicing in Champaign, Illinois

    @joyousperspective www.lifewithasides.joyousperspective.com

    Joy and I are childhood friends. We grew up together in the small town of Visalia, CA and have remained close friends all of our lives. I am honored to feature Joy here on The Minimalist Boomer again.

    Do you ever find yourself trapped in a cycle of negative self-talk, spiraling from a bad day to feeling like you have a bad life? It’s a common struggle many people face, but it’s essential to remember that it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.

    “If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, then why say it to yourself?” – Joy Henderson, @joyousperspective

    You talk to yourself in ways you would never stand for from another person.

    There’s a funny thing going on in your head. You talk to yourself in ways you would never stand for from another person. The problem is that you don’t seem to realize that you are the one doing the talking. Instead, that critical voice you “hear” inside your head often sounds like the voice of ultimate authority.

    Worst of all, it has opinions about your self-worth that are based on ever-escalating expectations. Its fulfillment is a moving target that you always need to meet. If you meet its demands, it raises your quota. And some days, it feels like it’s worse than ever, this computer voice in your head.

    You see a life filled with anxiety, depression, and terrible feelings about your identity. This voice is programmed by software put there long ago. It is an amalgam of rules, judgments, and knee-jerk reactions that you adopted. It is all the things perhaps some authority figure told you would make you a better person or the ideal version of their perfect vision for you. 

    And some days, this voice is louder than ever…

    And its only goal is to steer you away from trusting yourself.

    Making a bad day into a bad life.

    Don't let that negative little voice steer you in the wrong direction.

    You don’t recognize this voice as the source of your bad feelings. Instead, you think that following this voice might make you scale the heights that face you. You assume the intentions of the voice only have your best interests in mind.

    If you don’t mind me asking, why else would it keep weighing in on everything you think and do? It’s just trying to perfect this bad life you’ve made for yourself. The crazy thing is that if you knew real people who sounded like this voice, you would get away from them as quickly as possible. You might put up with their bullying if you had to, but in the privacy of your own mind, you might be thinking, What a jerk! 

    However, when this voice comes from inside your head, you somehow have no perspective on it. You accept whatever it says as ultimate wisdom. Even if it tells you to stand up for yourself one minute, then rebukes you for being too aggressive the next, you don’t see the contradiction. 

    And some days, this voice is louder than ever…

    And its only goal is to steer you away from trusting yourself.

    Making a bad day into a bad life.

    You must trust and believe in yourself.

    This is not the voice of conscience; it is the voice of criticism. The self-critical voice has yet to integrate a comprehensive philosophy. It’s just a bunch of reactive judgments made up on the spot. It is not trying to guide you; it is attempting to make you feel incompetent and minor. To make you shut down in fear and go away quietly. The goal is to steer you away from trusting yourself. To turn a bad day into something bigger.

    As the voice pushes contradictory goals that conflict with one another, you end up with a mind full of confusion and uncertainty. Those dreams and goals you hold dear suddenly seem far out of reach.

    “It is during those times when your beliefs are tested that you truly understand their value.” – Joy Henderson, @joyousperspective

    The next time the voice speaks, notice what its values are. For instance, if it keeps berating you for making an error, it espouses the value that people should be mercilessly punished for being fallible. Now, ask yourself if that is in line with your values. Would you treat another person that way? Is it one of your cherished values that we should react to minor mistakes with insulting disrespect and sweeping attacks on a person’s character? Is it your conscious value that only good people are perfect?

    The best way to get free is to externalize the critical voice. Let’s push those voices back outside where you can take a good look at them. You will benefit from picking apart these swallowed-whole beliefs. Thank goodness there is a sensitive observer inside you who can tell the difference between being helped and being hammered. 

    When that voice creeps in, give it the boot.

    Remember, a bad day does not define a bad life. It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity of a tough day, but it’s crucial to keep things in perspective. Your self-talk can either lift you up or bring you down, so choose your words wisely. Practice self-compassion and kindness toward yourself. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a friend going through a rough patch. And when that critical voice tries to creep back in and take control of your mind…kick it to the curb!