It isn’t any surprise that we all have voices rumbling around in our head. That doesn’t necessarily make us crazy, it is simply part of being a human. We commonly refer to these voices as our intuition, conscience, ego, guardian angel, devil inside and/or gut-instinct . Some of us listen to these voices, others tend to ignore them.
The more fearful of these voices likely evolved to help keep us safe from the many dangers that lurked in our primitive world. They told us not to leap from a high tree branch or to steer clear of a saber-toothed tiger. The nicer voices maybe evolved to help us develop teamwork and community. But now, with the relative safety and comfort of our modern lives, these voices have taken on different roles.
Each day, all day, we all have a dialogue going on in our brain - some of us just don’t realize it. We assess how we look, feel, what we’re excited about and what we’re dreading. We have inner conversations about what we think about other people and what other people might think about us. We all tell ourselves all kinds of stories - repeatedly. Often these stories begin to shape who and what we are. All too often, these stories are silly, negative and simply destructive.
These inner voices are usually really chatty. They always have something to say. The only time in our waking lives that they tend to shut-up is when we are completely immersed in something else.
Have you ever stopped and really focused on what these voices are telling you? I have. Let me tell you, frequently, the story isn’t a very nice one. My inner voices will judge everything and anything - if I let them. And they can be pretty brutal. They will tell me how I look, if I talk too much, what I’m not good at, how others are better than me and about a million and one other ways that I generally suck. They are especially good at pointing out my biggest insecurities. They’re sorta like those nasty comments on YouTube.
Notice that I do say voices - not voice, however. Not all of the voices are cruel. The sad thing is we often don’t listen to the kinder, gentler voices in our midst.
These are the voices that encourage you to take care of yourself, do something that is new, helpful or generous. They promote love, charity and acts of courage.
I have names for my voices. These names help me to recognize which voices are helpful and which ones are designed to keep me “safe” (ie. scared and fearful). My kind voice I like to call Glinda (after the good witch in the Wizard of Oz). My scaredy-cat, not so nice voice, I call Ben the Bully. I’m sure there are others floating around in my head, but these are the two that I hear the most.
Glinda is the one that talked me into starting a business of my own. She helps me to take on new challenges and encourages me to continue to expand, grow and develop as a person. She sees the good in me and wants me to see it too. She encourages me to take those frightening leaps of faith! Ben, on the other hand, tries to take the fun out of everything. He wants me to be scared and worried constantly. He would be happiest if I sat in a room all day and did nothing out of the ordinary. To be fair, Ben does serve a purpose. He’s the one that keeps me from being reckless and irresponsible. Like most people, I have let Ben’s voice control too much of my life and as a consequence, I’ve tuned out many of the great things Glinda has tried to tell me.
We all need to learn how to filter out the constant noise from the not so nice voices and begin to learn how to listen more closely to the kinder voices.
Being familiar with the different voices in your head is important. Once you have this awareness, you can start to discern what kind of stories these voices are telling you. You can ask yourself, “is this voice actually helpful or is it hurtful?” You will start to see which voices try to prevent you from doing all of the fantastic things you are totally capable of and which voices encourage you to be the best version of you possible. Recognize the difference. Learn how to tell your Ben the bully to “shut it” sometimes. Promote your Glinda and see how far it can (and will) take you towards a better life.
Like everything in life, there is a delicate balance that needs to be maintained. The problem is that these voices are NOT in balance for the vast majority of us.
There are many activities and exercises that you can do to help develop your inner voices. Believe me, it is a skill. Some people like affirmations, others do mirror work. Meditation, physical exercise and deep breathing are great examples of ways to help you to hone this skill. The first step however, is recognizing that these voices exist in the first place.
Personally, I have learned that when I’m tired, eating poorly or my hormones are out of whack, Ben the bully tends to get louder. When I’m taking good care of myself, Ben does shut-up (a Little bit) and Glinda has more to say.
People that suffer from anxiety and depression definitely have too much bully dialogue and not enough kind dialogue in their heads.
Eating whole foods, avoiding sugar and stimulants and ensuring that you aren’t deficient in key nutrients are all important ways to help find you balance with these voices. Activities such as; exercise, time in nature and acts of kindness also help encourage your friendlier inner voices.
That said, please know that I am not a mental heath expert and this topic is not a joke. It should not be underestimated. For some, it is constant and devastating problem. If you struggle with this, please know that help is out there. Sometimes we need professional intervention and that is perfectly okay. Find a qualified mental health professional that you trust, if you feel like your issue is serious and negatively impacting your quality of life or the lives of those around you. There are countless resources available depending on where you live.
Luckily, for most of us, learning about this concept and creating a nutrition and lifestyle plan that supports physical, emotional and mental well-being is a great way to develop a healthy and productive relationship with these voices.
If you would like some help exploring which nutrition and lifestyle tools you can use to promote a healthy dialogue with these voices, click here to explore my customized 1-on-1 packages.