How do you talk to yourself? What does your inner voice sound like?
I may have mentioned once or twice in the past that I’m a worrier. That’s wOrrier (as opposed to wArrior!) It’s a form of anxiety. And it creates a stress response.
So, I worry about the level of worrying I do, too. I’m getting better at managing this, but I remain a work in progress.
Perhaps you can relate? Maybe you’re a wOrrier, too?
But here’s the thing, my nearest and dearest only know about my level of worrying because I have told them about it. So, not only am I a master worrier, but I’m really good at presenting a calm, in-control front to the world.
Guess the cat’s out of the bag now!
Addressing my level of worrying is an ongoing personal project. Continuing to work on turning the volume down on it, if you like.
And, I’m doing this by working on my inner voice. You know the one I mean – we all have one. That voice in my head that talks to me.
My inner voice is critical. It used to be SUPER critical. Now, just moderately so. And I’m more practised at changing the channel.
But it was only when I started on my personal health caper that I came to realise just how critical that inner voice of mine was. And, once I started noticing, I gave myself quite the fright. I would never dream of talking to another human being in the tone with which I used to talk to myself.
My partner, David, doesn’t have an inner voice that talks to him the way mine does. His inner voice is not judgmental. His is accepting. And, if you know him, then this will surprise you not one jot.
I want my voice to be a little more like David’s…
In fact, he calls me out when he catches me listening to my critical inner voice. Apparently my body language gives me away. Apparently I have a particular expression on my face.
And, it is remarkably effective when he does. I just need to improve the way I do this for myself…
Am I Abnormal?
Does this overly critical inner voice of mine mean that I’m abnormal? Apparently not.
So, if you do relate, you can heave a sigh of relief, too!
And, there is a direct link between anxiety and autoimmune conditions. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- Despite their flares and remissions, the great majority of autoimmune diseases are chronic illnesses. If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, you’ll know just how much this can wear you down over time.
- Another important factor is the huge uncertainty that can surround diagnosis. My autoimmune issues remained undiagnosed for over twenty years, despite seeing a number of medical specialists. Shame and uncertainty can be a key driver of anxiety in anybody, but for autoimmune sufferers, this lack of definitive diagnosis and treatment can become that much more daunting and overwhelming.
- How we choose to live – our diet and lifestyle choices, can directly affect our mental health. I’ve written before about both MTHFR and Pyrrole Disorder, which I’m confident also have an impact on my particular flavour of critical inner voice. But, I know for sure that I am noticeably less anxious since commencing my AIP way of life and implementing better lifestyle habits.
But it still needs work.
And, even if you don’t currently suffer from an autoimmune disease, did you know that recently, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. (i)
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults aged 18 and older, or 18% of the total population.(ii) That’s pretty mind-blowing, I think.
A little closer to (my) home, according to medical partitioner and psychotherapist, Dr Russ Harris,
“Western psychology is founded on the assumption of healthy normality: that by their nature, humans are psychologically healthy, and given a healthy environment, lifestyle, and social context (with opportunities for ‘self-actualisation’), humans will naturally be happy and content. From this perspective, psychological suffering is seen as abnormal; a disease or syndrome driven by unusual pathological processes.”
He asks us to consider the fact that statistics show that in any given year almost 30% of the adult population will suffer from a recognised psychiatric disorder (iii) In any week, one-tenth of the adult population is suffering from clinical depression, and one in five people will suffer from it at some point in their lifetime (iv).
And then, there are many forms of psychological suffering that don’t constitute actual ‘clinical disorders’…
Nope. Having a critical inner voice is definitely not abnormal.
But, how do I change my inner voice?
One word. MINDFULNESS.
The idea of mindfulness almost seems to be overused. We know we need to be mindful. But it can feel as though you can’t turn around without hearing about ‘mindfulness’. It’s certainly a buzz word in the media.
Despite Eastern philosophies having embraced the power of ‘mindfulness’ for centuries, it is only more recently that it has become a hot topic in Western psychology, too. It is now being recognised as an effective way to reduce anxiety and stress, raise self-awareness, and undermine destructive emotive, cognitive, and behavioural processes that come from those pesky critical inner voices.
But what exactly is mindfulness?
1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Many people think mindfulness means meditation, but this is not the case. Mindfulness is a mental state of openness, awareness and focus. We can achieve this state in many ways – meditation is just one way.
I’ve been exploring different ways that I can achieve this seemingly wonder state that is mindfulness. Creative visualisation, my morning ritual, setting a daily intention – these are all techniques that work to help me. I’m still a work in progress!
How does your inner voice talk to you?
I’d really love you to listen out for your inner voice today.
Check-in with how you talk to yourself. Do you talk to yourself with love and respect? Or, are you hyper-critical about mistakes and errors in judgement? Do you need to teach your inner voice some manners?
Oh, and if you feel comfortable, please let me know how your inner voice talks to you in the comments section? I’d love to know.