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The Voice Inside Your Head

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

We all carry a voice inside our head, an internalisation of the adults and carers who brought us up. But what if that voice is doing us no good; how do we change it?

Transactional analysis believes we ingest our parent or carers messages without editing and often out of context; we do not have that ability when we are young. This way we create our internal critical/nurturing parent.

The sorts of messages can be:

1) The good (or nurturing) “Always look before you cross the road”. “Don’t push yourself too hard, you need your rest.”

2) The bad (generalisations) “Women are bad at maths.” “Strangers are not to be trusted.”

3) The downright ugly (critical) “You’re so stupid, you’ll never amount to anything.”

Each of us will have our own unique variations of these voices. They may be something an unkind teacher or unsupportive parent has said that has stuck. However, these last two are out of date, unedited and potentially harmful.

Nurturing parent messages are to be encouraged and as you develop you need to add more up to date ones of your own i.e. “When I have a busy week I need to make sure I get enough rest and support.”

The “bad” are often old prejudices or family beliefs passed down through families, unchallenged. We need to check their validity for ourselves and edit them accordingly. i.e. “Some strangers may take advantage of me; I should be cautious until I know someone.”

The ugly need to be junked. These messages are corrosive and damaging. They are not facts and for our mental well-being we need to dismiss them and concentrate on nurturing ourselves.

If you find this difficult because you have always “driven” yourself by telling yourself off, then imagine you are 6 or 7 years old or that you are talking to your best friend. You wouldn’t call a child names or castigate your best friend. Don’t think you are being selfish, either: if you are resourced and supported you can be available for others – not so if you are depleted.

Treat yourself as your best friend – champion yourself, use encouraging words or phrases and praise yourself when you do well or meet a challenge. Reward yourself for achievements or a job well done. When we reward ourselves we reinforce our nurturing parent and when we neglect ourselves and go unrewarded we feel tired, unappreciated and resentful and our critical parent can run riot!

It makes sense that if you are kind and encouraging towards yourself you will perform better and be mentally fitter. Those who do this, have better physical and mental health. So develop a better tolerance towards yourself and others and accept that humans have shortcomings. Learn to love yourself and become your own nurturing parent, particularly if you didn’t have this growing up.

It’s bad enough that you lacked nurture as a child but don’t give yourself a double dose by carrying this on into adulthood. Give yourself a break, go easy and become your own best friend – you’ll be glad you did.

Copyright: Atalanta Beaumont 2015

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