Have you ever felt stuck living the same life on repeat? Have you ever wanted to change but felt it was impossible? Have you ever had a dream only to hear a voice tell you that you’ll never make it? Have you ever told yourself that you are not beautiful enough, smart enough or good enough? Have you ever been depressed? If you have faced any of these challenges, you know how hard it is to overcome them. In this article I’ll tell you why you struggle so much and how you can begin to change that and take control of your life!
First of all, let me ask you this: why do you think that you fail to change what you do? Why is it so hard to go after what you truly want? Why do you feel bad about yourself? Why? I think that you have already come up with a few answers by now. You may say: “It’s because of my country/government/my disease/my family/my city/my problem…” The list can go on and on. You can find thousands of reasons why you cannot make it. The problem is that as you came up with all these answers, you missed the real reason. But I expected that to happen. That’s exactly what happened to me. So hear me out because you are probably experiencing the same struggle as I am. And if that’s the case, I can help you overcome it!
Take a second and think about this: what happened you were trying to find the answers to my question? What happened when you made the list of all the reasons why you cannot achieve what you want? Have you realized that there was a voice inside your head naming those reasons? I know, you think that you came up with those answers. But the truth is, it wasn’t you. You simply repeated the reasons provided by that voice you hear in your head. It’s the same voice you hear reading this text right now. It’s the voice that tells you that you need to eat when you’re hungry. It reminds you to lock your door when you leave the house.
But this voice does more than prompt you to do daily repetitive actions and give you answers to some questions. This voice tells you the story of your life. If this were a fairy tale, your voice would be the narrator. The problem is, in this case, our narrators seem to be all-powerful gods that impose their will on you and me every single day. Do you like that? I knew you would say no. So let’s talk about this voice. We have to understand why it is so powerful and what we can do to break it spell.
This voice is constant
You may not realize it, but this voice is always speaking. Whenever you are awake, that voice is there to guide you. However, you may notice it only sometimes during a normal day. For example, if you are having a fight with your brother, this voice will say “Wow, he is such an idiot!”. Or if you are enjoying a delicious chocolate cake, the voice will go “This is amazing! I have to come back to this restaurant again!”.
However, this voice is “speaking” even when you cannot hear it. And this happens because it works like an automatic program running in the background. Its activity is mainly carried out by your subconscious mind, making it undetectable most of the time.
You will hear it in a few moments of awareness. To better understand it, imagine that it works like your heart. It is always working to pump blood, send oxygen and nutrients to your entire body. However, you only hear your heart beating on a few occasion – after you’ve been running, when you are scared or when you are listening to it on purpose. However, it keeps on working day in and day out even without your knowledge or consent.
And I would argue that whatever is happening in or to your body 24/7 is something worth understanding. This is true especially when it comes to something so powerful as your inner voice.
Your inner voice controls (almost) everything about you
Here’s why this voice is so important: it affects and controls everything you do, feel and think. This voice represents your self-image. It tells you who you are, how you behave, what you think is true, what you like or dislike, what mood you experience and how you live your life. And now you realize the extent of its power. It’s like an invisible, sometimes silent, all-knowing and all-powerful God. And it is directing your life without even knowing it. Well, if you did not know this before, now you do.
Here’s how this works. When you were born, you were a blank canvas. You had no idea who, what or how you were. But as you were growing up, people started telling you who you are and what to do. You collected that information and stored it safely in your subconscious mind. Then you started gathering information about what other people were doing. You watched how you parents, brothers, sisters and other relative behaved. And you started modeling them – you started to do what they did, say what they used to say and act in a similar manner. And these behaviours were also added to your subconscious mind.
Therefore, you evolved as a collage of your family’s actions, words, feelings, beliefs and habits. All these pieces of information combined forming your self-image. Your self-image represents what you think about yourself, how you see yourself. Your inner voice is the expression of that self-image.
If you tend to reject what I have just mentioned because you think you are unique, please think about it! You may say to yourself “I’m nothing like my family!”. And if you disliked something your parents did you probably swore to yourself that you would be different. But be honest with yourself. Take a look at what your parents believe and do on a regular basis and compare that with what you do and think. You will be shocked to see how many things you have in common – especially the things you wish you never did.
Let me tell you something about my experience. One of the things that hurt me the most as a child was my mother’s criticism. Even though my parents were fairly good people, my mother was a bit critical at times. When she was mad at me because of something I did or something I did not do, she would express her dissatisfaction. She would tell me I was too spoiled, not hard-working enough or not helpful enough. As a result, I grew up struggling with self-acceptance, perfectionism and self-doubt.
However, I knew that her criticism had a devastating effect on me so I decided that, if I were to have kids, I would never do that to them. And I believe that I spent most of my life succeeding at not being very critical. I would even say that I tried to encourage people. So you can imagine my surprise when my boyfriend told me: “You criticize me all the time!”. And then it dawned on me that I am my mother’s daughter after all.
On a conscious level, I’ve always known that criticism can do more harm than good to anyone. And I believed we should encourage and support one another. However, I grew up seeing my mother criticize me and other members of our family. And it comes as no surprise that my subconscious mind added the rule “Thou shalt criticize others” to my “program” or my self-image. As I recently understood, thanks to reading the book “Getting the love you want”, we have certain behaviours and traits that are deeply embedded in our subconscious. Even though they do not manifest in most circumstances, they will emerge in committed relationships, especially during the power struggle.
And this is the reason why your self-image and your inner voice are so important. They control your life and your actions in ways that you do not even realize or understand. In some cases, it takes other people, several arguments and months to even begin to fathom what has been lying dormant in your mind.
Thankfully, that inner voice is not always this damaging. In fact, many times it is quite harmless. For example, when somebody cuts in line at the bank, you may think “That person is so impolite!”. And that comment you make to yourself may have no effect on you whatsoever. In this case, the voice is harmless. But if it goes on saying “I cannot believe it! Why do people always have to be so rude! I hate them! Can’t they respect me? Don’t they care about other people?”. As you might expect, the second line of thought may ruin your whole day.
So, now that you understand that you have an inner voice that can control most of your life, you may want to know what you can do about it. After all, what’s the point of learning something if it does not improve your life in any way? Here are a few steps you can take to start taking back your life.
1. Discover your voice
Reading this article, you may have realized how often you normally hear your inner voice. If you can regularly notice it, it means that you already have a head start. It will be easier for you to tune in and listen to what that inner voice is saying even more often. If you notice that you seldom hear it, there are a few exercises you can do to become more aware of your voice.
- Sit quietly and just listen to your thoughts. Sit down in a relaxing position. Make sure the room is quiet and you can be alone for a few minutes. Close your eyes. As soon as your start thinking about something, notice your thoughts. Do not try to analyze them or change them. Simply observe what thoughts are going through your mind. Most thoughts might be random and neutral. Some will be positive, some will be negative. This is perfectly normal. Your task is simply to listen to your inner voice for a few minutes. You can do this every day for a week or until you notice that it gets easier to observe your thoughts.
- Write down what you are thinking. This is another useful and simple exercise. Set apart 5-10 minutes for this activity. Try to limit any distractions as TV, music or social media. Grab a notepad and write down exactly what is going through your mind for a few minutes. This too will help you better observe your train of thought. And if you are stressed, worried or depressed, this can help you even more. When you name your feelings and put them in writing, their intensity usually drops and you can assess your situation better and more objectively.
- Assess what you feel. Observe what you are feeling, especially in difficult or stressful situations. Your feelings are ultimately caused by your thoughts. They are not caused by your experiences, but by what you think about those experiences. And feelings are sometimes easier to identify than thoughts. So when you are feeling angry, jealous or depressed, stop and assess your situation. Ask yourself: “What happened before I started feeling this way? What was I thinking about?”. You will notice that when you are thinking positively about a future event, you will undoubtedly feel excitement and joy. You will never feel angry in this circumstance. Doing this exercise will also help you see the connection between thoughts and feelings more clearly.
- Meditate. Decide to empty your mind for a few minutes. Sit down and make sure you will not be distracted by noise or other people. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and calm down. Focus on your breathing and try to free yourself of all the thoughts running through your mind. Whenever a thought arises, let it go and focus on your breathing again. Do this until the alarm goes off. If you meditate often, you will notice that it gets easier and easier to let go of thoughts. Learning how to do this will help you become more aware of your thoughts. It will also give you the power to control your thoughts and separate yourself from them.
2. Realize that this voice is not you
Once you learn how to listen to your inner voice, you will be able to assess what it is saying. And you will notice that you do not agree with it 100%. When you agree with your inner voice, it means that your conscious and subconscious align and have a common perspective. When you disagree, your subconscious is stuck believing in what it learned, but your conscious mind now disagrees with it. There is an inconsistency in your mind and this can create an inner conflict. This is what happens whenever you are presented with evidence or ideas that challenge your beliefs. A part of you desperately wants to believe in what used to be the truth for so long, but the other part cannot deny the voice of reason, actual evidence and objective truths.
Now here’s the important part: if that inner voice were you, would you ever disagree with it? Can you disagree with yourself? Can you be different than yourself? Without getting very philosophical, I believe that you cannot disagree with yourself. Surely, you may have values or desires that are not compatible, but those values and desires are a part of you. And that’s exactly what this voice is too – a part of you. It’s not really you.
Think of it like this: you are like a device – a cell phone or a PC. Your inner voice and your self-image are programs that were installed on a device. For example, if you install Instagram on your cell phone, you will be able to use Instagram from your cell phone. However, your cell phone will never be Instagram. You can delete that app and install Facebook instead. Or you can delete all the apps from it and your cell phone will still be there. It’s the same with your mind. It runs the program you have installed right now – your current voice. If you change that, you will still be you.
Being able to make the distinction between you and your inner voice is crucial. This is what makes the difference between a person who acts like a mindless drone on auto-pilot and an aware person that decide what to think and how to live. Which person would you want to be? Which one do you expect to be happier, more successful and more fulfilled? I’m sure you already know the truth. Otherwise, you would not be here reading this article.
3. Assess the story the voice is saying to you
As you now know, your inner voice is constant and it controls your life. This is why you have to become aware of it and realize how it affects you. Is your inner voice supportive, encouraging, empowering? Or is it negative, critical and deprecating?
If the story you tell yourself helps you achieve what you want in life and allows you to go after your goals, rejoice! You are probably one of the lucky people that were raised by loving and supportive parents who instilled confidence in you. In this case, your inner voice is like a guardian angel or a fan who is always there to cheer you on and pick you up when you need it. It’s like having an ally that is always there, paving the way for you. Take advantage of this and make the most of your life. Use the power and confidence that you have to help build a better world for you, your family and the people who were less fortunate than you. Help and encourage other people to live amazing and inspiring lives!
And if your story is less inspiring and more depressing, remember that this is how all good stories begin. Each superhero has to face a challenge, undergo a series of trials to finally emerge as a real hero. You may have missed the start, but your story is still being written.
So now you know why you can’t go after what you want. Now you know why you feel stuck or worthless or not good enough. But now that you have seen the enemy, you have to make a choice. You can fight it or run away.
If you choose to fight it, you can take back control of your life. You can take the time and do the activates that I recommended. You can learn more about how your mind works and what changes can help you build your dream life. And if you decide to fight that inner voice, you will become the hero of your story. You will no longer drift through life wondering why you never have what you want. As you master yourself, you will be able to achieve anything you want: be it more money, a harmonious relationship, a fulfilling career, a great body or a life full of adventure. You will start acting towards your goals with excitement, enthusiasm and drive. And you will be living life on a whole new level! You’ll be amazed at how much you can really do!
However, if you choose to run away, you will lose the fight. The same voice that is holding you back will haunt you like a merciless god. It will chase after you day and night. And it will chip away at your soul until you give up any hope. Year after year, you will experience disappointment, regret and self-doubt. Your spirit will wither away until life seems dull and painful. And your story will be that of a fallen hero who refused to fight for himself…
Right now, your story is still being written. So remember that no matter what the voice is saying to you, you no longer have to listen to it. You no longer have to let it control your life like an almighty god. Understanding this gives you the power to change how you live your life.
This is the turning point, so which way will you go now? Will you go back to living a story you did not write? Or will you finally start writing a glorious novel about a brave hero who never gave up the fight?
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