In my opinion, we all have an inner voice.
Some people are unaware of theirs and will find the concept bizarre.
Others, like me, are very familiar with their internal monologue and may have an awareness of how much influence it can have over them if they let it.
My inner voice has, for some time, been known as Winston.
[For those old enough to remember, he’s named after a character in a Lenny Henry show who was constantly told, in a mock West Indian accent, to “Chill, Winston”. I chose this name as it breaks down his seriousness, slightly mocks him and reminds him to just calm down, which he often needs.]
Apart from when we’re asleep, we’re thinking. I don’t know this for sure or based on any proven scientific evidence, but it certainly feels like thinking is a permanent thing during my waking hours. But the way in which I’d distinguish my thoughts from my inner voice, is the element of criticism or judgement in the content and tone of that voice.
A thought might be “What shall I have for dinner?” or “This avocado is nice.”.
My inner voice might say “Well you shouldn’t have much for dinner because you haven’t done any exercise today and you’re getting pretty fat.”.
I’ve just realised that my inner voice says my least favourite word, SHOULD, a lot. Naughty Winston.
And thinking about it, perhaps I have 3 inner voices (someone call the people in white coats) – my neutral thoughts, my critical voice Winston and then my observing voice. The latter hasn’t always been around, but has been growing in confidence as I get more curious about myself – it’s the sensible, smart, funny antidote to Winston and puts him in his place when he’s getting out of control. Perhaps I will call her Winnie.
The loudest voice in the room
When I’ve experienced times of depression, Winston is definitely the loudest voice in the room and can be brutally unkind. He has a way of finding the worst view to take on any situation and the most critical interpretation of my behaviour and thought patterns. When I’m not feeling very strong, it’s really easy to believe that Winston is very intelligent, tells it exactly as it is and that him and I are one in the same person.
Of course, he’s a part of me, but I work quite hard to make sure that he doesn’t get to be in control or lead the way in my life. He has a role in warning me against danger and identifying risks, but he is very blinkered so his opinion should never be taken in isolation.
Winnie is becoming my saviour. She is sensible and kind. She’s learning to spot Winston and stop him in his tracks, to laugh at him and tell him that his view is an extreme and, often untrue, interpretation of what’s going on in my world.
[I’m concerned this is all getting a bit cryptic. I hope your inner voice is getting the gist of my outer voice?]
Now you’ve met the team
So, to launch this month’s theme, I just wanted to introduce you to the concept of inner voice and tell you a bit about mine (it appears there’s a whole family in my head).
The remainder of my posts this month will help you to identify your own voice and to learn constructive and healthy ways to work with it/them.
Winston, Winnie and I hope you find it all both interesting and useful.