By David Joel Miller
Should you listen to those voices in your head?
You know the ones I mean, the doubt, the discouragement, the thoughts of depression and anxiety. Those voices that tell you things will never be better. They say you can’t do this and you must do that. Those voices are maintaining you emotional and mental problems.
We all have those voices in our head at times. The ones that tell us we must do something or that we will never be able to do something. How we interpret those voices makes all the difference.
Those voices in your head and you do not need to be psychotic to hear them, they arise from all sorts of things. They can be the voices of negative people from your past. Remember that those adults that told you depressing, hurtful things, they may have had an emotional problem also. It is not unusual for a depressed parent to pass those voices of despair down to their descendants.
Not all voices in our heads are negative. Sometimes they are telling us valuable information, memories from our happy experiences. But remember other times what they say are outright lies. How can you tell the difference?
Frequently, that thing we call a voice in our head is our own thoughts, thoughts heavily influenced by our emotional state. When we are in a bad mood, down and dejected, those voices talk of doom and gloom, the tales of the depressed.
Some people take this to be the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. Our thoughts are telling us we should or shouldn’t do or think a particular thing.
If you are more philosophical than religious you might frame this as a conflict between your conscience and your desires. If that voice in your head is telling you to go ahead and do it, you can get away with it this one time. That is probably your desires. If the voice says that what you are thinking about is wrong – that might be your conscience. But there are exceptions.
Others of us will interpret those “voices” in our heads, those thoughts that sound so convincing that they must come from somewhere else, as messages from God or our higher power. If you get that thought, be careful to check out this message with your spiritual adviser. The God talking to you may be a function of your emotional problems.
Another source of those “voices in your head” is things you have been told in the past. Under times of stress, and most of life is stressful, memories of what we have been told come back.
What we constantly need to ask ourselves is – are these voices telling the truth?
Believing that because you have a sudden thought, that you must do a particular thing, can result in a lot of problems.
More cognitive humans might interpret these “voices” as automatic thoughts. Over time the things we tell ourselves and are told become so a part of us that we think these thoughts as if they were facts. Those ideas are our automatic default ways of believing even when they do not match the facts of the current situation.
These voices in our heads become problematic when we lose the ability to dispute what they are saying. We do not need to believe everything that we think. What we tell ourselves may only be true because we say it.
If you find that those voices will not be silent even when you command them. If those voices take on a personality of their own, then it is time for professional help and probably medication.
But short of a true psychotic experience, we all have those recurring thoughts that might at times sound like voices telling us things. Whether those voices are the memories of what you were told as a child or are your own imaginings, remember that sometimes the voices lie.
Not only is some of our self-talk lies but what those old voices in your head are telling you, that may be lies also.
What has your depression, bipolar, anxiety or other emotional problem been telling you? Are your internal voices telling you the truth or has your depression been telling you lies again?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books