Why are We so Mean to Ourselves?


Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Thought | Posted on 03-08-2017

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Mean Voice in Our Head

“You’re so dumb!” 

“You should know better.”

“You’re no good at that.”

“What makes you think you’re so great?”

Would you pay attention to and believe someone who said those things to you on a regular basis?

Probably not!

So why do you listen to and believe that voice in your head that says them?

In my coaching conversations, the number one thing holding my clients back is believing that very voice. Not only believing the horrible things it says, but believing that it is they themselves who are saying it.

We all do it.

It doesn’t seem to matter how crazy that voice sounds. It’s got a familiar ring to it (sounds exactly like us!) so we believe what it says. And worse, we act on its every whim.

Tell our spouse what we really think? Okay.

Complain to anyone who will listen about how wronged we were? Check.

Don’t move forward with our business because we’re not ready, not good enough, or just plain stupid? Obviously.

But here’s the rub. That voice is not us.

The voice is simply thoughts we happen to be having in the moment.

Thoughts that are very good at pretending to be us. They are so clever that as soon as we start to recognize them for what they are, they shape-shift into a new disguise. Thoughts that are sneaky and will do anything they can to try and make us believe they are the Real Us!

And yet, that voice (or voices) in our head has absolutely nothing to do with who we really are.

How freeing would it be for us to truly KNOW that?

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Because the voice is so cunning, time after time, moment after moment we believe its made-up nonsense. It wants our attention and will do anything to get it. For if we could ever fully recognize it as the non-existent entity that it is–that would be the end of it.

So every time we start to catch on to its nonsense, it shows up in different disguises. For instance, the voice in my head can be any or all of these at any given time:

  • A scared child seeking attention.
  • A crazy person with paranoia and/or delusions.
  • A calm voice of reason.
  • Bored.
  • Nagging.
  • One who wants to be doing anything other than what it is doing in the moment.

All of which sound like my voice.

This morning, for instance, I noticed some anxious thoughts from my scared inner child popping up. I found myself saying (to myself) “We’re not going to go there again are we?

But who was the “We” who was not going to go there?

And who was the “Me” who was even noticing and then having a conversation with the Voice in the first place?

Am I a split personality?

Was one of the voices the “real me” and the other not? Or were they both somehow me?

Should I believe the nice calm voice and not the mean one?

That would certainly be a better alternative. And it would make more sense than paying attention to the mean one. So I often try to do that.

But these days…

I’m starting to see that neither of the voices in my head are “the real me.”

While I used to believe that the calmer voice of reason was my true self, I’m not so sure anymore. I’m becoming more certain that both voices (as well as the rest of the gang) are completely made-up thought constructions.

They are not ME.

And therefore, there’s no reason for me to listen to or believe any of them.

But if I’m not the voices in my head then who am I exactly?

I’m coming to see that the real true me is not a “who” at all. I am actually the “what” which is underneath all the voices in my head.

And so are you.

We are all the powerful pristine clear infinite open space that is beyond all words.

Yet we let ourselves get dragged around and stomped on by the ridiculous, silly, mean, sneaky, uneducated, absolutely horrible voices in our head!

What’s up with that and what can we do about it?

I know for myself that the more I see and believe I’m not those voices, the more I’m able to pay less attention to them. While it might seem as if we wouldn’t be able to function in life without listening to and believing them, I’m seeing more and more that we can.

It’s once again back to going with the flow.

The more I do that–the more I see that no voices need to go there with me. It’s just me–being and doing, being and doing. When it’s time to do something, I do it. If a voice in my head complains or tries to make up excuses, I do my best to ignore it.

It’s about trust.

Trusting that the voices aren’t us (especially the mean ones), and trusting that we can live without them. Which shouldn’t be so difficult considering how crazy they often sound!

I don’t know all the psychological reasons for why our voices are so mean and nasty. But I do know from my own experience that the more we can disregard them like we would a nasty stranger on the street, the freer, more happy, more peaceful life we will lead.

Even when the proverbial $hit hits the fan, if we can have the fortitude to not make things worse by buying into our voices, we should be able to move through those times more gracefully.

How much air time are you giving your mean voices? Are you letting them run your life?

Let me know if you’d like to have a chat about this so you can start to see past the mean voices and once again move forward with your life!


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CONTACT JILL WHALEN to learn how she may help you be the best you can be.

Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety

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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.

Jill's blog, What Did You Do With Jill? is a personal account of what she's learned throughout her transformational journey. Jill has many "viral" articles on LinkedIn and is a contributing writer for P.S. I Love You.

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Yep that sounds about right and it can be difficult but it can be done. I love your posts and you are always on time thanks Jill.

Thanks, Sabrina!

Love this post- what a great reminder. I also love the cool upgrade of your website Jill. Thanks for sharing X

Thanks Rachel! Although I’m not sure what cool update you’re talking about. Is same old, same old as far as I remember!