Assigning the proper relevance to your inner voice

Every inner voice always starts as an outer voice. 

It’s just that somewhere down the line, you started to internalize the message of devaluation. And after enough repetitions, you eventually accepted it as gospel. 

Convincing yourself that, well, if this is the story everybody tells about me, then it must be the truth. Better not question it. 

My therapist once said that the most telling question he asked each of his clients was:

Who was the first person in your life to tell you that you weren’t enough? 

Those moments never leave us. Whether they come from parents, siblings, coaches, friends or that punk ass kid from gym class who didn’t want you on his kickball team because you couldn’t execute a simple double play at the seasoned age of eight, the trance of unworthiness doesn’t play favorites. 

Everyone is fair game. Notenoughness is like chicken pox. We all get it. 

The challenge, then, is to uncover the pivotal transition from outer voice to inner voice. To trace back to when we began internalizing a false story. 

One way is to observe the next time we adopt a critical voice towards ourselves. For example, let’s say that every time we eat ice cream, there’s a grating undercurrent of shame that keeps spoiling the joy of that experience. 

Instead of judging ourselves, we consider whose external voice we might be channeling. We think about whose identity narrative we might be falsely adopting. We picture the broken record inside our head that has been skipping and jumping on the same goddamn song of unworthiness since childhood, and wonder which family member might have been the disc jockey. 

After all, our emotional reactions are based more on what happened to us than what’s happening to us. And in the process, we might discover that our negative emotional response to eating ice cream is actually quite reasonable and logical based on our personal history. 

And in fact, there’s no need to shame ourselves every time we eat a chocolate covered waffle cone with two scoops of peanut butter cookie dough and an avalanche of multicolored sprinkles. 

If we’re willing to plumb the depths of the self and uncover the origin of our most insidious voices, we’re likely to discover that they’re not even ours in the first place. 

In which case, we can accept those voices as a part of us, know that they’re not something we need to kill, and try to find a way to put our arm around them and say, thanks for sharing, but I got this. 


Are you assigning the proper relevance to your inner voices? 

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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