I Do What the Voices in My Head Tell Me.
I recall a bumper sticker from some time ago that said, "I do what the voices in my head tell me to do." At the time I thought that was somewhat cute; a novel way to poke fun at mental illness. However, as I have worked in the field of mental health for almost two decades, I realize there is more truth to that statement than I would like to admit. Often we do in fact do what the voices in our head tell us to do. And depending upon the nature of that self-talk (negative or positive) our emotions, our performance, our relationships, and our overall mental and emotional healthy will be effected.
The running dialogue within our minds begins early in life as we try to figure out whom we are as a person, especially when compared to those around us. We internalize basic beliefs about ourselves. Those beliefs become a filter through which we interpret everything that happens. Unfortunately, our self-talk often includes too many negative statements. "I'm so stupid," "I'll never succeed," and other negative messages become our natural "go-to" interpretations of ourselves. This is especially true in a world that places self-worth on comparisons of others. Performance, wealth, power, fame, and other cultural fads have become the measuring sticks by which we judge our own worth.
After time and repetition, these internal beliefs become "implicit memories." As such, we are barely, if at all, aware of how frequently or how powerfully they shape our lives. They are habitual.
Consider this. Stop reading for just a moment and cross your arms across your chest. Now look. Which arm is on top? Now reverse them. If you're like most people you had to stop and think about how to put the other arm on top, and once you do, it felt very uncomfortable. This is how natural our implicit beliefs and memories about ourselves become. It actually becomes uncomfortable, even unnatural to feel or do the opposite of our implicit memory.
To facilitate lasting change in a person's life addressing negative beliefs is essential. This is one reason positive affirmations, said daily, (hopefully multiple times a day) are so important. But positive affirmations are only part of the path to change. Often, the source of the negative belief must be discovered and addressed. Effective approaches to therapy such as EMDR and Coherence Therapy have success in addressing these issues, often very quickly.
In recovery from many relational issues, substance and behavioral addictions, and healing from trauma, addressing core beliefs is essential to healing. This is not about blaming our parents or making excuses for what is happening in our lives today. It is about getting the stories straight about what has worked together to make us the people we are today. It is also very much about discovering the power to change.
Therapists at Counseling Alliance have advanced training in addressing these types of hindrances to growth and healing. Give us a call today and discover more about how these issues may be keeping you trapped in negative cycles of depression, anger, unwanted behaviors, and relational problems. We can help. Be sure to ask about our JumpStart to Healing® programs that are very popular and effective in facilitating change.