Probably you also talk to yourself more often during the day? I advise clients to record what they say to themselves. And as a rule, criticism predominates, along the lines of: “You’re probably too stupid to…” or “How could you…” or “You’ll never manage that! Now and then, thank God, one or the other also throws in a: “you did that well”. It is exciting to read this list of quotes from the self-talk aloud or to have it read to you. Who is actually speaking? Is it me or which part of me, e.g. the adopted admonishing voice of a parent?
Sometimes I encounter the concern that hearing inner voices could be a sign of mental illness. One of my clients vehemently answered my question about what his inner voice was telling him: “I don’t hear anything! I’m not crazy!” So when is a specialist’s clarification urgently necessary? When I am not talking to myself, but when other voices are giving me orders or commenting on my actions and I cannot defend myself against them. When my abilities for self-control are switched off. Then please see a specialist as soon as possible.
Watch children at play and you will hear how many different voices each one uses: e.g. the motherly admonishing, the caring, the babyish, the scolding…. At some point in our development, we took these voices inside, spoken aloud at the time and imitated from our environment. We are no longer aware of many of them, although they continue to have an influence on us. Every now and then, I am badly clumsy. But when I realize that I hear still my mother’s voice “What a clumsy scatterbrain you are!”, I send this voice back into the past and simply try again (usually successfully 😊)
The ego states
In the late 1950s/early 1960s, Eric Berne, an American psychiatrist and co-founder of transactional analysis, described that each person acts out of three ego-states: the Child, the Parent and the Adult. This means that the ego-state that comes to the foreground in each case influences how someone experiences a situation, how he or she thinks, communicates, and acts in it. Around 1980, the psychologists John and Helen Watkins developed ego state therapy for traumatized people. The aim here is to make split-off personality parts conscious, to transform them and to reintegrate them.
The more I am aware of my ego states, the more I am able to control myself.
The Inner Team
As is so often the case, concepts from psychotherapy then find their way into professional adult education. The most illustrative and certainly the most widespread in German-speaking countries is the personality model of the Hamburg psychologist Friedemann Schulz von Thun, known as the “inner team”. It is described in detail in the book published for the first time in 1998: Miteinander Reden – Das “innere Team” und situationsgerechte Kommunikation.
But how am I going to make these dialogues of my inner team members helpful for me?
How to proceed?
- bring the inner voices into consciousness and write them down.
- speak out loud the inner voices and feel what consequences they have on you. Maybe ask a trusted person to read these voices to you.
- decide which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to change.
- go in search of inner voices and inner sentences that give you strength, perhaps with the support of a coach.
Pay attention to inner reactions, only what feels really good will help further. When the individually helpful phrase is found, this can usually be seen from the outside when the tension in the body decreases and the features become softer.
- Speak the newly found voices/phrases and their messages out loud at least twice a day for several weeks (6-8), perhaps in front of the mirror. In the process, they may change slightly.
Speaking out loud helps to become aware of what you say to yourself during the day and whether it is more energy-giving or energy-draining. Because only if I am aware of these self-talks, I can also consciously counteract them and bring more self-esteem strengthening into my communication with myself. And if I have spoken out loud a sentence that gives me strength for several weeks, then its content becomes natural for me.
When will you start doing this, if not today?
Good luck with the implementation
With best regards
Yours, Harriet Kretschmar