Unparenting Ourselves: The WAY we talk to ourselves is our inner voice

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I have seen the above graphic posted several times on social media sites. It is often accompanied by words of encouragement or a short video encouraging us to speak kindly to our children. However, in order to speak kindly to our children, we must first evaluate whether we speak kindly to ourselves. Many of us have had significant adult influences in our life whose language is more similar to the right side of this graphic. What do we do if this has become our inner voice? Can we be a good parent or even friend, employee, or sibling when this negative language constitutes our inner voice? How do we stop the cycle?

Like any good recovery, the first step is to recognize the problem. In this case it is to recognize that you are constantly saying these negative things to yourself. Often we do not even realize that this inner voice exists and is saying such negative things to us until we take a moment to stop and recognize it.

Once we have recognized that our inner voice is negative, we can then begin to overcome it. This will be easier for some than for others. For some, simply recognizing the constant negativity in our thoughts is enough to begin to cleanse those thoughts. For others, a more active approach is needed. This is often the case when the negativity is part of deeply rooted belief patterns, possibly instilled by a caregiver. If, as the graphic describes, a caregiver has become our negative inner voice, then we have to start there. Acknowledging the caregiver as the source of this negativity allows us to disassociate it from our own identity and let it go.

It is difficult to change our thinking. However, at some point we have to move on from the hurt. We may never “get over” others’ actions or events that transpire. Part of any bereavement process is acceptance. We must accept the things that we cannot change and begin to move past them so we can heal ourselves. Holding grudges and blaming others for our current state does not allow us to heal. As we recognize and overcome negative thinking patters and actively work to change, we will be more present in our current lives. We can stop holding ourselves back from the things that we want and begin to pursue a happier, healthier life.


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