Whose voice do you hear? is it yours, your partners, your parents? We can build our identities and beliefs about ourselves from others’ interference.
Humans, they fascinate me. Sometimes, I watch them all from a distance and think, “I wonder if they’re taking in the scenery?” Then I imagine them stuck in their own heads, letting the world go by as they let what influences them dominate. Then I wonder, “Whose voices do you hear?”
While I am always hopeful that they take the beauty of the planet in, I know that we are, to a large extent, led. Led by our thoughts, our fears, and voices of our past. One of the downsides of being a modern person is that we get stuck in our own heads. Not a good thing.
But does it have to be? I argue that the answer is no! In fact, our biological archives of our lives can be useful.
It’s all in your head
Firstly, it’s important to understand why we are more prone to negativity than positivity. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do I remember all the bad memories more?” Well, the answer is survival. Huh? How do bad memories help us survive?
As it turns out, part of the daily struggles of early humans was avoidance. Therefore, anything uncomfortable became a signal to “protect thyself.” Simply stated, the brain was wired for ‘what-ifs.’ So, we evolved to look for potential threats to our safety. A thought process that we now know as negative. In other words, negative thoughts were probably early problem-solving.
Not unlike when I was back in the fire service, we trained for these what-ifs. “What if there is a wildfire that threatens the town?” However unlikely, we still needed a concrete procedure. Because we firefighters are trained for such incidents, we tend to bring them up – while some may say, ” That will never happen, don’t be so negative.” We, nonetheless, trained for them – before they happened.
See: a perceived negative statement. In reality, “being negative” has some real-world utility. Thinking of a disaster like a wild-land fire and then training to stop them increases survivability.
So, our brains go to is the “what-if” process. Essential in some scenarios, debilitating in others.
Whose voice do you hear?
So, then, what’s this got to do with whose voice you hear? Glad you asked. We modern people have a different scenario playing out in our environment than those of the past. We have, for example, the Monday to Friday grind. For five days a week, we get up, go through our morning routine, go to work, and repeat. With the advent of traffic, deadlines and looking after the domestic stuff, we feel stress.
And as if that weren’t enough, we have our parental and relationship histories impacting how we cope with said world. Couple this with this negative wiring, and you have some interesting results.
Say for example, you were raised by racist parents. What does this constant hatred do to a person? Well, for starters, it continues to pass on the racist attitudes – regardless of the sources of the feeling hate. You will be, by definition, a negative person. What’s more is that this constant hate isn’t going to make life easy for the hater. Fighting out groups all the time is just not good for you. The remedy in this case is to free yourself from the voices whose lasting effects have eroded your quality of life.
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To offer up another example, one that may seem more relatable to more people, is the voice of a spouse. While we are all looking for something great in a relationship, sadly, this isn’t always the case.
Because we are wired to highlight the negative, it’s easy for a toxic partner to manipulate us. For instance, if your partner is constantly critical, they slowly replace your self-script and rewrite it. Eventually, all you’ll hear in your head is the rubbish they’ve spouted.
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So, let’s say, your partner constantly body shames you. What are you going to hear in your head? Moreover, what will this do to your mental health?
In short, it will rob you of your joy. But more than that, it will change your sense of identity. For example, you – the one you knew – will be hijacked by their narratives. “I’m ugly.” Statements like I’m ugly,” are short form for; “I’m not worthy of being loved.” Or “I’m not good enough.”
In essence, you are being re-programed. Remember this.
What can you do?
You know what they say, “if you hear something long enough, you’ll begin to believe it. Sadly, this is another tendency for humans. However, we also have the ability to question narratives and thus take back who we are. Although it’s no easy task, your journey to recover who you are can start by writing down: 1) how many times your partner has made you feel like crap about yourself. And 2) how often in general you have felt angry, sad, shamed, or devalued by someone you love. Be sure to do the same for all the good times too.
Why? Because reading back your pain has a way of making it real. It’s a great visual to say, “maybe this person doesn’t love me if they are mostly criticizing me.” Lastly, if there is more pain than happy, in this respect, move on. Any narrative that makes you feel like you’re nothing, can have long-term implications.
So, whose voice do you hear? If, for instance, you always hear your inner voice saying things like “I’m fat and no one will want me”, it could be the voice of a toxic partner telling you this. Often, it’s done to make you stay. Power and control are not relationship qualities.
Unfortunately, once you physically break free, your now-toxic ex can still have that power. That’s why you need to write it out. It’s not you telling yourself these things, it’s the reprogramming you didn’t know had happened.
Finally, if this sounds like you, I suggest you seek help from a mental-health professional. This is a safe environment, and it can tell you a lot about the situation you are in. Say you find that in these sessions your partner does the talking for you, doesn’t take responsibility for their part in the relationship, and tries reframing your experience, (gaslighting) – it’s time to move on. However, if he or she is listening, genuinely saddened by your feedback, and shows concern for you, these are all green flags. Sometimes we have our own narratives driving the bus. Ones we may not be aware of. Thankfully, if the two of you can put the work in and authentically love one another, the chances of a healthier relationship coming out the other end is higher.
So, is this you? Are you spending more time being torn down and constantly being treated poorly? You could be in a power and control scenario, not a loving partnership. The good news is, you can leave and take back the narrative and free your authentic self for a chance at real love.