Your inner voice is the subconscious amalgamation of everything you think, believe, and have absorbed over your lifetime. Whether you want that voice or not, it’s there to narrate your everyday world, from your very best to your very worst moments. That inner narrative determines how you handle daily situations and respond to stressors and circumstances of all kinds.
Sadly, many people have negative inner voices that criticize them, tell them difficult things, and echo their fears and anxieties. Does this describe you? Then you know that this can drag down mental health and lead to a lot of struggles in everyday life. Luckily, you can teach that voice to be kinder! Here are three ways to train your inner voice to be more positive.
1. Understand Your Critical Voice
Your inner voice may have a lot of negative things to say about and to yourself. That’s why you need first to understand that critical voice to begin to fine-tune it into something more possible. Here are some steps to take to understand that voice:
· Recognize The Source Of The Voice
Critical voices are learned over time. No one is born with a natural negative voice that tells them harmful things, after all. You pick up messages as you interact with the world around you and have new experiences, and the most damaging statements that hurt you the most get repackaged by your inner voice for personal use.
In other words, those voices weren’t ones you organically made. Instead, they’re voices born from the words of others, the trauma of difficult circumstances, or other forms of conditioning. Recognizing the source of your critical voice will allow you to see where its roots lie so you can examine them, dig them out, and determine if that source should even continue to have any influence on your life.
Please pay attention to your inner voice without seeking to believe it right away, and try to understand what it’s saying to you. Pick out situations where your critical voice becomes most loud and overpowering, and carefully listen to the criticisms it has to offer. It can be hard to properly articulate that message, especially if it’s very harsh. To understand the message, try to reframe the language to “you” instead of “I.”
For example, instead of saying, “I’m such a lazy person,” say, “You’re so lazy.” Then, think – who has said that to you before? And is that hostility from hearing it with “you” language warranted? Is that message true, or is it the voice of someone cruel, harsh, and judgemental? Hearing the message for what it is with “you” language can help unpack the purpose of that message, who has used it against you before, and if you believe it.
· Understand How The Voice Affects You
Think about how your critical voice affects your daily interactions. Does it make you feel less confident? Have you missed out on opportunities due to that critical voice? Do you underestimate yourself? Turn people off with your self-deprecation? Allow yourself to be subjected to poor treatment?
Examining how a critical voice affects you and your positive thinking can be enough to make you realize that this voice is harming more than helping – and also that it’s also wholly counterproductive and doesn’t serve your best interests or life at all!
2. Actively Seek The Bright Side
There are bright sides to every situation, even if those bright sides aren’t as big as you want them to be. If you want your inner voice to learn to latch onto bright sides, then it’s time to start actively seeking those sides out. Here’s how to do so:
· Explain Things Positively
When you see different events in your life, you have a natural way of explaining them in your head with your inner voice. This is called the explanatory style. Research has shown that this style is closely linked to how much positive thinking you have overall – or, more specifically, how much pessimism and optimism you have.
If you’re a pessimist, you’ll naturally attribute good events in your life to “chance” or external forces. When adverse events occur, you’ll blame yourself or feel that you are personally attacked by them. But if you’re an optimist, you see adverse events as isolated ones outside of your control, and you give yourself more credit for specific positive events.
The more you use a specific explanatory style, the more enforced the relevant thinking style becomes. So start training your inner voice to explain things as an optimist would, and your natural optimism will grow.
· Use Humor
Some situations can really, genuinely feel terrible. While you shouldn’t force positivity, you can undoubtedly use humor as a means of maintaining positive thinking and optimism. If you’re in a situation when you can’t crack a joke out loud, let your inner voice take the reins and lightheartedly poke fun at the problem.
Remaining open to laughter and humor, even in dark times, can help to relieve stress. Besides that, it trains your voice to be more positive over time. If you need some help, crack open a joke book, watch some funny videos or movies, or listen to comedy podcasts!
· Be Grateful
Gratitude is a vast and vital part of actively seeking the bright side of things, and long-term practices of gratitude can permanently change your inner voice for the better. Pay attention to the good sides of all situations. If a bad thing happens, look for the silver lining through gratitude. What can you still be grateful for at that moment? Did you learn a particular lesson? Do you have a support system to help you through the tough time? Are you in good health?
If you need a little more help honing the skill of gratitude, you can make use of a gratitude journal or similar item, where you note down things you’re grateful for every day. Gratitude has positive effects on mental and physical wellbeing, so it’s a good habit to build overall!
It can feel silly at first to “talk to yourself” by replying to your negative thoughts and voice. But doing so will begin to build up your cheerful inner voice in response. For example, if your critical voice says, “You’re such a lazy person! You lag behind everyone, and no one wants to be around such a drag! Why even try to begin with?”, you can respond with a positive voice: “No, I am not lazy! My journey may take longer than other people’s, but I make progress every day, and I am not defined by other people’s paths. I try for myself, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come.”
Learn to understand the critical voice’s message and roots. As a result, it trains your inner voice to become more positive. You can also add more information to your response to reframe wider worldviews. For example, in the aforementioned response, you may add, “Life isn’t a race, and the world isn’t a game meant for people to win.” Everyone takes their own time getting to their end goals in life, and my time is well-spent this way. We’re all the same – we’re all people working towards our goals!” You don’t need to force positivity. Instead, create a more realistic view, and positivity will follow naturally.
3. Take Responsibility
You are responsible for training your inner voice. A lot of negativity comes from feelings of lost control or a lack of acceptance of things that can’t be controlled. This means that to better support a cheerful inner voice, you need to learn to focus on the things you are responsible for over the things that you can’t help or change at all. Here are some things to focus on taking responsibility for:
· Past Consequences Of Negativity
Think about all the times where your inner voice’s negativity has harmed you. Those were your thoughts, and you let them control you to the point of self-sabotage and accidental harm to your life and opportunities. But just as your inner voice harmed you, it can be harnessed to flip the switch. Take responsibility for responding to situations and understand that being positive is the best option for your life’s trajectory and improvement.
· Your Social Circle
You get to control who you surround yourself with, so choose positive people who will uplift you – and of course, uplift them in turn. When your friends consist of positive inner voices, you will learn from them and gain their support. Let go of toxic people and disengage from those who seek to bring you down.
· Your Behavior
When you face a difficult situation, what is your instinct? Playing a victim role or taking a defensive stance is tempting, but it’s not the responsible thing to do. Take ownership of your actions, make apologies if necessary, and learn from bad situations to inform your future behavior. Your inner voice will flourish when you begin admitting to your faults and working to improve them with positivity.
· Your Care
Self-care is essential to positive thinking, and you won’t get any of that care if you don’t make sure that you do. Training your inner voice to be more positive can happen indirectly in this manner; when you take care of yourself, you send a subconscious message to your mind that you deserve to be looked after and to be treated well. Your inner voice will pick up on that message itself, as long as you make sure to carry out self-care routines responsibly.
· Your Goals
Changing your inner voice won’t happen overnight, and training it can take time. You are responsible for ensuring that your inner voice is sufficiently taught, creating personal goals for that improvement. Make clear, actionable, realistic, and measurable goals, breaking them down into small milestones that you can celebrate each time.
Your inner voice is a powerful tool. If you allow it to stay negative, then it will ultimately be your downfall. Learning to train that voice towards positive thinking is vital to your well-being, success, and life growth.