Here are some exercises you can experiment with to help you change the way you listen to your inner voice when it’s being negative/pessimistic. 

  • To begin, practice becoming more aware of your self-talk. At regular intervals during the day stop and tune into yourself (just like you did above). Ask ‘What am I saying to myself at this moment? Is it empowering or disempowering?’ If the message is a negative/pessimistic one go ahead and challenge it and then replace it with a more empowering message.

  • Once you aware of your self-talk imagine:
    • you have a volume control knob, and you can simply turn the volume down; or
    • the negative voice is a barking dog, tied to a tree, and you just keep on walking; or 
    • you have another voice on your shoulder that says good empowering things to you and drowns out the negative voice.

  • Most people pay attention to the words that their internal voice says. However, the way in which the message is delivered is often much more important than the words themselves. Things like tone, accent and speed are often much easier, simpler and quicker to change. For example you can change:

    • the tonality of your self-talk. The tonality of a voice is often a major factor in how we respond to it. When you change the tonality of a troublesome self-talk, often you don’t have to change the words at all in order to change your response. Experiment by giving the voice a softer tone, or a humorous tone.
    • the sound of the voice completely to that of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck or Elmer Fudd or some other silly cartoon character.
    • the speed of the voice. Experiment with speeding it up or slooowing it riiiiiight doooooooown

  • Practice mindfulness. Focus on the present moment. Most of our problems and difficulties don’t exist in the here and now; they are usually either memories of the past, or thoughts about what might be happening right now in some other place, or thoughts about the future. When you practice mindfulness you focus your attention on some aspect of your present experience such as your breathing and in doing so withdraw attention from the troubling voice, allowing it to recede into the background of your awareness. Learning how to redirect your attention in this way can free you from being a helpless prisoner of your self-talk/thoughts.
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