Despite being of a single mind, most people have at least one other inner voice pulling them in many different directions. One tweet I saw with an Anthony Bourdain quote sums this up well.

My theory is everyone has at least one horrible voice like this. A voice that sounds just like them, trying to pull them somewhere that seems great but only hurts us in the long run. It’s hard to ignore, since it seems like it’s just us. If it’s in our own mind and sounds just like us, it must be normal to accept what it says, right?

That’s what the horrible voice wants, to make acceptance of what it says normal. That’s how it succeeds in dragging us down.

Lately I’ve recognized what my own horrible voice is like. It sounds nice enough, nudging me when it thinks I did something wrong. Pointing out even the smallest flaws in a passive-aggressive, overly-critical tone that seems encouraging. All it really wants is to wear down my self-esteem until I’m paralyzed with doubt. If I try to argue with it, it claims it’s just trying to help and I need to be open to feedback.

Let the Horrible Voice Just Exist

Your horrible voice may be the same. It may be totally different. It may still sound so much like your own, you can’t tell it apart. But I believe it exists in all of us. It knows exactly what buttons to push, what fears to poke with a stick, and how to break us.

As terrible as I make this sound, this horrible voice is totally normal. There’s no shame in acknowledging it exists and the weaknesses it reveals in our character. Trying to deny it only makes it stronger.

Our true tests of strength lie in recognizing the voice and choosing not to listen. I treat my horrible voice like a passing breeze: it suddenly appears and tries to bother me. I acknowledge it, laugh at myself, squint my eyes, keep walking forward, and pick my thoughts back up where I left off. Eventually it passes, and I only register it slightly before life goes on.

The horrible voice simply exists there. Fighting it or denying it only makes it louder. Accepting it as it is with little acknowledgment won’t silence it, but can reduce it to hum in the background.

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