The voice in our heads is the main thing we all listen to. It is the background noise for every single day. It is also sadly one of the meanest voices you will ever hear. Most of us speak to ourselves in ways we would probably not even speak to our worst enemy. We put ourselves down, we do not take ourselves seriously, we rarely see our accomplishments and focus intensely on our failures. If the voice inside your head was your friend or boyfriend you would (hopefully) dump them immediately, yet getting rid of our own constant doubt or nagging seems almost impossible. Especially since most of us have been growing up with these intrusive and destructive thoughts and not only think they are normal, we also sadly tend to think they are true.

It is so important to untangle this web we are caught in, take a step back and start to change the ways we think about ourselves to truly feel better about ourselves. I still have intrusive thoughts, I still doubt myself, but slowly and surely I am learning to step in and tell myself: "Is this thought logical? Would you let anyone else speak to you this way?" And while I still sometimes get caught in my own thoughts, I have gotten a lot better at not letting these patterns run my day.

To be fair I had professional help. Changing the way I think about myself has been one of the most important lessons I learned in therapy and I am so, so grateful I had access to it. I wish every country had a health care system like Germany and even more importantly, I wish therapy was less looked down on, considered less of a character flaw or unnecessary. I personally think every single person would benefit from therapy. But sadly there is still a huge stigma around it, so if you theoretically have access to therapy and have backed away from it, because you think you need to feel "worse" or do not want to seem "crazy" let me tell you that going to therapy has been one of the best decisions I have ever made to live a happier life. I feel better on the daily and I would recommend it to anybody.

The two main ways to untangle my thought jungle was to 1) find out where my constant criticism came from and 2) find a way to manage these thoughts. I think for many of us the constant stream of "You are not good enough" "You are a failure" "Everyone hates you" has been with us for so long, that we do not really question it. We take these thoughts as facts and run with whatever our mind tells us about ourselves. Now if you take a step back you may realise these thought patterns have been fed to you. Whether this is through your parents, society or friends is something you need to find out on your own. But once you realise where these ideas stem from you can actually look at them and decide if you want them in your life or not.

Obviously they will still sneak up on you, but if you are in a good headspace you can decide to not listen to them. This is a very rational approach, which I think is a really good first step. One example is me constantly thinking I annoy other people, or that people do not really want to hang out with me.  In the past this led to me withdrawing, not answering texts and cancelling social events. When I told my therapist about these thoughts she simply said "Do you really think people would go out of their way to spend time with you if they dislike you? In which way would that benefit them at all?" This was so incredibly simple, but still shook me to my core, because of course that sounds ridiculous. No one would do that. But I was so stuck inside my own head, that I had simply accepted my thoughts as facts. I think so many of us do this and this is why it is so important to take a step back and reexamine.

While this logical approach is really helpful and a great place to start, human beings are not fully logical. Or actually logical at all. Our main patterns of thought stem from really early childhood. This means the first two years of your life shape your patterns of thinking and feeling for your entire life. Very little of this process if logical. So if you have learned as a young child, that you need to work to be loved, that you in yourself are not good enough, this pattern will be with you for the rest of your life. You may not even realise in which ways this influences you, but the first few years of your life shape your relationships with others and yourself in immense ways. I really, really recommend the book "The Child within You Must Find a Home" to everybody. It describes how these patterns are formed in much more detail and also explains how to work through these underlying believe systems.

In very, very simple terms, when you put yourself down, think that others dislike you, that you are not good enough, stop and imagine yourself as a really young child. Would you say these things to a two year old? In many instances it is your inner child reacting to situations as it has learned. As a child you do not have the capacity to understand things logically, you mainly react to what is taught. However now as a grown up you are able to realise how toxic and wrong your thoughts are. And you owe it to that hurt child inside of you to treat yourself better. I know many people recommend talking to yourself like your friend, but as fucked up as that sounds: we like our friends. We very often do not like ourselves. However speaking this way to a younger version of yourself seems impossible, because we do not want to hurt children.

Just the other day I had one of my most common thought patterns "You are not doing enough". I realistically never feel like I am doing enough, always feel like I could or should do more. My best friend once said: "You could build the first rocket that goes to Mars and actually make the trip and still say: Oh man I did not even do Pilates today". I am currently in Melbourne and while I have two jobs as a waitress, I only work part time, I am no longer studying and so I have a lot of time on my hands. However instead of using this time for what I meant to use it like enjoying my free time before I start a full time job, as a time to do the things I enjoy like reading or cooking or absolutely nothing I get into this spiral of "underarchieving" meaning I work out, do Yoga, read, write and still feel useless at the end of the day. I know that logically it makes no sense, but I don´t emotionally feel this way. However when I think of my baby self, all I want to say is: "You do not need to constantly work. You are enough as you are and you deserve rest" This emotional approach has helped me to break this cycle much more than the rational one.

So as you can see there a different ways to approach your intrusive thoughts and you have to find the one that works for you. But you do not constantly have to listen to the voices in your head. They do not have some form of ultimate truth. And over time you may actually be able to transform them into more loving thoughts, while stopping the destructive ones. I really hope so, because you deserve it.

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Thanks so much for your lovely comments, constructive criticism and suggestions. I will try to answer all of you!