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The Little Voice in Your Head – Friend or Foe?

The Little Voice in Your Mind Perceptual Filter

“The thoughts that are expressed by The Little Voice are habitual, often irrational and certainly unexamined.”

Have you ever noticed “The Little Voice” inside your mind?

To be clear, I don’t mean the whisper of intuition, although sometimes The Little Voice would like you to believe that’s what it is.  No, I mean The Little Voice that sounds something like a TV voice-over providing a running commentary of opinions, beliefs, and judgments about your experiences, other people, and especially about yourself. It judges what’s good, bad, acceptable, unacceptable, believable, or ridiculous. The Little Voice often determines what you are willing to accept and especially about what you decide to reject.

How useful is The Little Voice?

While it’s certainly useful to know what you like and don’t like – Chocolate? Yes! Licorice? No!too often  The Little Voice is a powerful inner critic that obstructs your ability to experience love, joy and success. The Little Voice keeps a significant portion of your attention focused in the past or future thus distracting your mind from the ability to actually enjoy the present moment.

The thoughts that are expressed by The Little Voice are habitual, often irrational and certainly unexamined. The Little Voice is really just a collection of automatic patterns of thought which eventually become filters through which you perceive reality – filters which tend to limit rather than empower. However, you don’t experience your filters as filters, you experience them as reality! Even more insidious, you tend to experience your filters as the real you.

You are not your filters

Let me assure you, you are not your filters. Buddhists call this inner voice “the monkey mind” because it’s always chattering and busy. Meditation is an ancient practice that helps quiet The Little Voice. In that silence, you have the opportunity to experience your identity separately from The Little Voice. Some call this moment of realization “enlightenment.”

The purpose of The Little Voice.

The Little Voice tries to provide you with a sense of security by trying to keep you safe and comfortable within the status quo. If reality changes too drastically, The Little Voice is there to sound the danger signal. It will just say no and want you to step on the brakes.  The Little Voice would rather not change its opinions, thank you very much. The thing The Little Voice loves most of all? Being right. Right is safe. Right is secure. This is why some people would rather be right than happy, successful, forgiving, or free. Or even alive. Being “right” is an illusion.

The Little Voice + Fear = BFF’s

When threatened, The Little Voice is not above recruiting a few anxiety attacks. It wants things to stay the same and knows that fear freezes flow. It will call on subconscious fears so you won’t even know why you are afraid to move forward in your life even when you have a strong conscious desire to do so. I encourage you stop letting The Little Voice discourage you from trying new ideas. The Little Voice is very skilled at pretending it’s the voice of knowledge or wisdom when it’s really just another opinion.

Suggestions for dealing with The Little Voice

1. Notice – The first step is to simply become consciously aware of The Little Voice and notice what it’s saying.

2. Identify – Reclaim your power. Remember that The Little Voice is not who you really are.

3. Evaluate – Most of The Little Voice’s beliefs were acquired in childhood and may not have been updated in a long, long time. Determine whether The Little Voice is helpful in any given situation.  If it is, great! But if it isn’t say, “Thank you for sharing,” and do what the real you knows is best.

4. Meditate – One of the best ways to quiet The Little Voice, and discover who you really are, is to take some time every day to quiet your mind. Basic meditation is not difficult or complicated. Sit in a comfortable position on the floor, or in a chair, and simply focus your awareness on your breath, or repeat a silent mantra such as “Peace” for 5 to 10 minutes.  When your mind wanders, which it will, gently bring it back to your breath or mantra.

5. Retrain – Teach The Little Voice some new ways to be “right.” Train it to have positive automatic thoughts by using affirmations, guided visualization and hypnosis. For example, if The Little Voice reminds you, “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” automatically replace that thought with an affirmation such as, “Money is created by human energy and imagination, which is infinite.”

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • maki

    Thanx alot for the article. I loved it a lot.

  • Eric

    Thank you very much! This article was very helpful!

  • D

    Very helpful and concise. Thank you.

  • Brad Atkins

    Yes… And I mean yes. I once saw this movie called REVOLVER which intales this in a visual, but the true elegance is in the sequence from which you’ve stated. And if anyone hasn’t seen this film, I suggest reading this article than watching that and I swear anew. I will share this on Twitter in hopes that someone else too, will be enlighten.

  • anonymous

    My friend says he has two of the little voices in his head, and sometimes they do not agree with each other. He says they do not tell him to do certain things, but one will be ‘good’ and the other ‘bad’, as in one will say he likes a person and the other hates that same person.

  • anna

    Thank you so much! I was looking for JUST this kind of article.

  • zee

    Really good points Linda . . This happens to me a lot ,but I did not really understand the negative impact.. that little voice I have had in my head over the years holding me back and pretending it wants to keep me safe . Thanks for this post . I learnt a whole lot from this..

  • Confused&alone

    The voice in my head is stagnating my life. It is zapping my energy and taking the love of life out. It tells me to kill myself.

    • Linda Gabriel

      I’m sorry that you are suffering from these unwanted thoughts. Voices telling you to kill yourself are not the normal negativity this article addresses. I strongly urge you to immediately seek the help of a doctor or mental health professional. Please.

  • Dakota

    I cannot for the love of me genuinely access my little voice as others constantly are burdened by one. It feels terrible that your own mind doesnt want to be a part of your every day life. Of course if i sit still and think, I’ll create a fantasy conversation with myself, which is usually extremely one sided and dull as dull can be. If anything, my mind is lonely, and as stated, its a terrible feeling to have.

    • Linda Gabriel

      I’ve heard others say they don’t have a little voice in their mind, yet it was the little voice that created that very thought! Furthermore, if you can sit and create a fantasy conversation, then why not make it interesting? Just a suggestion!

      But I don’t want to neglect your statement about loneliness being a terrible feeling. It sounds like you need to spend some time connecting with other people. Perhaps you can volunteer or join a meetup group in your town. Good luck to you and thanks for your comment.

  • Steve

    As you can see by all four comments above through the years, this valuable understanding has gone unnoticed by the majority of people who might be set free by it. I came to an understanding earlier this week, that in order to have a conflict inside yourself you have to have at least two opposing sides. Eliminate the inner voices negative influence and bring yourself back to one piece. Think of it as two enemies that hate each other and will fight to the death and your stuck in the middle. It would probably be impossible for you persuade them not to kill one another, and if you were not careful you might get hurt. Same thing in your head, your fighting other peoples battles. Let it go its not your fight. If you even found this page you are on the right track to a better life!

  • kev

    as ive always believed and said just you set it out and explain better, very good post i like it 🙂

  • Steven

    This is a true story… One day I was going to take out the garbage out to the curb (30 ft walk) I was getting ready to walk out my door and didn’t want to put my shoes on just to run out real quickly. something just came over me and told me to put my shoes on, I did it. I walked outside and halfway to the curb I stepped on a 4 inch giant rusty nail which went into my shoe and bent at a 90 degree angle. It didn’t even touch my foot. Its some instances like this where I think about if people have some subtle ability or like a sixth sense to help you avoid danger if your just aware of your mind and not littered with the constant bullshit distractions in life. I don’t know what to call it, but I was just in disbelief, that i received a warning somehow, Because that nail would of Hurt like hell.

    • Linda Gabriel

      Yes, it’s true that we have a subtle ability. Studies show that our bodies will exhibit signs of danger long before the thought becomes conscious. In your case precognition was involved. In Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book Blink he describes an experiment with cards where electrodes on the skin showed that subjects hands “knew” which card would pay off better (or worse) without their conscious awareness. You make a good point about the distractions that get in the way of our innate knowing. Glad you missed that nail!

  • Great points, Linda. That little voice is always going on in my head but, like you say, we are not our thoughts. That brain is busy! lol

    Sometimes I let it have its way, though. Like today I had to ponder a solution to a problem, and on and on it went, hashing over this and that aspect and solution, pros and cons. Finally we came up with something that felt right to “me” 🙂

    The brain–and The Little Voice–is a tool, not our master, unless we let it be master.
    .-= Leah McClellan´s last blog ..Bullies Aren’t Born That Way–They’re Made =-.

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