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Adopting an inner narrative means that we learn to say things to ourselves which we pick up from other people. Mostly, these statements come from an “I” point of view. For example, “I can’t do anything right,” or, “I am not lovable anyway,” or, “I am worthless.” Though we may not hear these statements directly, we might hear them indirectly. However we are saying them to ourselves, they are always an “I” statement. If other people were to say the things to us we say to ourselves, they would likely hurt a lot more. Part of the reason we say negative statements to ourselves is because we were hurt so deeply when someone said them to us.

An important part of change is awareness. Awareness means noticing and paying attention. In the case of negative inner narrative statements, awareness would mean becoming aware of these statements when they arise and noticing how they sound, who they sound like, and how they make you feel.It might be challenging to catch them at first. Every now and then when you do catch a negative narrative statement, quickly change it to a “you” statement. Pretend you are someone on the outside directing that statement towards you. Is that something you would want to hear from someone else? Notice how uncomfortable that situation feels. Pay attention to the shift in energy and your feelings. Next, take the exercise a step further and imagine turning that “you” statement toward someone else, like your dearest friend or favorite family member. Imagine their face as you would say that to them. They would likely be hurt and you would feel guilty for putting such toxic energy on them.

This exercise isn’t about creating guilt or making you feel guilty for what is going on inside your head.Everyone has an inner voice and everyone experiences it negatively until they learn to change it.

Identifying the origin of the narrative

Negative behaviors like a punishing inner narrative can quickly become habit. Habits become so routine that we adopt them as normal. Until we start to become aware of our negative inner narrative, we assume them to be normal. As you start to notice more about your negative thoughts and become more familiar with them, pay attention to anything that sounds familiar. You might notice a tone of voice- yes, our inner narratives have a tone of voice!- that sounds eerily like one of your parents, a schoolteacher, or maybe even a bully from the past. Quickly, you’ll find that these negative perspectives were not of your own making, but originate from a negative experience in life. Unraveling the mystery of your inner narrative, you can let go of them piece by piece to create a more compassionate, kind, and loving, voice.

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