How I Silence the Anxious Voice in My Head
I hear an anxious voice in my head. The voice I hear is not related to psychosis, but speaks to me loudly and clearly nevertheless. The anxious voice in my head belongs to anxiety, and its running commentary on what I'm doing wrong never seems to shut up.
The anxious voice harps at me incessantly. I don’t experience it as an actual sound, a hallucination, but I definitely “hear” it as inner speech. Anxiety makes my mind think certain things and tell me those things in no uncertain terms and thus acts as an actual voice, not of reason, but of fear.
The Anxious Voice in My Head Is Self-Talk
For someone living with anxiety, the voice—or anxious self-talk—can be overbearing. For me, as I work at my computer writing this column or a blog on my website or my novel, my brain is concentrating on what I’m doing, but there is the anxious voice in my head that chatters on simultaneously with my other thoughts. As I tap, tap, tap on my keyboard, anxiety tells me “this is stupid and horrible.” As I sit in a meeting, anxiety shouts at me, “you’re not acting right; you’re too quiet, too talkative, too not good enough.” As I’m watching one of my kids’ sporting events, my anxiety tells me that something is going to go horribly wrong.
And on it goes. No matter what I’m doing, anxiety babbles and rants at me.
This inner mental chatter is very common in anxiety disorders. Because each individual is different, the voice of anxiety sounds a bit different for each person. There are, however, common themes among anxiety’s blather.
Worry and fear can be similar. They are different degrees of the what-ifs that seem to exist as a stream-of-consciousness in people living with anxiety. Anxiety’s obsessive voices won’t let us let go of a thought. It’s challenging to move past an obsessive thought when anxiety keeps talking to you about it, isn’t it? Self-criticism is another common theme among those who live with anxiety. Anxiety likes to bully people, talking to us ad nauseam over every single fault we have.
Quieting the Anxious Voice in Your Head
You don’t have to be badgered by anxiety’s voices for the rest of your life. To borrow from Pink’s song “Perfect,” it is possible to change those voices in your head--possible, absolutely, but quick and easy, not so much. If you’ve ever attempted to put a child to bed, you might have noticed that he or she becomes a little chatterbox right at bedtime. Stories spill out and overflow. It seems that their little voices will never be quiet. Eventually, though, the voices stop talking. So it is with anxiety and its voices. Here are a few tips:
- Ignore anxiety’s words. Sometimes, this actually works. If anxiety is telling you something worrisome, dismiss it and move on to a different thought.
- Find flow. Flow is a state of well-being in which one is fully immersed in what he/she is doing. Anything you enjoy can induce flow. When you’re in flow, you are thinking only of what you’re doing. Anxiety is quiet. Find a hobby you love, an activity, anything you can get lost in. When you’re lost in a positive way like this, anxiety’s voice can’t find you.
- If anxiety tells you something that increases your fear or an obsession, argue with it. Throw evidence to the contrary in its face. For example, every time you get into your car the voice of anxiety tells you you’re going to get into an accident, tell it, yes, accidents happen, but you’ve driven many times without them.
Anxiety likes to have a voice. It means it’s heard (by us) and it has power (over us). Good thing those voices in our heads can be silenced.
NCC, T. (2014, October 23). How I Silence the Anxious Voice in My Head, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/10/the-anxious-voice-in-my-head
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
If your boyfriend hasn't seen a doctor/psychiatrist about hearing voices, now might be the time to do so. A psychiatrist can evaluate him to learn what's happening and to help your boyfriend--and you--understand as well as take measures to decrease the voices as well as the anger. Also, if you ever feel threatened, call the police or visit the Domestic Violence Hotline: https://www.thehotline.org.
I'm sorry to read of your experiences, both with voices and with your girlfriend's temper. Have you seen a doctor (your general physician or a psychiatrist) or a therapist about the voices. If you're hearing voices that berate you and put you down, it could be the sign of something serious that treatment can help. Additionally, if you and your girlfriend would like to communicate without becoming angry, couples counseling could help with that. Also, seeking help for the voices could help, too.
Your experience with your voices sounds miserable. The fact that you have a mental health team you can call and are looking for information to help quiet the voices tells me that you're strong and persistent. Those are great qualities. Keep at it. Even if voices don't completely go away, you can gain the upper hand and lessen the effect they have on you. Your mental health team can be a great help in this.
Bullying can have a long-term impact, as you're seeing with your daughter. If she is hearing someone telling her to harm herself, it's a very good idea to have her see a doctor or mental health professional for help. Figuring out where to start can be daunting. These resources might be helpful. Seeking professional help for your daughter could prevent self harm and help her heal.
Where to Find Mental Health Help: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/i-need-mental-help-where-to-find-mental-health-help
Types of Mental Health Doctors and How to Find One: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/types-of-mental-health-doctors-and-how-to-find-one
Types of Mental Health Counselors: Finding a Good One: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/types-of-mental-health-counselors-finding-a-good-one
I'm glad that this information is helpful. Have you considered seeing a therapist? There are mental health professionals who are great at helping people get out of their head. It might be something to consider. This resource provides information for how to find mental health help: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/i-need-mental-help-where-to-find-mental-health-help
There are different types of voices. Some are related to anxiety, while others are related to different types of obsessions or psychotic disorders (which can involve hallucinations like hearing voices.) The nature of the voices can be hard to determine sometimes, but working with a doctor can help. If you are bothered by the voices, you might find it good to see a doctor or a therapist. There are people that can help.
The experience of "voices" is unique to each person. For me, it represents my own self-talk, so it's the experience of my own voice. Sometimes when it becomes a separate voice it might (but not always) be considered a form of psychosis (psychosis just means experiencing hallucinations or delusions -- things that aren't real but are interpreted as real). If it becomes bothersome, you might consider checking it out with a doctor or mental health professional just to see what's going on and determine a plan for minimizing it.