How to Change The Voice Inside Your Head
Depression is usually reinforced and entrenched by the thoughts we think and the way we speak to ourselves in our heads. We often think we can power through depression with willpower and force when in fact kindness can help shift depression more effectively and more permanently. Cultivating a kind inner parent is what we need to navigate the unhelpful thoughts that are some version of "I'm not good enough". Practically speaking, here's how you cultivate a loving internalized parental voice:
What You'll Need
- Two empty chairs and some privacy. A notepad.
What You'll Do
- 1) Make sure you have 2 empty chairs and a bit of privacy.
- 2) Sit in the first chair and just let yourself vent or moan or cry or get angry. Don't edit or rationalize. This is your chance to let it all out. Extra brownie points if you have a sense of how old you feel in this place i.e. is it your 15 year old self crying or your 9 year old self?
- 3) Move into the second chair and now picture yourself as a loving adult/parent. As that adult, what would you say to a child/teen who's just reeled off/cried/screamed about how awful they, the world, their life is. How would you respond? Be empathic. E.g. "I really get why you're feeling so angry/sad/hopeless right now....I really appreciate your honesty...".
- 4) Move back into the first chair and access the "Inner child" again? How does he/she respond? Don't fake this. If an unhappy teen shows up screaming "you don't get it and this exercise is pointless" go with that.
- 5) Switch back to the loving parent in the second chair. What would a loving/helpful parent say?
- Keep going back and forth. Yes, you'll feel rather odd doing this exercise but you're also learning to parent the parts of you that are young and struggling who just need to be listened to, loved and guided.
Tips & Warnings
- - If you can't face switching seats physically, you can also just write out the dialogues in a notepad. It may be less effective than saying it out loud, but it's a first step if you're feeling self conscious.
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