V is for Visceral Voices

When I say visceral voices, I mean thoughts, your inner monologue or self-talk. The thought processes that occur so naturally that you often over look them. Often in anxiety and depression these visceral voices lean towards the negative. You have to take the time to learn to recognize when you are having a negative thought and challenge it.

When I think of negative self-talk, I imagine the angel and the devil on my shoulders battling it out. But what if it was more complex than that? According to Edmund Bourne’s Anxiety and Phobia workbook, there are four main types of negative-self talk; the victim, the worrier, the critic and the perfectionist. I can see components of all 4 personas in my internal monologue. No wonder the angel is often overwhelmed, the odds are 4 to 1!

The Angel and The Devil

The Angel and The Devil


The Victim. Characterized by feelings of hopelessness, the victim usually contributes to both anxiety and depression. I give myself anxiety by telling myself that I’m not making enough progress, that I’m not smart enough to complete the task at hand. Depression comes from the sense of being unworthy. I will never achieve my goals, nor do I deserve to. It’s the everything sucks and will never get better attitude. I don’t intend to have this attitude, in fact, I don’t want it. It’s just so subtle and innate that I don’t realize I’m doing it until I reflect on the situation.

The Worrier. Anxiety is created by imagining the worst-case scenario and anticipating embarrassment and/or failure. The worrier is always apprehensive and on the lookout for trouble. I know I do this. My reasoning is that I want to be prepared and able to handle the worst-case scenario, but in doing this I create dread, so I’m not really doing myself any favours.

The Critic. This voice promotes low self-esteem. I am constantly comparing myself to others, evaluating my behaviour and magnifying my mistakes. This makes me feel like a failure most of the time.

The Perfectionist. A state of chronic stress is created by thinking nothing is ever good enough, I should be working harder, I should always have everything under control. I am only worth the sum of my external achievements.

4 to 1

To combat these attitudes, I’ve been told to give myself positive counter-statements. Sounds easy, logical. The problem is getting myself to believe the positive talk. I’m hoping an open mind and some repetition will do it.

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. christy barongan
    Apr 25, 2014 @ 09:51:18

    I have those parts, too.


  2. emmyleigh
    Apr 25, 2014 @ 15:06:09

    Once when my inner voice was complaining I let her say it all. I wrote it all down – it’s in a blog post somewhere. In the end she just ran out of steam and calmed down, and I could answer her rationally. Once she’d got all her fears out in the open she felt so much better.


  3. Birgit
    Apr 25, 2014 @ 22:24:45

    Hmmmm-I can relate to all four well all 3 as I never thought I was a perfectionist and didn’t care about that but worrier? Critic-oh my I have that in spades and have to always try the self talk and then I say screw it and have a good cry and watch something on TV to clear the bad crap


  4. somberscribbler
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 08:31:24

    Self-talk is the best way to go I think. I have to write it down or it doesn’t work for me. Sometimes the negativity is just too much and only distraction will do. A good cry and some feel good movies never hurt!


  5. Stephanie Scott
    May 05, 2014 @ 11:15:51

    I’ve done a bit of training this area in college and right after, but it’s still really tough to silence those negative voices. I’ve heard the spiritual spin on this too with filling your mind with uplifting, positive things (Bible verses, prayer for others, etc.) Whichever way you look at, we are often our worst critics and need to find some grace for ourselves!


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