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.

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