Many, if not all of us, have multiple conversations at once...one "on the outside" with a person that we are talking to, and one or more "on the inside" where one is evaluating what is happening, and giving oneself feedback on what is happening.

Those with low self esteem in particular know what I'm talking about.  These are a few examples of the "inner conversations" that can occur inside of people:

  • "I can't believe I said that.  What was I thinking? She's going to really know how much of a loser I am."
  • to self, "What do you think you're doing here?  You know you have no business thinking you can pass this course."
  • to self, "Everybody thinks you're ugly.  Why do you even try to look good?  There are no clothes manufactured that could look pretty on you."
  • " I can't do it"
  • "Why am I surprised or hurt she said she was too busy to go for a drink with me.  What was I thinking that someone would actually want to hang out with me?"

Some of these internal conversations happen so often, it's like they are on tape, and the tapes rewind and replay over and over at various point in the day.  By the end of the day, a person just wants to curl up in the corner and withdraw from people so as not to have to rise above the internal conversations which are so painful and feel so destructive.

This is a difficult way to live. 

It's hard when the internal messages that repeat themselves are negative and critical.  Devaluing oneself takes a terrible toll on a soul, and there are "ripple effects" in which a person begins to feel anxious at times, avoids certain situations in which they find their self esteem particularly beaten, or becomes less able to engage with people in life-giving ways.  When a person pulls away and finds themselves unable to cheerfully engage others, there is less response from others, which can reinforce the low self esteem.  And the cycle begins, where a person with low self esteem feels even worse about themselves because they aren't doing the sorts of things that have a person feel good about themselves.  It is a vicious cycle which can benefit from "external interruption"...something that stops the downward spiral.

Finding out about the creation of those inner negative tapes, finding out what possible purpose they have in being there, and seeing if there is another way of addressing what those internal tapes are all about is something that often happens in counselling.