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Chatting to Your Darkside

26th August 2011


Let’s face it, we all chat to ourselves in various ways with conversations within our heads. These conversations can be just mundane or they can be helpful, motivating, inspiring and energising. For the people coming to see me though they are having conversations within which are very unhelpful, berating, judgemental, teasing, sneering, angry and frustrated.

Have you ever stopped to listen to your inner voice and how it can make you feel?

Some clients are very surprised when they do this and how they can even actually visualise the owner of their voice which is a part of them they usually at war with.

Here are some examples of the angry inner voice:

You are nothing
No-one likes you
You will end up alone and with nothing
You are stupid

The natural reaction is to continue the war and fight the owner until they either disappear or are pulverised into submission somehow. Yet fighting with this part of yourself just continues a war no-one is likely to win, so what can you do differently?

The Yin Yang symbol is a great example of what we could focus on. Yin yang are complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. This dynamic system in my view is you and if you try to fight or suppress the dark side in favour of what you view as the light side you are creating an imbalance within that causes imbalance in the way you interact with the world.

What could you do differently?

I say embrace your dark part, explore what they are trying to do for you that has a positive intention. Most clients report that their angry dark part is trying to protect them or get them noticed but it’s intention has got distorted. Often the negative behaviour worked in childhood but as an adult the tantrum or destructive behaviour is no longer appropriate but is repeated as they don’t know how to do something else.

Therapy is brilliant at helping to negotiate with that dark part and find out what it’s intention is and what it could be doing instead. It’s not happy and would love to be, which is a great motivator to explore what else it could help you with.

Maybe you could sit and imagine that dark part which causes you problems and maybe you could help calm it down and learn to relax. Therapist Andrew Austin mentioned in one workshop imagining massaging the dark parts shoulders and speaking softly to help that part chill out. This has worked wonders with clients as they calm the parts of themselves which are in pain, angry, frustrated or negative in other ways.

Also pay more attention to that critical voice within and experiment with it:

Can you imagine your inner voice changing?

Could it be quieter?

What would happen if you rehearsed that negative inner speak in a totally different voice inside your head?

Something different has to happen next and that’s worth paying attention to.

Paul Sheppard is The Life Doctor and is available for therapy sessions online or in his office in Brighton and Hove, East Sussex.