BEING COMPASSIONATE TOWARDS VOICES
The idea of being compassionate towards voices, especially voices who say unkind or frightening things, might feel alien, untenable or even impossible. Equally, the idea of being compassionate towards oneself might feel unimaginable. Some people have survived traumas or adversities that have left profound marks. Others have been made to feel small or insignificant, sometimes by their own voices, and live with the pain of believing they are unworthy, shameful or toxic, monstrous or unloveable.
Being compassionate towards voices, could be seen as a journey, rather than a destination. Rather than aiming to be compassionate all of the time, the aim might be to shift the ground a little, to disturb or disrupt derogatory beliefs or feelings, or call them into question.
I am trying to learn to do this (talking with voices) but it is very new to me. I think it’s important for me to try and interact with the ‘voices’ as if I simply distract from them, it tends to make them ‘shout louder’. I try to tell the ‘voices’ that I’m listening, that I want to hear what they’re saying and try to understand that they’re there for a reason and to be compassionate about that reason. It’s definitely a work in progress – I find sometimes the ‘voices’ seem not to want to interact or I’m not able to be compassionate with them.
Engaging with the voices in a compassionate fashion can be useful. You figure out things about yourself you were unaware of, and sometimes you may not want to deal with but are probably going to have to at some point.
Find out more
Being kind to the voice: an excerpt from Run Ungar (2016). Some ideas about how to cope with voices. Recoveryfromschizophrenia.org.
‘The voices in my head’: a TED talk by Eleanor Longden.