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Have you ever experienced such a similar scenario as the ones written below before?

You are in class and unable to understand what your professor is saying, and from the abyss of your mind comes an unapologetic judgment, “This is so boring!”.

You are trying to catch the train to school in the wee hour of the morning only to have a lovey-dovey couple blocking your way, making your annoyed self just want to shout - “Oh my god!”

You are following the latest Netflix trend, and as you are approaching the last episode of the popular acclaimed Squid Game (no spoilers), you cannot help but release a long sentimental sigh, “Why~”.

As you are currently reading this sentence, there is a voice within yourself reciting everything that you have just seen. Do you not find it strange? And then yes, now! Your voice goes up a little bit higher with a hint of paranoia as you ask yourself that very question. No, stop reading my mind! And yes! Again, the tone of your voice morphed strongly into one of unwillingness.

What exactly is this inner voice you are experiencing?

Firstly, it has many different names: private speech, internal dialogue, or even “that voice in my head”. However, for the sake of convenience, we will just call it “inner voice” for now.

Secondly, the inner voice is often a reflection of oneself. Your voice will not in any way sound foreign or alien to you. Rather, your inner voice is simply reiterative – it is what you are born with and grow with, and it always has something to say.

Thirdly, from a rather scientific point of view, the inner voice is a product of your brain mechanism. It is a psychological phenomenon whereby a discourse similar to that of a subpersonality is developed. It acts as a commentary to help you perceive the world.

However, how does the inner voice help us?

The inner voice is normally linked to our psyche. Inner voice acts as a reality check for us as we navigate through our daily affairs. Through the vicissitudes and achievements of our life, our inner voice has accompanied us in many important decisions, constantly reminding us of our goals and other perspectives. However, as much as the inner voice is like a friend to us, giving us suggestions, sometimes it can be a double-edged sword.

Many a time, we felt discouraged to even attempt a challenge as our inner voice has critically made the verdict that we are unworthy. The inner voice can thus act as an amplifier – it magnifies both our strengths and weaknesses.

So, how do we develop a rather cordial relationship with our inner voice?

In all my years trying to talk to myself, I realize that as much as my inner voice is only a spiritual manifestation of my subpersonality, it is ultimately a mirror image of myself. The inner voice is the clearest and comprehensible when my mind is calm. As I go on every jog around the neighborhood, I find myself often having a conversation with myself as we enjoy the scenery and plan the schedule of the remaining day. Yet, there are times when my inner voice goes against me as it denounces my every being, adding to my insecurities. However, as I took time to talk to myself over a cup of coffee or a book, my inner voice wanes and begins a rather casual debate with me. As we seek for one another’s understanding, we begin to understand one another better. We begin to forgive one another for all the flaws, insecurities, and anxiety we have and reconcile.

Eventually, my inner voice is no longer foreign to me, and becomes a supportive brother. With every new challenge, I no longer hear squeaks of doubtfulness but rather, an unwavering and resounding, “Yes, you can.”

Perhaps, our inner voice is just a younger version of ourselves of which we need to continuously take care of and help develop.

Kuo Chuan is a Liberal Arts student at Waseda University. A coffee-indoctrinated life form.
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