Your internal voices are usually lies.


Lies or truth? Overcoming the voices in your head
Your voices will lie to you. They will distort reality and cause you to live in a state of fear rather than a state of grace. (Click to Tweet)

WARNING: Most of the following is an excerpt from my personal journal and might make you think I am crazy. I can live with that.

Jon Acuff writes in his book Start about his counselor, Al Andrews, who asked him:

What do your voices tell you?

Al states that:

No one has a positive voice.

Well that is a comforting thought.

I am finally realizing how deceptive our voices are. In fact, they might be rooted in the seeds of evil. This is a terrifying thought.

Both sides of the coin

Not only do your voices lie, but they manipulate you, twist the truth, and even make you believe the lies. And the worst thing they do is cause you to live out two opposing lies, eventually believing them both.

That’s what I’ve experienced in my life.

My voice tells me:

You’re only where you are (career, marriage, finances, health) because of dumb luck.

This is the first lie.

The second lie is even more devilish: Publicly I act like I got here all by myself, that I made it to where I am because of hard work, determination, grit, and my own superhuman intelligence. (I never said I was what one might call “humble”)

If my voice says I shouldn’t be here at all, then the only way to counteract that is to claim sole responsibility for making it here.

Both are lies.

How can I live with either of those burdens?

There’s nothing I can do.

It all depends on me.

I am helpless.

What if others find out?

Those are too heavy for anyone to carry.

Not to mention that both extremes are extremely unattractive. Helpless people are a drag and arrogant, know-it-all jerks are…well, jerks.


The reality is I am where I am because of:

God’s blessing.

God’s purpose for me.

Hard work.

The help of others.

All of those are connected and reliant on each other.

Your voices will lie to you. They will distort reality and cause you to live in a state of fear rather than a state of grace.

Overcoming your voices

Acuff has two suggestions to overcome your voices. They are the two that led me to share this.

  1. Put them in writing. Show your fears the light of day. You will quickly realize, as I did, how wrong they are. When you put them on paper, they might make you laugh at their ridiculousness. “You’re too old for this.” “You’re too young for that.” You will see their tricks and find hope in shedding the burdens of their lies.
  2. Share them. Your lying voices hate the positive input of others. As Acuff says, “Fear hates community.” Allow others to speak truth into your life and drown out the voices in your head.

What do your voices say? How can others help?

Share yours below and allow others here to support you as you overcome your negative voices.

Read my review of Start by Jon Acuff

29 thoughts on “The Voices in Your Head

  1. Carol Dublin says:

    Journaling is such a great way to expose those voices. Mine generally tell me things like I’m not good enough, who am I to think I can do that, and there are others so much better than me so why should I try. It’s hard to talk back to them sometimes, but so necessary. So healthy to say – yes I can do that – and then do it! Doesn’t quiet the voices next time but at least builds on the confidence to keep trying. Great post Matt!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I’ve never been a huge fan of journaling…it feels more like a duty than a joy to me, but when I do, some interesting stuff comes out.

      1. Carol Dublin says:

        I agree – not my favorite thing to do, but it does seem to help process things. I’ve only recently started, but sometimes I get my best ideas when i just let my fingers type.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I remember that from college. It was brand new back them (1997-98) though. I’ll have to check it out again.

      1. Back when I was in college Freud was giving lectures. ha

      2. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        Back when I was in college…wait, that was only like 4 years ago…

  2. Mark Sieverkropp says:

    Hmmm, what do my internal voices tell me? You’re too young. you don’t have any experience. its too hard. what makes you think YOU could do that?? You aren’t good enough. You’ll just fail anyways.
    Need I go on? haha. It is amazing when you get them out and write them how many there are…and how many you never really knew were there. Thanks for helping me realize how screwed up I am Matt, you’re a pal! 😉 haha.
    Great post.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      It’s a gift Mark.

      1. Mark Sieverkropp says:

        a gift in general, or just one that you give to me personally??? haha

  3. Kathy Leicester says:

    The voice changes to whatever message will make me feel SHAME. Shame for trying to dream, shame for not being content, shame for striving, shame for doing nothing.

    My first wicked ugly memory is of being ashamed because I was too scared to stay with my Aunt and Uncle to learn to ride horses that summer.

    Want an eye-opener? Visit the website Jon invites you to, to share your voices if you don’t have anyone to talk to: http://www.nomorevoices.com/

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Thanks for the link Kathy. I’ve been there and it’s haunting on the one hand, but it somehow reminds me of hearing a story of abuse…it’s sickening to know what someone went through, but powerful to hear about their redemption.

  4. Lily Kreitinger says:

    I realize that I need to comment on this topic among people who have read “Start” or follow the same thought-leaders. I don’t want to share with many people that my friends and I hear voices. HA!!

    As I read that part of Start, my thoughts went in the same direction. The voices are evil and they lie. They are rooted in messages we received from others in our upbringing.

    I had an interesting conversation this weekend with a man who has adopted four children born from drug-addicted mothers. They all have been affected by prenatal drug abuse. He explained that its very common for these kids to have what’s called “reactive attachment disorder”. Basically they learn before 18 months old that they cannot trust anyone and they have to survive on their own. They learn that no one really cares about them, due to the neglect they experienced as infants.

    I compare that to “the voices”. Someone in our life told us that we are not good enough, talented enough, smart enough… and we believed that lie.

    When you allow yourself to listen to those messages and confront them with truth. the voices get scared and go find someone else.

    Very powerful post!

    1. Steve Pate says:

      well done Lily! thanks for sharing this!

    2. Matt McWilliams says:

      Wow. I had never heard of that Lily.

      Thanks for sharing.

  5. Bob Winchester says:

    I have two sets of voices. 1.) The ones that tell me I’m not good enough, that I should be ashamed, that I should just give up. 2.) The ones that help me dream, that tell me I can do anything if I put my mind to it, that help me to achieve.

    Experiences influence both of these voices. So does emotion. Sometimes even the weather can make a difference.

    I read another post this morning (short) that very much relates to this topic over at Jon Gordon’s blog:


    He basically says to talk to yourself instead of listening to yourself. Feed yourself with positive affirmations, phrases, scripture, etc. I’ve personally found this kind of thing very helpful!

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      “…talk to yourself instead of listening to yourself.”

      I love that Bob!

      I will admit that I’ve held back doing this for some time because I thought people would think it was corny…that’s right…I cared what others thought of what I was going to do…in our basement 24 feet below my wife and daughter…at 5:30 in the morning…with the doors and windows closed.


      But I have written out my statements and I know that if I say them long enough, I will believe them and my words will become my voices.

      Thanks Bob!

    2. Steve Pate says:

      I can relate to that Bob! Well put and thanks for sharing, I needed that reminder to make sure to talk positive to my self out loud.

    3. Carol Dublin says:

      I love the idea of talk to yourself instead of listen to yourself. Definitely need to put that into practice!

      1. Bob Winchester says:

        Thanks Carol! You just made me think of something else here…

        Many of us that have connected through Matt or Chris also have our own blogs. It seems to me that in a way, by writing out our thoughts, we are talking to ourselves.

        I know that numerous times, I’ve either commented or written a post that has forced me to think through something which in turn helped me to change my mind.

        So, my point is that writing can be as good as or even better than reading or listening. I guess a good mixture is probably best.

        Have a great night!!!

      2. Matt McWilliams says:

        When I write, I am usually writing at least a little to myself!

      3. Carol Dublin says:

        Bob – I think you are right. I sometimes write one point of view one week, and then a week or two later write about the complete opposite – because I’ve processed it through the writing and realized my true feelings. So I totally agree with you!

  6. Steve Pate says:

    “who really does want my skills?”,”Your not as good as you think you are!” Those half truth voices some times work their way in. In fact the second quote was actually spoken to me and that one was a hard to shake off.

    But because of God’s voice through his body, I was shown that person’s opinion was nothing more than just an opinion.

    Lately, I’ve retrained my head thinking, to stop arguing with the person (in my head) i’m having a conflict with and start asking questions(aka QBQ) that would help me approach my team member. By no means I’m perfect with this yet, but it does help.

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      I hope you don’t hang out much with that second person Steve!

      Choose your friends wisely.

      1. Steve Pate says:

        oh no..great guy poor leader, plus, that is what he said when he fired me! I laugh at that now but it comes up when I’m drained.

    2. Bob Winchester says:

      Hey Steve! This reminds me of another dangerous foe in the “who to listen to carefully” department…family.

      I love my family, but they have a history of nay-saying anything I do that doesn’t fit into their understanding of the world. That means blogging, podcasting, leadership, consulting, good sci-fi movies, etc. Those just happen to be the things I’m most interested in. Yikes!

      I guess we have to be careful where our input comes from no matter who or what the source is.

      Yes, I said sci-fi. =)

      1. Steve Pate says:

        Man right on Bob! Hate to say, a song comes to mined, “Parents just don’t understand”-Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff…yes I went there!

        Filtering what comes in is a must! Thanks brother

  7. Jon Stolpe says:

    “Finally, brothers and
    sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
    whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything
    is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

    It starts here. We’ve got to retrain our brains. God is on our side.

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