Before taking our father to an outpatient surgery to remove a skin cancer from his forearm, my sister approached me and asked, “What will we do if they amputate Dad’s arm?” I did my best to reassure her there was an extremely low, almost impossible, chance of dad losing his arm. I thanked her for taking dad, and then I told her she was doing something I’m guilty of. She was building a bridge before she got to the river. In other words, worrying about something that hasn’t happened and isn’t likely to happen. She was being influenced by her inner voice. She said, “I’m my father’s daughter.”

My sister is certainly her father’s daughter as I am his son. All of us have an inner voice that warns of possible danger and attempts to convince us to avoid anything that may harm us.

Our inner voice may not speak to us in words but through feelings and moods. It may feel like intuition. Sometimes it tells us we’re not good enough; at times it will jump to conclusions about potential danger, and at other times warn us away from people and activities.

Where Does our Inner Voice Come From?

Where does our inner voice come from? There’s no universally agreed upon theory. I believe our inner voice is a survival adaptation to warn us of potential dangers and harm. However, in today’s world, this adaptation may do more harm than good.

“Too often we jump to conclusions, only to cause ourselves and others unnecessary worry, hurt, and anger. If someone says one thing, don’t assume they mean something else. If they say nothing at all, don’t assume their silence has some hidden, negative connotation” — “4 Ways to Quiet the Negative Voice Inside You.”

Our inner voice often leads us astray through faulty logic, and poor decision making, which can become, “What will we do if they amputate dad’s arm?”

“The critical inner voice is defined as a well-integrated pattern of negative thoughts toward one’s self and others that is at the root of an individual’s maladaptive behavior.” — Psychology Today

What Can You do About it?

What can you do? A few years ago I read Dr. Jill Boltle Taylor’s amazing story, “My Stroke of Insight” about her journey back from a devastating stroke. At one point she shares how she learned to say thank you, but no thank you to her inner voice. Since reading about her strategy, I’ve learned to say no to my inner demons. Although I’m not always successful at shutting it off, I’ve made progress.  It’s something anyone can do. Thank you, but no thank you. Thank you for trying to protect me, but no thank you—I got this.

“Now that you have identified that your critical inner voice is advising you, what is it trying to get you to do? When you pinpoint the actions that it is advocating, you can take control over your critical inner voice. You can consciously decide to take action against its directives, thereby acting in your own interest.” — Psych Alive: “Critical Inner Voice.”

Dad’s Arm Wasn’t Amputated

My father is recovering nicely. A one-inch circle of skin was removed from his forearm and covered with a skin graft from his shoulder. The doctor didn’t have to amputate his forearm. I’m not making light of this or my sister’s concerns because I do the same every day. And every day I have to stop and consider where my inner voice is taking me, and then take a deep breath and say, thanks but no thanks.