Practical Advice

Understanding Your Voices

The following article was written by one of our Support Group Facilitators and was published in our May 2009 newsletter. 

Distraction techniques such as the use of MP3 players can be helpful to relieve distress from voices. But to be able to take control of your voices, you must accept that there is some link with yourself. Once this happens you start to take responsibility for your recovery and can start to work out the meaning of the voices. I would like to share some of my insights with you in the hope they may help to do this.

Voices can be similar to dreams and nightmares. You can have good and bad experiences, which can be very profound and very real. Some people describe hearing voices like dreaming when awake. Interestingly one of the triggers for psychosis is sleep deprivation. Just as in dreams the voices can be presented in a symbolic way that makes it hard to see the association with ourselves. The voices may have larger than life personas that exaggerate the emotion involved making it hard to understand, just as Shakespeare tells stories that portray common themes and emotions, but we have to see past the costume and language before we can understand what is happening.

Voices can be related to emotional issues or traumas that we are dealing with in the present, or in the past.  For example, a job loss, may create voices that make you feel powerless – encouraging conspiracy theories. Scenarios where you are being ganged up on and can’t do anything about it. A relationship break up may cause voices that tell us we are ugly, unlovable, mirroring our own low self esteem in the aftermath.

Voices can be related to significant events that happened in our past that we have suppressed the memory of in order to cope or have visited so often in our minds that it creates a “mini series” playing all the scenarios we may have taken.

Voices can relate to events in the future that we are worried about, or that reflect the path on which we are heading, good or bad.

Some voices offer spiritual guidance and comfort. Clairvoyants, shamans, gurus and many cultures communicate with spirits, power animals, angels, ancestors, deities, spiritual masters.

Voices may be people we know alive or dead. This can be confusing. You may think you are being telepathically attacked by another. Whilst telepathy is possible, especially between people who are close. It can also be the voices showing you the way you feel about that person. Or using the relationship (however large or small) you have or had with that person, to show you something you need to learn about yourself. So it always best to be skeptical. For example, it may be a voice of someone we hardly knew that “didn’t like us”. Hearing it can be a symbol of the stigma or rejection issues common when hearing voices. It is advisable to examine your feelings about the person first and see if there is anything you need to address yourself. If you know them well enough, you may be able to talk to them about it. If it is a friendly voice, ask the voice to prove it is actually the person by telling you physically by phone or in person. Always use your good judgment. If you dreamt of someone you wouldn't accuse them of visiting you in person? But you may work out why you dreamt of them at all.

If you are hearing spirits, please remember – because someone is dead it does not make them an expert on your life. Or more powerful than you. Use your discernment at all times.

Voices can become worse when we have a physical illness or are stressed.Just as some people hallucinate with a fever. Take note if this appears so, the voices may be a way of telling you to look after your health better. Research links voices to food allergies and nutritional deficiencies.

Voices can be our own self talk amplified. Mimicing everything we are feeling and making us feel like we are watched. It can be a mirror of our own negative thoughts about ourself. This is an opportunity to see what you have been feeling about yourself good and bad and start working on liking yourself warts and all.

Voices can mirror the “energy” and emotions of other people you come in contact with. Some voice hearers are very sensitive and try isolating themselves to overcome this. Unfortunately prolonged isolation can exasperate the voices.  Activities such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, can be helpful to clear energies and strengthen the self.  It may be the voices showing you that you need to set more boundaries in your relationships in the physical world. Take a more active role in what you want in your life.

I look at it like something has unlocked the cupboard of your unconscious mind and everything has spilled out all over the place. As a result you have to look over it all, see what to keep, what to throw away, then fit what remains back into the cupboard of your life. Good luck with yours!

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