How Can I Move Forward if I Can’t Trust My Inner Voice?

I have come to understand that it takes me a lot of time to process most decisions. It’s not that I don’t understand them – it’s that my mind needs time to explore and analyze the issue from different viewpoints, possible understandings – it needs to ask further questions. People don’t really like this. In the hustle and bustle of life, having someone hesitate to react, to want time to think things over, doesn’t settle well. Still, I am trying to quell my initial response. What may feel like anger when a friend does not react as supportive as I want, turns out to be fear that they may not love me. My feelings and choices, therefore, change drastically.

Well, that’s one way of looking at it. I mean, that’s what I tell people and what I try to tell myself. But the truth is: I am terrified that no matter how much I process something, my answer will be wrong. And I have begun to realize that perhaps part of this “processing” has to do with the events from my past that have made me constantly question my choices, feelings, and thoughts. I worry that the processing might not be me trying to find the truth, but rather trying to push aside the doubts and the voices that tell me contradictory, “truthful” answers.

Since I was a child, people have told me that I am over-sensitive; I think too much; I over-exagerrate the impact of things; that my memories are embellished and magnified; that the things that happened as a child didn’t really happen the way I felt them happen. In short, that what I think and feel is wrong, misguided, naive, and warped. This all was supported by my low self-esteem, and growing depression and anxiety.

I stopped trusting my decisions. I forced myself into situations I did not want to be in; I pushed my feelings down; and I hated myself and felt so ashamed and disgusted at myself for even feeling what I felt. I lost all trust in my abilities to make decisions, to know the right thing to do – whether it is how to feel about what someone has done; how to react to something; what life decisions are “right” for me; if it’s okay to make decisions others think are wrong, etc.

I still constantly question what I feel. I wonder, is this real? Am I making this up? Why would I make it up? Am I being reasonable? Is this okay? Am I being a baby? What is the difference between what I feel and what is real? I question my choices because I question the validity of my inner voice.

I question choices as simple as what to eat or what to wear, as well as large decisions like what step I should take in my life. I have so many voices in my head telling me completely different “truths” while questioning each one of them. It’s like they are all yelling their answers at me and getting in side arguments with each other – in my head; at the same time; while I am trying to decide whether to leave the house or not. It’s exhausting.

It leaves me wondering which voice is authentic. Which one is “right,” and which one is trying to somehow lead me to ruin and self-sabotage. I get so far in my head about what is in my head, I find myself frozen, confused, panicked. In the past, I think alcohol helped slow my thinking down; allowed me to make decisions without actually feeling whether or not it was what I wanted – just doing whatever others wanted. It was a way of temporarily fleeing from the chaos of fear and failure that I felt constantly.

They say that in all real relationships you need trust. But if you can’t trust yourself, I don’t think you can trust anyone. I want to believe I trust people, but I constantly imagine what they must be really thinking in their head. They say they love me, that they understand, that they support my decisions; but maybe it’s actually disappointment, forced sympathy, perhaps adulation in hopes of getting what they really want. Which one is it? Is one simply what I want to believe? Should I trust what I feel? Or am I being naive, trying to believe something because it’s what I want to be truth. How do you know which “truth” is right?

If without trust you cannot have intimacy, authenticity, depth, love, or truth in a relationship, where does that leave me – with both myself and others? How do I move forward? How do I let people into my life and believe they are there because they sincerely want to be? How do I stop freezing up with every decision because I have lost the connection between what I feel and what I think? I believe that is the core of the problem. If your inner truth is found through mind and body, and you no longer trust your emotions, thoughts, or feelings, how do you make a decision?

This component of self-hate has stifled so much of my life and led me into traumatic events which I now have to face. It’s frightening and I’m scared.

At least I think I am.

8 thoughts on “How Can I Move Forward if I Can’t Trust My Inner Voice?

  1. I got a little chuckle out of your last sentence. Again, even though you are a much better writer than I, I could have written this piece myself. I know exactly what you mean. I go through this too. Trying to change it with people from a little exercise I had with my therapist. I was whining about how I feel uncomfortable in a group of people. She asked me her standard question, “what’s the worst thing that could happen”. Well, you know maybe they won’t like me…blah, blah. Then she asked me if that is what I do. Do I judge other people? Never, and I try to remember that every time I have to trust a friend or be in a group. Most people really mean what they say.

    • Ah, the “what’s the worst thing that can happen” question. i know it’s logical but it’s so irritating sometimes. i guess to some extent i know that i mean what i say, or at least have good intent behind it, but i have had experiences where that was not the case so much growing up, i’m just having a hard time believing that people change. sometimes i wonder if i was just with the wrong crowd of people, and that maybe it’s about who you surround yourself with. right now, i don’t surround myself with anyone really, so i guess i won’t know until i actually get out around ppl. ugh. ;)

      • I grew up with friends who were twins, they had friends who were twins, and when they came to play I was sent home. Just because I wasn’t a twin Plus I was always teased about my red hair and my name. It later moved onto my skinny legs. Then, as I got older and received more compliments on “actually being smart”, and my physical traits, I couldn’t and still have problems believing the positive.

      • Funny how those things, which now would be seen as “asserts” to be envied, were the things they teased you about. I think it says something about how women are treated in society, i.e. “Actually being smart” but it sounds a lot like jealousy. It amazes me the impact, the pain and insecurity burned into our brains so early on that even when we grow up n ppl try to tell us they like something, we can’t shake it. As for the twins-where were the mothers? To be honest, when I think of all the mean stuff kids did, I think abt the parents. Theirs, my own…

      • The mothers were aware, my mom made sure of it. Maybe it happened a couple of times but once was enough to impact me for life. I’m working through it but I’ve always had a problem with a group of friends. I always feel as if I’m on the outside. I know I do it to myself, but just as everything else, I’m a work in progess

      • Well I like what you’ve done with “it” so far. :)

        I’m the same way internally-worried all the time but I end up running the group so when I tell ppl they’re always confused. I guess I emit “confidence” which is really just terror and insecurity.

        And yes, I’m learning that while PTSD is very specific, trauma itself can be very subjective in terms of its’ impact. It’s just an intense word.

      • I’ve always been “followed”, as if I’m a leader. My bosses always wanted to make me supervisors/managers and I never wanted the jobs. I have often wondered why other people see so much more in me than I do. Terror and insecurity describes what I feel pretty well.

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