My clients are often surprised to hear that most of us have some sort of internal dialogue going on. “Hearing voices in your head” does not necessarily mean you are going mad – it just means that you have become aware of your internal dialogue.
Transactional Analysis regards this dialogue as an internal communication between ego-states. An ego-state is the set of related behaviors, thoughts and feelings. It is a way we manifest a part of our personality at a given time.
If I am behaving, thinking and feeling in response to what is going on around me here and now, using my resources as a grown-up person, I am said to be in my Adult Ego-state.
At times, I may behave, think and feel in ways which are a copy of one of my parents or parent figures. On this occasion, I am said to be in my Parent Ego-state.
Sometimes, I may return to ways of behaving, thinking and feeling which I used when I was a child. It might indicate that I am in my Child Ego-state.
The internal dialogue between ego-states might be experienced as thoughts; for example, self-critical thoughts might come from Parent to a Child ( «You could have managed this situation better!» «You ought to have apologized first»). Although if the criticism is valid and relevant to the situation the message might be coming from Adult.
Child may then comply and accept the criticism («Yes, I should have managed it better. I am no good.») or rebel against it («I have done my best!») Self-pitying thoughts can be directed from Child to Parent(«Nobody likes me») to which Parent may respond in a supportive («Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with you») or in a punishing manner («You brought it upon yourself!»)
Sometimes you can hear your actual parent’s voice talking in your head or it can be a voice you don’t know or can’t remember.
Learning about the content and quality of your inner dialogue allows you to bring confusing thoughts and feelings into your Adult awareness. Once unraveled, your inner voices will loose their power and will stop interfering into your daily life.