Outside Voices are something everyone has. They’re the feelings, wants and opinions of others that ring so loudly in your ears that you can’t hear what’s true for yourself anymore. Or else they’re the voices in your head that shout at you, telling you mostly what’s wrong with you and what you need to change.
Outside voices are different from your inner voice because they talk at you. They don’t emerge from what you want or feel or sense or truly know. They tend to tell how you “should” feel, what you “should” do, and the ways you “should” improve. They cause you to ignore what arises from your inner self in favor of some external standard that you’ve come to believe is more important or correct.
Basically there are two kinds of outside voices. The first is called “influence,” which are the opinions, needs, expectations and desires of all the people around you, including the media and people from your past, and the second are the Internalized Outside Voices, those critical, sometimes even vicious, voices that attack you when a deep inner feeling or desire contradicts a strong internalized belief, often acquired in childhood, that you mustn’t feel that way.
“The trick is to learn how to separate the inside form the outside, to identify what is coming from within you – from what you know, sense, feel and want, or from your Larger Self—and what is coming from what you perceive are other people’s needs and expectations, or from the relentless, harping voices within that hold you back or punish you for your supposed faults. Once you do that, you can then begin to turn your attention away from the outside voices and toward your inner truth. I call this ‘aligning with the inside.”
From I Know I’m in There Somewhere, p. 61