The devil is in my head

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I feel a voice inside my head wanting me to fail.
In cases that would resemble a social anxiety I feel like there is a voice in my head that tells me I am going to fail. I am not sure if it’s a mild panic attack. It happened today…I was in an interview with people I am very familiar with and was ask my first question which caught me off guard and I froze but I felt a voice in my head that was saying “don’t focus, you are freezing”, telling me to fail. It happens when I am flustered and can’t focus. I would like to know what it is and what I can do about getting this “devil” out of my head? Please help. Thanks

A: Thank your for taking the time to ask us about this issue. I believe this is a good situation for cognitive-behavioral therapy. Find a therapist with this approach from the find help tab above. This is likely to be the most direct way to deal with the devil.

I particularly think a dose of resilience therapy would be a good place to start. Here is a recent article I’ve written you may find helpful.

In this approach the first thing to do is identify the automatic negative thoughts that arise in a situation. You already know this -so you are off to a good start. The second thing to do is to challenge this negative thought directly with a competing, more positive thought. Instead of letting the thoughts of failure get a stronghold, confront them with thoughts that are believable and positive. Perhaps “I know these people and they have asked me here because they want me to join them” or something similar would work. These techniques can weaken and hopefully, eventually, replace the negative thoughts.

The devil needs to be served an eviction notice.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Aug 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). The devil is in my head. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/08/11/the-devil-is-in-my-head/