Fearne Cotton and Nadiya Hussain are incredibly refreshing and relatable when it comes to talking about women’s mental health issues. So when Hussain joined Cotton on her podcast, Happy Place, we knew it would be an important listen. The pair talked about finding your identity and taking up space, but it was one thread of discussion in particular that really related to how a lot of people feel.
Hussain started a conversation about the importance of listening to your inner voices, with a focus on paying extra attention to the quieter voice – because that’s often the more positive and truthful one.
She questioned why the men around her seem to find life so much simpler and easier, continuing:
“I think we all have this inner voice that sits there on the tip of our tongues desperate to get out. Other times it sits quite heavy on your chest. And I think, as a woman […] that voice is always there.
“And sometimes it’s really loud and everyone hears it, and other times it just niggles in the back of your head. And I think we’ve all been there, we’ve all experienced it, whether you’re a man or a woman, I think we’ve all experienced that voice that tells you you’re not good enough, or the one that tells you that you should be doing more.
“Sometimes, occasionally, the voice will say ‘hey you’re actually OK at this’ – very rare. Very, very rare. But the one time my voice might say ‘you’re OK at this, you’re kind of doing alright’ it goes away very quickly and is flooded with all the other negative thoughts that are always there telling me that I’m not a good enough mum or I’m not doing a good job.
“As humans, we’re all looking for that voice. And whether it’s loud or quiet, it’s there. I think we have to kind of acknowledge that it does exist. It is there.”
Cotton then suggested that, actually, the quietest voice inside us is the one that we should really pay attention to.
She said: “I was really struggling with this one yesterday. I was feeling like I wasn’t being as productive as I like to be. Usually I’m kind of a bit hyper-creative, I have to be creating things constantly otherwise I feel a real lack of contentment.
“And I was really beating myself up about ‘I’m not doing enough’ or ‘there’s not enough forward movement right now’. I was chatting to a very wise friend and I kind of came to a similar conclusion that you’re talking about where, often my voice – like, the truth, the real one - is really quiet and it’s over here saying ‘you’re fine, everything’s cool, don’t rush’.
“Then there’s the loud ones and they’re telling me: “You’re a piece of shit, you’re not doing enough. You’re not productive.’ And it’s such a shame that usually the louder ones are the really negative ones. And we have to go really deep in and listen to those quite quiet ones and that’s our truth and that’s our kind of finding our voice in a sense.”
Hussain and Cotton agreed that this way of thinking and ‘inner conflict” is “exhausting”.
Hussain added: “I totally get where you’re coming from and […] everyone who is listening to this is going to get this. they are going to feel this. And I think we’re shy, we’re too scared to admit that [to] that voice. We want to appear confident like we know exactly what we’re doing.
“But we all have that voice in there niggling away saying: ‘You are not good enough’. But it’s exhausting. Why are we not talking to each other? Why are we not saying ‘we all have this voice and it’s beating us up every single day?’ Why are we not saying that it’s exhausting and actually I’m not going to let it get to me every single day. Because just hearing you say that is making me feel stressed out.”
Listen to Happy Place with Nadiya Hussain
Cotton concluded: “We’re all living with this inner dialogue that’s so relentless and often I’ll ring someone, like this wise friend, to look for outside reinforcement. Someone that can say ‘no no, just listen to the quiet voice’. But I can’t do that on my own and that frustrates me.”