Can you help me understand why I give myself away so often? I know I do it, but I am never aware of this self-defeating behavior while I'm doing it.
Have you ever asked yourself, "What in the world did I just do?" or "Why did I say that cruel thing?" Who are you talking to? If you didn't sink your own ship, then who did? Something took you over. The beauty of staying awake within ourselves and remaining watchful and aware is that it is possible to see the truth of this and to be in relationship with that which never gives itself away to any negative condition. This means that when we do give ourselves away, each time we compromise ourselves without knowing it, we are asleep in that moment to what we are in relationship with. Awakening is about ending our unconscious relationship with that level of our present nature that not only gives itself away hand over fist, but also is always looking for new and better ways to do it!
Once we have become conscious of self-wrecking thoughts, how do we know the difference between going into denial about them or otherwise unconsciously repressing them?
The only way it's possible to truly deliver ourselves from the punishment of our own self-wrecking thoughts is to begin awakening to their hidden cause within us. For example, self-loathing is a string of dark thoughts driven by negative emotions based in imagination about ourselves. The secret cause or undetected opposite of self-loathing is an unconscious image we have of being better than that self we detest. So it is not a question of repressing or ignoring self-wrecking thoughts and feelings, as neither of these inner actions will free us from the effects of unwanted inner states. Seeing beyond any doubt (or with doubt, if necessary) that the thoughts that attack us do so because we have unconsciously agreed to their onslaught is what makes us quit the whole business. In a manner of speaking, at this point in our inner growth, there is no more fun or hope left for us in this kind of suffering. Then suffering falls off by itself.
One maxim of self-development I sense is true is that the way out of any stressful situation is to "go through it." How does this approach apply to reducing stress-producing thought-attacks?
Everything depends upon our ability to inwardly discriminate between thoughts and feelings that are for us as opposed to those that are against us. Whenever confronted with an onslaught of internal impressions, the most powerful tool you have is to go silent. Step away from the situation inwardly by bringing everything that is going through you into your deliberate field of attention. There is a native unity in a silent mind that is able to both witness and "taste" the thoughts and feelings passing through it. It is this internal field of silence that reveals the character of any impressions and shows them for what they are. It's hard to make a mistake when your first wish is to see these thoughts and feelings instead of just unconsciously turning your will over to them.
Where do all of these tormenting thoughts come from that we hear as voices within us? I think if I knew the truth of their origin, they wouldn't overcome me so easily. Can you shed some light on this mystery?
Rest assured that for now where these voices come from is not as important as the fact that they exist. Persist with your inner work, particularly working at becoming increasingly conscious of these voices, and something unthinkable will occur: Bit by bit you will be able to see into the nature (that does not belong to any individual) from which these inner voices of conflict arise. Like all ecological niches, everything has its place. Our place is within the higher life, where these voices either have no consequence or eventually disappear.