Sometimes we forget that we always have a choice as to which voice we listen to. These days we are bombarded with all sorts of voices all the time. A bunch of them are angry, or at least fearful, aren’t they? And those are just the external voices, the ones out there in the world. The more important voices are the ones in your head. Which one of those are you listening to?
It seems that as humans we often think of things in terms of extremes—good/bad, off/on, black/white, etc. It’s no different in our brains. We all have many inner voices which could be thought of as aspects of our personalities—and we DO have a choice as to which ones we listen and respond to. For now let’s look at the big two: The “Inner Wisdom” and the “Inner Critic” voices.
Most of us know the Inner Critic (also called the gremlin, monkey mind, saboteur, etc.). It’s that voice with a “tone” and a pointing finger attached to it. It says: “you should”, “you must”, “who are you to think you can…” It’s nagging, belittling, and judgmental. Functionally it’s there to keep us safe. The problem is that it has a very narrow idea of safety. Frankly it thinks that safe is where we are right now. We aren’t on fire, the building isn’t exploding—so why mess with things? Leave it like it is. So what if we are in a job that makes us miserable, or up to our butt in credit card debt, or in a rotten relationship. Frankly, this voice comes from the concept that any change is bad and might make things worse. It’s fear based and loud, and laced with tone and drama.
The other voice I call your Inner Wisdom. It’s also know as intuition, and for some the “God voice”. It’s not so noisy, and it is completely without judgement. It’s always neutral in tone, and just sort of plops into your head or consciousness. Sometimes it feels to me that it is the the voice of my wiser future self—the one that has been through it all and knows what to worry about and what to let go of.
So here’s the deal. In order to be happier, saner, calmer, and more successful, we need to stop giving air time to our Inner Critic and pay more attention to our Inner Wisdom. That in itself can be challenging, so here are some important things to keep in mind:
- It’s really helpful to start distinguishing which voice you are hearing. Does the voice have a tone or energy to it, or is it neutral in it’s delivery? Is it judgmental or loving? It it noisy or quiet?
- You can’t actually ever make the Critic voice go away. You can choose to listen to it or not. The most effective technique with it is to see it as a “signal”. When you hear it nagging recognize that it must be doing that because you are about to do something different, and then lean toward that different thing. Remember Einstein’s definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Your critic wants you to stay right where you are, doing what you have always done. It gets riled when you step up to something new. Ah, so in an odd way what you want to do is make it nervous, yes?
- You can encourage more communication with your Inner Wisdom by giving it some calm time, time when you are not tied up in thinking. Ever notice how you get brilliant ideas in the shower? It’s because you are usually in there enjoying the water instead of fretting. Your intuition will show up when you are meditating, gardening, walking—in essence giving yourself some ‘down’ time.
Most important of all is for you to recognize that you always have choice. You can choose which inner voice to listen to, as well as which outer ones to listen to. It takes being more present and aware in order to make that choice, and it’s well worth it!
Shell Tain, The Untangler
If you find yourself struggling with which voice you are listening to give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com
Thanks for great reminder here Shell! Wisdom, Inner Peace! Love, Delaram
I’ve heard it recommended to “invite your inner demons/critics/negative voices, etc. in to tea.” Gently get to know them, befriend them, and acknowledge the contribution they are attempting to make. In essence, stop fighting back.
One day (while on a walk!) it occurred to me that when the disempowering voices rise up, I can invite them AND my Inner Wisdom chorus (and any other folks who are on my You-Go-Girl! team) to join the party.
I relaxed into the imagined dialog that these voices might have on my behalf. I became curious. It gave me space to observe from a bit of a distance — and it expanded my perspective. And amazingly, my head became a whole lot less noisy.
I agree that we don’t want to fight with the Inner Critic, fighting with it just feeds into it’s bigger goal of distracting us from pursuing new ways. From my perspective and experience, the thing to do is see the Critic voice as a signal. The mom with the child in the grocery store screaming for candy doesn’t engage about the candy. She looks at the child and says something like: “You’ve had too much sugar and need a nap!” In other words she sees it as a signal, not something to engage in. That’s what I’m suggesting.
It’s both brilliant and effective that you brought the two voices along with the rest of the team together for a party. That way there was a balance of voices. Thank you, Robin, for engaging more in the idea of voices in our heads!