So listen; what about that voice in your head who says you can’t, you mustn’t, you shouldn’t, you wouldn’t dare? What about that voice, my sweet? How on earth will you do all this, with her there, up there? What will we do about this doomsday storyteller, this inner critic?
A few months ago, something happened to me that changed my life forever. It’s not hyperbole. I can’t go back to how I was, ever. This new way of being is working so amazingly well, I don’t think I could ever go back.
I learned how to shut up.
Now, I’m not talking about talking. I’m talking about the infernal chatter in my head. The inner doomsday storyteller. The voice I believed was me, or maybe God, or at one stage the devil. But it’s not the devil or God. In fact, that perpetual gabble going on up there isn’t even me.
You know the voice I mean, don’t you? That constant internal dialogue that narrates our lives with banter about what we should and shouldn’t do, who will have what to say about it, and what’s likely to happen if we don’t get it exactly right, whatever it is. The inner critic. I’d never actually thought about what that voice was, until I read a book about meditation. The book said to consider the idea the voice we have in our heads, constantly narrating and directing our actions, responses and perceptions, isn’t really us. Not the real us, anyway. It’s all our built up knowledge and the things we’ve learned along the way which our subconsciousness likes to repeat back to us to help us keep safe and avoid ever encountering things, circumstances and people that could pose a threat, physically, socially or emotionally.
That voice is the narrator or our history trying to predict our future, but it isn’t us.
The author of the book asked me to consider the idea I was not the speaker in my head, but instead was the one listening to that speaking. I was not the narrator, but the person witnessing that narration.
This was a revelation to me, this idea that I was not the fearful, anxiety ridden voice, always warning me to be wary of this and careful of that, but instead was a witness to that voice, the listener of it. That I was perhaps standing somewhere behind that chatter and noise, and this was intriguing to me. I started spending quiet times practising quitting that inner critic, teaching and disciplining the voice in my head to be perfectly quiet. I literally told the voice to shoosh, to stop and cut it out for awhile, and waited to see what would happen next.
What do you think? It started up again, telling me what a dumb idea this was and how boring it was, and totally impossible, and not to forget to buy dog food and ring the accountant the next day.
But I kept practicing. I kept comforting and consoling my inner voice, telling it I’d get around to those things tomorrow, but for now, what it needed to do was be still. Shoosh now. And I waited in that space. And guess what I found there?
The thing I’d been running from all these years.
Not just audible peace. Not just an empty space where the nagging, fearful, chicken-shit storyteller of the actual and imagined past and the doomsday clairvoyant of my future finally lay down her guns, but a place of true peace, and, thank the God of heaven and the little baby Jesus, a place of blessed rest. And, unexpectedly, a place in which I found helpful resources. Just lying around. In fact, back there where the real me – the me without the constant fearful chatter in my head – lives, I discovered a wondrous array of all the terrific things I was needing in my everyday life.
Courage. Wisdom. Creativity. Patience. Perseverance. Kindness. Strength.
I found that I could sit there in that space and let the peace simply tell me what to do. To guide me. It was like God was there, and I simply turned and found Him there with all this helpful stuff, just we were like sitting at a bus stop, and he said “Hey, what took you so long?”
And this has changed my life. To find all the resources I need to get through my days and face life, right there, so close. Freely available.
And not out there. In here. In me.
I’ve always known that part of me was there. I had glimmers sometimes, flashes of intuition and knowledge resonating, but I didn’t know where the source lay, where the centre was. And here it was, underneath the chatter, behind the fearful perpetual gabble in my head. I thought my memory and my history was guiding me, when in fact they’ve been clouding me.
It seems my heart, my gut and my spirit are bigger, deeper and stronger than my memory or my history. Connected to eternity, my soul guides me like a current pulls a raft. If I trust the source, and the destination, then I can confidently silence the nagging voice of fear, and trust my gut, my centre, to guide me.
It’s so quiet down there, I find myself returning there often now, just to check in. I can feel if I’m in the right place now. I only need to quiet that minivan of frightened orphans I carry around in my head. Once I’ve hugged them all quiet and gotten them asleep in their car seats, I’m free to take to the open road in confidence and peace. And off we go. Shoosh, my babies. Everything is going to be all right.
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