What Is Your Inner Voice Saying To You?
And how can you learn to control the narrative?
There’s something about those people who walk down the street talking to themselves that makes you want to get away from them no? It’s as if we’re afraid that their insanity is infectious. It doesn’t matter if they’re dressed in a suit or rags, young or old, male or female, talking to yourself in public is the gold standard of crazy behaviour.
The funny thing is, the only difference between them (the freaks) and us (the normals) is the fact that we do the talking inside our heads. Just imagine if everyone could hear the voice inside your head. If every stray thought or urge, every memory of an embarrassing moment from years ago, every insecurity about how other people see you, were freed from the confines of your head. Would anybody think you were sane?
The line between sanity and madness, in this case at least, is simply whether you choose to be insane discreetly or not. These people are doing the same thing as the rest of us, they’re just doing it in a way which is more annoying. Nobody wants to listen to the ravings of other people’s minds, it’s bad enough that we’re stuck listening to the ravings of our own.
But in a way, maybe the people who say it all out loud have the right idea. By putting their inner madness out in the public domain, they gain a unique opportunity to think about what’s being said. It’s made a little bit more real by virtue of the fact that other people can hear it.
Sadly the people doing this can’t reap the benefits of this added realness because they’re crazy. But the principle still stands. There is value in paying attention to the things that our inner voice is saying.
You know, maybe the desire to avoid these people is born of the fact that we instinctively want to avoid listening to this voice, especially other people’s. When it’s inside our heads at least we can drown it out with distractions; work, sex, food, drink, drugs, Netflix. We can cross the street of our minds to avoid listening to our inner voice, just as we might avoid the people who don’t have the decency to pretend that they don’t have one.
What if we didn’t though? What would we learn if we could bear the discomfort of listening to it for a while? How does the voice respond to when it’s listened to (I mean really listened to) instead of shunned?
Well, there’s only one way to find out which is by listening. And I recommend this strategy because the only thing crazier than walking down the street thinking every thought out loud, is trying to go the rest of your life ignoring a voice which is literally inside your head.
So the obvious question is, “how do you listen to it?” and the obvious answer is, “you meditate.” Many people mistakenly believe that the aim of meditation is to quiet your mind but this isn’t quite right. Trying to quiet the mind is like trying to win an argument on the internet; your sanity is likely to break long before the resolve of the fourteen-year-old arguing with you does.
Meditation is the practice of letting the voice talk as much as it needs to, without taking anything it says too seriously or too personally. If it’s unable to provoke a reaction from you it will eventually talk itself out. Then it becomes quiet all by itself.
And I get it, sitting for hours listening to the ramblings of your mind seems crazy. No more appealing than sitting next to a stranger as they do it. It sounds like the last thing a sane person would ever want to do. But when you realise that this voice is the single biggest influence in your life, the one that you hear more than any other, wouldn’t it be crazier not to figure out what it has to say?