Quieting the Inner Voice
For most of my life I assumed that the voice in my head and me were the same thing. Until you notice the voice, and don’t even necessarily agree with the voice, then you have a weird brain-zapping aha-moment where you are aware of your awareness and you suddenly spy a glimpse of your ego. I like the term author Michael Singer uses for the voice – your roommate. So I have been listening to my roommate more carefully lately, especially now that I understand that I’m not her, I only have to live with her. And let me tell you, she is totally annoying.
She does not shut up with her endless chatter and observations, which is very distracting when I’m trying to relax, enjoy myself, work, run, hike, walk my dog, read, or focus on something. When I have insomnia, she is thrilled because apparently she does not sleep and loves having someone to talk at in the wee hours. I notice that when I’m really trying to listen to someone I care about she is like a petulant, interrupting child poking me and interjecting irrelevant thoughts or else obsessed with ideas of what I could say next.
Seriously, if she were renting a room in my house instead of space in my head – I would promptly evict this pain in the ass.
Sometimes the things we love in life merge and become one. Chris Martin from Coldplay recently fronted for u2 when Bono was recovering from a bicycle accident. This week Kristin Armstrong, a runner who serves as my de factor spiritual guide, wrote a column about self-compassion and quieting the inner voice that often disrupts our daily existence by interjecting unwelcome, critical thoughts into our brains, a subject addressed by another favorite author, KellyMcGonigal, a Stanford professor who has written about neuroscience and Eastern Wisdom.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept of an inner voice that is separate from our own identity, then this blog post may concern you. It might strike you as a bit paranoid-schizophrenic, something written by someone hearing "voices" in their heads. But, alas, the inner voice described here is very real and separate and distinct from those heard by the mentally infirm. This voice takes over, if you let it, when the brain is not focused on specific external stimuli or events. You let the brain wander and allow this voice to interject, and it will.
This won’t be the only time we discuss this idea here. I point this out today for several reasons. For us mid-lifers who are newly single, ask yourself who is driving your dating decisions? Is it you or this inner voice that demands you be with someone? When you kick someone to the curb and dismiss them as the “wrong type,” ask yourself who made that decision.
What I’ve found is that the more we quiet our inner voice, the more we find that our daily decisions are easier to make and far less stressful. The lack of a date over a weekend really isn’t a big deal unless we let someone convince us that it is. When we are lucky enough to find a date over a weekend, maybe give that date and your relationship an opportunity to blossom instead of rejecting them from the moment you meet, the moment they open their mouths, or the moment you find they aren’t captivating your attention and drooling over your good looks.
This might sound like another way of saying “just chill, baby.”
But I submit you ain’t never gonna chill until you get that inner voice under control.