An author that I love, Michael Singer, has a book titled The Untethered Soul. The book is a fascinating read. In one chapter he writes about the voice we all have in our head. You know, the voice that says you are stupid, look old, do everything wrong, are insensitive, eat poorly, etc.; the voice that is our constant companion. Singer proposes that if said voice was a friend outside of our head, we would have ended the friendship a long time ago. We would never stand to be spoken to that rudely, yet we speak to ourselves that way all the time.
Often it is hard to hear the voice, it speaks frequently and is habitual therefore we tend not to notice. Yet this internal voice shapes how we engage with the world. We can have supportive family and friends on the outside, but if the voice on the inside is mean and nasty, we give more weight to this inner truth than to the outer world view of us. Instead of seeing the supportive family and friends, we see the opposite. We collect data to support our inner view of ourselves. We validate our story.
This voice also shapes our body. When we feel great and things are going our way, we hold our body in a way that reflects our circumstances. We smile, we look up and engage people with eye contact, keep our spine straight, and walk confidently with firm strides. We embody our mood. When we do not feel great, are having a bad day/week/month/year/life our body reflects that as well. We do not smile, if we do it is contrived, we look down and avoid contact, we slouch, and we walk limply. In this respect, we also embody our mood.
We can fire the voice. When we fire the voice, we fire the mood and all sorts of capacity becomes available to us. We can say thank you very much, I know you are trying to protect me, you have served me well, now rest. There is a new voice that I wish to listen to now.
In order to fire the voice, I mean really fire the voice not just reduce its hours to part time, we have to create practices to make space to listen for the new voice. One practice that I have used to support my new voice is meditation. This practice allows me to hear my voice without any external distractions. Over time, I was able to hear the new voice not just on the cushion, but everywhere in my life. The old voice came by now and again for an alumni party but did not stay very long! See post on meditation for instructions.
Another practice is to read Mary Oliver’s poem, The Journey, five times a day to yourself. This poem describes what it feels like to hear your pure voice for the first time, and recognize the resistance that occurs when we choose the new voice instead of the old.
Lastly, ask for help. Give new life to yourself; ask all the people you know to give you only positive, supportive feedback for a week. See if you can hear it. Go ahead invite perspective, this is a voice that is truly your own, please make space to listen. The world needs your unique voice, it is calling you.