Do you have a little voice in your head that drives you crazy?
- Nags you
- Criticizes you
- Bullies you
- Sabotages you
- Tells you to quit
- Tells you that you won't make it
For most people, their mind has become a machine that describes, compares, and judges constantly. Are you aware how busy your mind is all the time? Perhaps at first, you didn't think of your thinking as judgmental. Perhaps you thought that it just played back your opinions to you, and that didn't bother you. And then, one day, the little voice in your head started keeping you up at night, and you started noticing that things were getting out of balance.
In a second, I'll explain how you can tame this wild monkey in less than 10 minutes. First, you have to understand where it comes from.
Where does the little voice come from?
That little voice that judges you developed when you were young when your memory faculty started blending with your logical faculty. Before these two properties of your mind developed, you lived in the present moment. In the present, you experienced desire and action to express yourself. Before logic and memory emerged, if you wanted to go into your room and play, you went into your room and played. Later, one of your parents might tell you to pick up your toys, but you would still go into your room to play.
As your memory emerged, you would remember your mother scolding you for not putting your toys away. Then, as your logical capacities took form, your mind would associate cause and effect. It would link you not putting your toys away with the effect of being punished. Then, one day, as you went into your room to play, you saw your toys and a little voice in your head told you: "You should pick these up." That voice echoed from memory, telling you through logic how to avoid the pain of punishment.
After you got scolded, your mind also stored in memory an confirmation along the lines of "I should have picked up my toys". Our mind was learning and reminding us what to do to gain pleasure and avoid pain. In memory, it registered the suggestions that the little voice would later repeat when we needed them. Over time, we learned to obey the little voice to play within the bounds of other people's rules and avoid getting pain inflicted on us. The little voice reminded us of the past to tentatively prevent us from feeling pain in the future.
A GPS to good stuff too
The little voice also informed you of what to do to get rewards: attention, love and care. "You should clean your room, eat the right foods, be quiet, study and treat people well. Do this and people will like you, treat you well and love you. This will make you happy." It registered and played back all the rules based on the punishments and rewards stored in memory.
Take note of this: the little voice lives in the past and projects it onto the future. It keeps you from experiencing the present moment.
Imagine the situation... You perceived adults as unpredictable. Even your parents who loved you would punish you if you did something wrong. Maybe you would get punished for something that your sibling did. In a world of adults with the power to inflict pain on us and take away our pleasure, you started trusting the little voice more than anything or anyone else. It became your guide to emotional safety. You gave it great authority over your choices. You trusted it to be correct.
The little voice evolved as time passed. With logic, you learned to look at things in your past and interpret what you "should have done" and "should have not done." Armed with this new information, the little voice gave you advice about your future as to what you "should do" and "should be." All these opinions were based on the intelligence of your own logic. It used your memories as references. As such, it started sounding as coming from you when, in fact, that little voice only echoed memories.
And then you grew up...
When you were young, your emotional well-being depended on how other people perceived and reacted to you. You created logical rules based on how you received reward and punishment from others. As you grew up, you didn't get rewarded and punished in the same way, if at all.
Sometimes, you worked hard at something, but no one noticed and no one rewarded you. Sometimes, you felt nervous that someone would do something against you if you didn't do as they wished. You started trying to please people based on your "should" rules from the past.
And that's where you got suck. And it's probably where you're stuck right now.
The insidious consequences of the little voice: a life of fear
The little voice tries to provide you with a sense of security, trying to keep you safe and comfortable with the bounds of the way things are right now. If things change too much around you, the little voice sounds the alarm siren. It will say no, step on the brakes and do what it can to shut you down. The little voice doesn't want to change its opinions. Above all, it needs to be right. Being right means you're safe and secure.
But there's a problem with that.
Being right is an illusion.
When threatened, The Little Voice is not above recruiting a few anxiety attacks. It wants things to stay the same and knows that fear freezes flow. It will call on subconscious fears so you won’t even know why you are afraid to move forward in your life even when you have a strong conscious desire to do so.
What is the little voice, really?
The little voice is nothing more than a collection of automated and habituated patterns of thought and speech. These eventually became goggles through which you now perceive reality. It expresses habitual, generally irrational and definitely unexamined thoughs. These goggles tend to disempower rather than empower you. The biggest problem of all is that you don't perceive what you see through the goggles as filtered perceptions. You perceive it as reality itself!
Worst of all, you start experiencing the goggles as you, as your self. Sometimes you put your trust in the rules that the little voice echoes, thinking that you are trusting your self. Then you give up your identity and follow rules of "should" and "shouldn't" echoed from the past instead of staying in the present. You basically "should" all over yourself, as Tony Robbins puts it.
As a result, you turn over your power to the little voice, which obstructs your ability to experience love, joy, creativity and success.
The rules don't exist to fulfill you, you exist to fulfill the rules. You become a puppet of the rules. You exist to keep them alive and well and to perpetuate them.
If you don't take control over it, the little voice will destroy your emotional life piece by piece. And because emotion is the fuel for your entire life, it will then take your relationships, your career, your health and everything else that you hold dear.
It's time to stop this now
The little voice excels at pretending it’s the voice of knowledge or wisdom. It's not. It's really just another opinion.
You are not your goggles. All you have is a monkey mind that keeps itself busy with nonsense and revs you up.
But you no longer have to fall prey to it.
It's time to silence it. Tone it down. Quiet it.
You have to bring down the noise to zero to get some peace and disidentify with the voice. Once the chatter is gone, and you're still there, you'll connect to a deeper part of yourself. And from that moment forward, you will put yourself back in the driver's seat of your life.
Buddhists call this moment of realization "enlightenment."
Until now, you would traditionally be able to silence your little voice by learning and practicing meditation. You have probably read about meditation and the myriad of benefits, physical and mental, it offers. You might have even tried to meditate in the past and gave up in frustration.
The problem with meditation
The problem with meditation is that it takes a long time to become effective to silence your little voice, which produces all this inner chatter. Your little voice itself will work actively to prevent you from entering the meditative state. So you might wrestle with meditation for weeks before giving up in frustration. In my experience with my clients, meditating is not the most effective first step. I recommend you use a process called "Attention-Thought Dissociation".
Once you are able to rapidly silence your inner chatter (and with the Attention-Thought Dissociation, it will happen in less than 10 minutes), you can learn meditation if you so desire. You will be able to practice it much more rapidly and effectively.
Find a way to silence
Whether you choose to learn meditation from a teacher or opt for a faster solution like Attention-Thought Dissociation, commit to finding a way to silence your inner chatter. The relief you will feel is well worth the investment you will make in effort and money.
Peace, calm and a surplus of energy await you on the side of silence.