Oh! That Voice.
Imagine a world where you believe, without question, every vile thing your worst enemy tells you. They have access to your deepest fears, and most egregious failings. They use this information against you every day in your work life, in your private life, and even at night while you are falling asleep. You are not even safe in the privacy of your own shower. And here is the worst part of all. The voice is coming from inside your head, and it sounds JUST LIKE YOU. That is the world many live in every single day. And that voice does not soothe. It is a threat, and it lies in wait just below our conscious level of awareness. Our bodies know it, our emotions and behaviors reveal it. Self criticism will beat the eff out of self compassion, unless we intervene knowingly, and wisely.
A few things to know about That Voice: it may creep in so stealthily that it is halfway through its diatribe before you even know it's there. Your body will have been responding to it, just below your level of awareness. You are the only one who can hear it, so your friends and people who love you don't understand your treatment of yourself. That Voice will convince you of things that are not true. It will have you believe that of aaallllllll the bodies on the beach, everyone is looking at yours, and oh yes, in a negative way. It will have you believing that applying for that job is a waste of time. It will convince you that every single person to whom you are attracted is "out of your league." And, perhaps most importantly, it knows that you will believe its version of reality to the detriment of your better self. This is threat.
People the world over have bent to the will of That Voice. Trust me, with it, we wouldn't have "lip plumpers," and "thigh gaps," or "Hair Club for Men". For the love of all things universal, we would be more open on many more levels, and way more likely to share our gifts with those around us. But, instead, the threat, creates the drive, and undermines our attempts to do the sacred work of soothing ourselves through self-compassion.
Well, I say, screw That Voice. Now, just to be clear, I'm a big chicken so I am not going to walk right up to it and challenge it. I am going to share a softer approach, one that feels safer. A gentler approach-nee, dare I say-a compassionate approach. Big deep breath, here.
I am going to hear That Voice. I am going to let it say what it will in a given moment, for only a moment and I am going to write it down. Try this, honor the voice for a moment. If not yours, then whose voice is it? Why is it telling you these critical things? What is it trying to do? What age do you feel when it drifts from the shadows into your consciousness? Do you need it for that purpose anymore? Write these things down. Let That Voice know that it can no longer lurk in the shadows. Pull it front and center, and glean every lesson you can from it. When it wants to repeat itself, just, shhhhh, shhhhh. A rain stick can be useful during this exercise. Just shhhh.
Because thoughts are backed by some very powerful neuro chemistry, it will take time to "rewire" the voice out, and next week, I will offer an exercise to block the thoughts, and help break the connections. But for now, let's start by hearing.