The voices inside my head are being really loud right now:
“You’re a BLOGGER…oh my gawwwd, everyone and their brother has a blog, what have you got to say that anyone would want to hear ANYWAY…”
Sometimes these voices are so loud I can barely see in front of my face. It feels like they come from a million shadows crowding around me, forcing me to cave in on myself. Something magical has been happening as I age, though. I realize more and more frequently that these voices are not MY voice. They are the vocalizations of ghosts from the past, and therefore irrelevant to my present and future.
Even as I type these words, the voices are losing their power, their volume…their control over my actions. They are not me. They are not my voice and they don’t reflect my own thoughts or feelings. They are strands of a web woven long ago by people who sought to keep me quiet and insignificant, and I have begun to tear that web apart.
A Comfortable Place to Hide
It was a really strong web. After a while, it became a comfortable place to hide, as well. I could pull it around me like a cocoon and use it to keep the world out. It was safe in there, and I could look out at the world and not have to truly engage.
I would occasionally poke a finger through, or get a foot all the way out…but then something would happen that I would use to convince myself that, indeed, they were right, I SHOULD be small, and insignificant. I really should shut up and stop bothering them. I should go to my room and hide.
No one can get me in there. I can breathe without being reminded that my very existence was an annoyance, at best something to be tolerated and at worst an example of…well, honestly, I don’t exactly know what I was an example of to the ghosts. Something they really didn’t want to face, that’s for sure.
It didn’t occur to me until well into adulthood that these messages reflected a fundamental flaw not in me, but in the people conveying the message. I believed them for such a long time that it’s surprising I ever did anything. I did, though – I left and had adventures and only got trapped by my own mind again when I got sick, and my inner resources dwindled.
When Hiding is Healing
I’ve only recently realized that the time I’ve been spending “hiding in my room” was necessary – a part of healing and recovering those inner resources. Also a time to really work on understanding why I do the things I do, so that I can step to the left of all of that and get on with the business of living.
I don’t think I’m alone in being a victim of the ghost voices in my head. I actually think it may be a very common experience. People are often not very good at being careful with their words.
A lot of people pass their own damage on to their kids, whether they want to or not. Add to that the damage shared among siblings, classmates, teacher to student, doctor to patient, and don’t even get me started with the messages conveyed by so many movies and TV shows.
There are good messages, too, good teachers, good classmates and even good siblings. Let’s face it, though – the good voices are not the problem. They rarely contribute to dysfunction in our lives, and in fact may be a powerful force in helping us excel in spite of those other voices. All of these people have a role to play in our early programming. The voices that whisper or scream at us now are often ghosts.
Choosing When To Listen
If the voices are the echoes of someone else’s damage, then we have to really work at discerning whether a thought we think is really OUR thought. For instance, I’ve learned to check in with myself when I catch myself being judgmental. More often than not I am judging myself, but I will also catch myself judging others. Either way, it is hardly ever MY thought.
The thing is, the feedback I get from my friends and family and even clients and total strangers, is that I am NOT judgmental. They feel comfortable and accepted and seen and heard and at ease, even with the parts of themselves they would normally try to hide. I know for certain that I am most myself when I forget about me, and am focused on someone else.
This tells me that I am most myself when I am being accepting, and open, and curious and compassionate…not when I’m being judgmental. So I’ve learned to check in, and have discovered that very, very often the judgmental thought I just had is not my own. It is a thought that I don’t actually believe. It is almost always the echo of a ghost. I’ve learned to recognize some of the voices – they’re so obvious I probably don’t need to name them. I imagine we all have that primary cast of characters who have the most staying power in our minds.
Think Your Own Thoughts
My point is this. Check in with the things you think. Listen to your thoughts, and make sure you are not carrying around a bunch of beliefs that someone else instilled in you. This gives you power over your own being.
If you realize a thought you had or something you said to yourself came from someone ELSE, then decide whether it’s worth adopting as your own, or eradicating from your mind. You have that power, to agree and accept, or deny and reject, your own thoughts.
If you discover a thought you didn’t like WAS actually one of your own, you can address that as well. Is it useful? Does it reflect who you really want to be? You can choose, you know – even if you believed a thought yesterday, that doesn’t mean you have to make it true today as well. Listen for your own voice as often as possible…it will become clearer and clearer as you do.