It is useful and necessary to have an inner voice. We need to be able to consider and argue our way into doing what we must. It’s how we mull over difficult decisions and build ourselves up when things get tough. If there were nothing but static or silence in our heads, we wouldn’t probably be very fabulous human beings.
Introspection, meta-cognition, reflection…these things make us human. Without the ability (or if we deny the ability), I will say flat out that I believe it makes us shallow.
I have no problem with people (in fact I sort of envy them) who have the talent for shutting their inner voices off. It’s a handy thing when you want to do things you know that angel on your shoulder would criticize or question.
I do not have this ability. Alcohol can help…enough liquor shuts that shit right down – and suddenly I’m free to be as crazy and stupid as I want. This can be a good thing. And a very very bad thing, depending.
But…different from your “inner voice” (which is usually a fairly positive thing) is that fucking inner critic…that fucking guy. The one that reminds you that your mother would hate this outfit, that you don’t have as many social media followers as the other writers, that you haven’t achieved what you thought you would by this age. You know…the guy who reminds you about the sad state of your bank account and the large size of your rear end. The one who compares you to everything and everyone. The one who points out that you haven’t done this or that and that you aren’t keeping up with the Jones’s. He’s an asshole. And he’s super good at his “job.”
I’m constantly telling this guy to shut up and fuck off.
And I do a pretty good job most of the time. When I’ve got time to think about it and remind myself to be conscious of his terrible, shifty, underhanded, insidious antics. I can talk myself out of believing his lies.
But there are other times, when I’m already low and weak. When my mental health isn’t at its peak. When I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. When I’m angry or hurt. And then suddenly, I’m a puddle at his feet. He jumps right in and takes over, wreaking emotional havoc all over the place.
I’ve read a few posts this week from other writers who are struggling with this demon. He rears his ugly head as imposter syndrome and insecurity and envy. And he gets around like nobody’s business…obviously.
Sometimes we have to help each other out. When we see our friends being pulled down by this dickhead, we need to throw out the lifeline. We need to listen. Because most of us have fallen victim and we know all too well how it feels.
I’m getting better, like I said, at ignoring him. (Though I have just started to wonder why I’ve given my inner voice a male aspect.) I do have to stop myself right away when I start to see myself caving, doubting myself. I have to forgive myself sometimes for my weaknesses and screw-ups…accept myself for being human.
It’s helped to begin really having a handle on my own needs and desires. Knowing that this is the life I have chosen to live makes it easier to defend (even when it is just against my inner critic).
I probably spend too much energy defending myself against an imaginary entity. But, I’m getting to the point where his voice is quieter and doesn’t get through as often. And that means there is less to defend…less often.
Learning to get better at saying no has also helped. I’ve set better priorities and am learning to defend them ruthlessly. My time is valuable. My emotional state and mental health are just as valuable. I can accomplish only so much. And I can’t compare myself to others. It’s hard, I’ll admit that. But it’s getting easier every year.
I’m part of a writing community. I don’t comment or post as often or spend as much time on social media. I don’t have as many followers as some and can’t boast as many comments on my posts. I just don’t have the time to dedicate to this blog that some people do, and therefore it doesn’t measure up. I haven’t published…and I’m not likely to anytime soon. However, I’ve got a full-time job, a family, friends, and other hobbies. And I need time to just be. So, yes, I disappear from time to time and I don’t do as much as others. I’ve learned to be okay with that.
It may sound “froo froo,” but it’s also helped me to help others realize that they are “enough.” We spend so much time competing and accomplishing and producing that we forget to just be. Maybe we are good enough the way we are. Maybe we don’t need to improve or get better all the damn time.
Our endless search for success and need for productivity can be detrimental to a peaceful soul.
Of course we also need things to strive for to infuse us with energy. So, I suppose it is about balance. Knowing our vision. Knowing what we really want. And then defending it. Loudly and repeatedly if necessary.
And maybe it just means sometimes sticking our fingers in our ears singing la-la-la-la-la…until the critic goes the fuck away.
If that doesn’t work, call (or email) a friend who can help you find your truth again.