Saturday, December 29, 2007

Voices in my Head

You lock the door

And throw away the key

There's someone in my head but it's not me

-Pink Floyd “Brain Damage”

We all have an inner conversation going on within in ourselves. It’s probably going on right now as you read this deciding whether to read on or not. Just right now mine told me to go take the chicken out of the freezer, like my wife asked before she comes home and kills me for not doing it. Some of you may hear voices that give a constant running commentary, criticism or guidance. What I hope to explain here is the different types of voices and perhaps some guidance on which to listen to. I recently learned about these through a book called “On Course” by Skip Downing. Which I read for recent college course I took called Student Success. Although it was geared for college success it also has good advice for other aspects of your life. Why is it important to learn these? These are the voices we tend to listen to the most and base most of our decisions on them.

The first one we’ll cover is called the Inner Critic. This is the voice that deems us weak or inadequate. This one tells us I’m no good at math, I’m ugly and, my nose is too big. It blames you for whatever is going wrong in your life. It's not to say that the inner critic is always wrong, but it does tend to go overboard with self criticism. Self awareness is a good thing if done with care. The idea is to learn from your mistakes and not to do the same thing again.

What creates the inner critic? You may say it sounds like an adult criticism from your younger years. Perhaps you can even recall the specific incident when it happened. I know a lot of my life I've been called shy and quiet. Many times I found myself using this as an excuse to not perform my best or at least speak up when I should have.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the Inner Defender. This guy is the poster child of passing the buck. Instead of looking to ourselves for responsibility it plants the blame squarely on others. Like say blaming a teacher for a lousy grade. Another is blaming your boss or coworker because his job stinks. Basically not taking responsibility for ones own situation.

I see this one as the most prevalent at my current job unfortunately. One fellow I worked with for awhile would groan and complain about a job and constantly ask why another shift hadn't (in his opinion) done the job. In fact he seemed more concerned about what they were doing (or not) than what he himself was doing. Which to me is worrying about something that is out of your control and one should be focused( in my opinion) on your job at hand. He would spend quite amount of energy asking why or complaining to anyone who would listen about what someone else had or hadn't done right. To me it was silly and a waste of time and energy.

This has it's root probably in childhood when we were scared or defensive. We all know many children will blame siblings for things they have done. My grandmother would say “Did Gigi do it?” when asking who did something wrong. Assigning blame to an invisible person. Sure we went along with it when we could.

The last one we'll look at is the Inner Guide. Like Luke Skywalker had the ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi as his inner guide in Star Wars. It's usually the voice of reason and wisdom. It seeks to make the the best of a situation. Think of it as the “No Spin Zone” inside your head. Often giving you the impartial truth. Do I always listen to him? Not always. I've made just as many mistakes as anyone else.

The Inner Guide often finds the middle ground between the Inner Critic and Inner Defender and usually asks how you can find a sane solution to your problem. Instead of spending a lot of time blaming others or criticizing themselves, the Inner Guide almost takes a step back and analyzes the situation to find a solution.

So who should we listen to? Most often enough the Inner Guide is the one we should listen to most often. Many times in haste we turn to the inner critic or defender for advice. Not all of us are perfect but it does help to be aware of these inner voices inside our head that guide us in our daily lives. Remember that the inner critic tends beat ourselves up over issues. The inner defender will be blaming everyone else, including President Bush for there situation. The Inner Guide is your best bet in my opinion. He tends to be the voice of reason. It usually makes the most sense in many cases if we are listening. How many times have you realized you did something wrong and said I should have listened to myself beforehand? I know I have.

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