I hear voices in my head and over the last couple of years they have gotten louder and more destructive. They don’t tell me to harm others or to damage the world. But they do limit my world.
The voices sound like my own voice helping me to stay safe, do the “right” thing, and to keep me from pain and suffering. And those voices, I not only hear them, I often base my actions off of them. Because who doesn’t want to do the right thing, feels safe and not be in pain (physical, emotional, spiritual)? Those voices want me to not write a blog post, “because what do I have to say?” “Who wants to read it?” And when I do sit to write, the voices escalate “you shouldn’t write in first person, that is self indulgent and conceited.” “What you are saying isn’t fact. Where are your resources to back it up?” “And what gives you the right to speak (on this topic or at all)?”
And its not just writing, the voices are in life telling me “you shouldn’t feel ________!” “Don’t be so serious.” “Smile.” “You are too sensitive.” “Don’t be too grand, too lofty.” “You are too much, too intense, too dramatic.” Other times the voices say things like “you are always late” “You never do anything right” “It is all your fault” “You suck at (fill in the blank)” “You call yourself an artist, a teacher, a healer (in a disgusted and cruel voice).” “Go back to your box, your place, where you belong.”
I thought these voices were mine, helping me. But that is a dangerous lie. The more I began to sit with the voices instead of running away from them or basing my actions on them, I began to question and challenge if these voices were mine and if they were speaking the truth. Was I always a bad girl when left to my own devices? Would I never do the right, kind, compassionate thing if I didn’t have these voices to guide me? And the answers were liberating. The voice that sounded like mine for so long, often didn’t belong to me. I swallowed other people’s voices, digested them along with cultural messages, and fed myself on what other people thought without questioning whether it was reality or fiction. And this was harming me from the inside out.
Now I talk back to these voices – sometimes I have a soothing conversation that may sound like “its ok. Writing this blog may feel dangerous, but I am not in any danger.” Or I may kindly challenge the voice –“ do I really call myself an artist, teacher, healer anywhere except for in print?” Not typically – I say I paint, I do healing, I teach classes. That is my voice, not the stern, critical, patronizing voice that keeps me bound, “in my place” and fearful of living my life in the way that I long to express and embody myself. Other times I tell the voice to “Stop that!” in the same way I would say it to someone that was hurting me. Because that is what is happening, I am being hurt, only I am inflicting the pain.
When we think the critical voice that has come from and been influenced from the outside is our TRUE voice we do ourselves harm. When the voice that began outside of ourselves, through projections, fear, and disapproval becomes our internal compass – we sin against ourselves. We miss the mark of who we are at our essence. Yes, for others that might mean we are too much for them or don’t live up to their expectations, but that often says more about them than us. But knowing this is a learned skill not often taught in life.
Everyday since I have begun to separate these voices from my own, I practice fierce self-compassion. And it is a practice – some hours, days, weeks the voices win and other moments, hours, and days I hit my mark of being me…which is a whole reflection, not the awful half truths and flat out lies that the voices tell me. I am sure I am not alone in this excavation of one’s true Self and voice. And those that find my story as your own…I pray that with each passing day we hear more and more of our own voice and have the courage to let its song rise above the chorus.