13 December 2007

The Voices in My Head

From Overheard in New York
Female #1: You know when you think something and then a voice in your head is like, 'Yeah, yeah, say that out loud! That would be a good thing to say!' and then you do it and you're like, 'Well, that was a mistake...'?
Female #2: Yeah.
Female #1: Yeah, I think I just did that.

The biggest mistake we continually make is simply this: we confuse the narrator with the event. Specifically, we confuse the voice in our head with reality. "He is such a dweeb," the voice says, and we file that commentary away as a fact. "I can't do that," we tell ourselves, and, again, file that away as a fact. Talk radio plays the role of affirming the distortions of consensus reality. The voice in our head plays the role of bounding personal reality within the distorted but manageable frames of our personal narrative.

Facts are hard to get to. It took civilization about 10,000 years before it arrived at the empirical method, at science. Not all people are scientists and very few of us seem capable of seeing the facts about ourselves. The first step towards that may be as simple (and as hard) as merely acknowledging that one's internal narration is not the same thing as reality.

People have a mistaken notion about miracles - that it involves levitating bodies and walking through fire. But the facts of our existence are miraculous enough. The very odds of your conception - the ludicrously small ratio of successful to unsuccessful sperm, even - are outrageous to the point of miraculous. Think of the vast number of improbable meetings and timely conceptions that trace back thousands of years to your very life - how preciously improbable is your very life? Coming to grip with facts needn't be like a cold splash of water on you and your appreciation of life. It might even sharpen your appreciation for it all.

Until you can turn off the voice, you may want to do what the good folks at Landmark Education suggest. Next time the voice in your head narrates, just say, "Thank you for that."

Oh. And those of you who are saying, "Voice in my head. What does he mean, voice in my head. That is the most stupid thing I have ever heard." That is the voice I'm talking about.


Anonymous said...

I read a self-help book many years ago, Taming Your Gremlin, by Richard Carson. His theory was that many times problems are caused by lousy narrators (which he calls "gremlins"), and has built up a series of exercises and visualizations to help people replace bad narrators with good ones.

Ron Davison said...

that is a well done little book - very simply gets to this point. Fortunately, we live in a time when there are a variety of folks making such points.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Well said, Ron.