Our minds have competing voices – physical, emotional, spiritual, parental, friends, society. These voices are as loud and influential as we let them be. Have you ever stopped to consider who is really speaking to you in your mind?
Here’s Who I Have Heard
During the Boston Marathon, my physical voice spoke the loudest and said things like ‘I hurt’, ‘I’m hungry’, ‘I am out of energy' and 'I want to walk’. During the years I was depressed, my emotional voice spoke loudly and told me things such as ‘you are not lovable’, ‘life is hopeless’, and ‘that person hates you’. A few times in my life, the Holy Spirit has spoken loudly and said ‘pursue this’, ‘make that decision’, and ‘there is no need to worry’. In each one of these cases, there were many voices in my head, often with conflicting thoughts, however, the voice I listened to was always the one that spoke the loudest.
I get to decide
Recently, I began to distinguish between the competing voices speaking to me in my thoughts and learned that I do not have to believe every dumb thing that pops into my head. Some of these voices come from fear, others from old ideas, and still others come directly from my physical body. There are even voices that are simply words parroted from friends or society explaining their version of the truth.
I learned during the marathon that I could intentionally tell myself something (I am enjoying this mile) and put the loudest voice (the physical one blabbing on and on about pain) to rest. It was my decision to listen to the competing voices and pick the one I wanted to listen to.
What are Your Competing Voices?
What voices are you listening to? Identify the voices in your mind so you can determine if they are worth listening to. Here are a few examples of voices that can speak loudly but may not be speaking the truth.
- The voice of fear will tell you to be careful but what are you being careful of? Careful so your feelings will not be hurt? Careful that you do not need to enter into the unknown? Careful that you won’t look stupid to that person over there? This voice will limit all kinds of possibilities. If you answered the question OUTLOUD about what fear you are avoiding, it will probably sound silly. Is it worth missing an opportunity because of fear?
- Your physical voice speaks loudly when you are in pain or sick. Can you trust your pain threshold to tell you the truth? Is an illness clouding your thoughts and steering you towards decisions that aren’t rational?
- Your emotional voice can lead you astray in many directions. It is able to say things that are not true because they stem from emotions only such as envy, greed, passion, hatred, anger, jealousy, excitement, perceived need, impatience or selfishness. Be very careful not to listen to your emotional voice only. This one needs to be listened to along with other voices, like a choir.
- The voice of your parents can speak loudly. Do your parent’s ideas about your abilities reign as truth in your mind? Are you following the rules set out for you as a child and have never challenged the legitimacy of those rules for your life today? I will not doubt the love given you by your parents. It is important, however, to make sure the voices you are listening to have become your own.
- The voice of your peers is extremely influential early in life but some people never get over it. Are you letting the voices of your peers speak loudly to you today? Who are they? Are they worth listening to? Do they care?
- The voice of society is heard by what we listen to in the media. Which media outlets are you allowing to speak into your life?
It’s all in your mind
- The first thing to do is to identify the competing voices in your mind. Then you will know what you are dealing with.
- Then, figure out what they are all saying. Which one is speaking the truth? Which one has your best interests at heart?
- You may need to tell some of the competing voices to quiet down, some to speak up, and some to go away!
- Finally, . . . it’s your mind. You can chose to listen to the voices that will lead you in the best direction.