The inner voice of social conditioning doesn’t just speak in words; it shouts them. “Do it my way! Do not screw this up!” By contrast, inner wisdom is stillness itself. If you’re waiting for wisdom to outscream paranoia, get comfortable. It’s gonna be a long wait. – Martha Beck
I have voices in my head. These voices are my thoughts, thinking at me 24/7. Each one has a distinct tone, personality and history. My mind is like a great, big party full of people who do not necessarily like or know one another, but are connected to me in some way.
At any given time, I could be listening to a voice that sounds like my mother, scolding me for every misdemeanor, real or imagined. Or it could be the voices of my friends, gossiping with one another about me and passing judgment over my appearance, behavior and achievements. Or it would be a governess, reminding me of things I haven’t yet done, and why I haven’t done this thing yet, and how could I be so stupid/irresponsible/lazy/insert derogatory adjective here? Sometimes, a priest or a guru would be there, walking around with a self-help book in one hand and a meditation mat in the other, urging me to be more holy and save the world.
Sometimes, it can get really noisy inside that party hall. All these voices—strident, critical, judgmental, angry, jealous, disappointed, and above all, unkind voices—talking nonstop, jockeying for my attention, calling for more entertainment, and demanding more food. (More fear canapés and pineapple-and-shame punch, anyone?)
But when I step back from the din and survey the party hall, I notice one thing these voices have in common: They are all carrying the same invitation. I invited them to this party, every single one of them. And when I step out of the party hall altogether and go out into the garden for some fresh air, I remember why: It’s because at some point in my life, I believed I needed them. I believed they were essential. At some point in my life, I considered these voices my allies.
And they are. Each and every one of those partygoers answered my invitation because they wanted to help me. In their own misguided way, they are trying to protect me. That’s what the party is about: It’s a “Help Me Survive in This Scary World” party that I threw for myself.
But out in the garden, aaaaah. It’s quiet out here. The grass is cool between my toes. The flowers sweeten the air. The sky is clear, and I can smell the faint salt of the sea, hinting at eternity. Here, there are no voices. No demands, no criticism, no blame, no threats of repercussions. Just energy, acceptance, forgiveness, guidance, and a dose of wry humor.
Here in the garden, there is love.
I really should come out here more often.