That little voice

At the end of 2018, my son and two buddies went to Europe for seven weeks. They had fun, went a bit loco, and managed to come home in one piece. How did they manage to party their way around Europe and come home unscathed? I’d say there was an awful lot of luck involved in that outcome but he stepped up to be the one who checked on the whereabouts of passports, tickets, money, and travelling companions who may have wandered off. He got them to t heir flights, their train connections, and accommodations. I was really proud of him and feel a lot more comfortable about him travelling now. {Well maybe not now, ask me when Covid is a distant memory!}

He confided that a few days into the trip, he became the ‘mum’ of the group. I had officially become the voice in his head.

The old inner critic gets a bit of a bad rap. Having that voice in your head isn’t all bad. Sometimes that voice can be useful but that depends on where it came from. My son could safely use my voice as his inner critic because I’ve only ever had his best interests at heart. Anything his inner-mum is going to say to him will be loving and safe and he knows if he ignores it and trips up, the real mum isn’t going to judge him, she’ll just jump in and help him fix everything.

Who is your little voice?

My own inner voice was similarly safety-conscious and sensible thanks to my own parents, but it came with a side order of good-ol’ fashioned Gospel Hall-style judgment. The mean voice, courtesy of church people and teachers, was also trying to keep me ‘safe’. “Don’t try to be what you’re not” was keeping me “safe” from getting too big for my britches. “Women can’t be leaders or teachers of men!” was keeping me “safe” from trusting my gut and standing up for myself, and other women and girls. “Those people won’t like you,” was keeping me “safe” from the ‘wrong’ kinds of people, whoever that maybe, lest they lead me astray. “Don’t try to stand out” was keeping me “safe” from success, because according to history success can make you a target.

What my early influencers forgot to tell me was that all of the above is unavoidable, and sometimes essential, if you want to live a life worth living, so we have to train our inner voice to work for us.

With the right training, our inner critic reminds us when we’re saying yes when we want to say no. It can guide us towards positive experiences and away from people who we know are going to hurt us or our careers. When we unpack our baggage and understand the false beliefs we’ve taken on board we can listen to the voice as intuition.

Regular readers will know I’m a huge fan of journaling. There is nothing like it for taming the negative inner voice. I write 3 pages, stream of consciousness, long hand every morning. Just write whatever mush is going around in my head. (I got the idea from Julia Cameron’s book The Artists’ Way. She calls the practice Morning Pages.) Seriously, if you’ve got that loop that plays over and over in your head, there is nothing like journaling to contain it and turn it into something positive. This is perfect for creatives but everyone will benefit from it. The important thing is to remember not to get caught up in the story. Dump and run!

Once again, I am going to throw down a challenge. Join me in writing each day, journaling daily – 3 pages, long-hand, stream-of-consciousness writing. Writing whatever comes into your mind, even if it is simply describing everything in the room.

Whatever comes up and with no judgement and no resistance! Write it down then burn it if you have to, like medical waste, but just write it. Write all your secrets and your shame. If it’s too bad to write, imagine the damage it’s doing to your insides.

Another great technique and a useful prompt for your journaling is the Emotional Guidance Scale by David R Hawkins and popularised by Esther Hicks. You can move through the emotions, starting at your current point and working your way towards the top with sentences. For example, when I was working in the Dream Job, I often felt rubbish about my self and my place at work. I’m horrified now at how often I was in fear and grief, jealousy and insecurity and had to use this scale to bring myself up to Joy. Sometimes I was so wretched I couldn’t get past Hopefulness or even Contentment.

Page 114 Ask and it is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks

I used the technique this morning in my pages, focusing on the frustration and Overwhelm I’m feeling around setting up direct sales of my books here on the website. I worked through Pessimism (I don’t know why I am bothering because no one wants to read my books…) Boredom (argh, I just want to get back to fiction writing and not waste my time on this shit!) and so on and so forth until I got to the JOY of knowing that once I have learned this and set it up, I will feel so knowledgeable and empowered, and I’ll have the freedom of selling my books and building my audience.

The original emotional guidance scale by David R Hawkins. The link to the OP no longer works unfortunately.

A word of warning to all would-be journal-ers: I don’t want to be too dramatic here, but this will change your life. You have been warned. When I first started journaling, some truly ugly stuff came out. Stuff I wouldn’t like anyone else to read. I am lucky, my family won’t read the stuff I ask them to read let alone go poking around for my word vomits. You have been warned, Morning Pages will change your life and your art.