I’ve come to understand that all the chatter inside my head is not useful.
A few years ago, when I first started therapy, I had a breakthrough. I was panicking about my to-do list, about how I’d power through the beginning of a week, running on the reserve of energy I gathered over the weekend, and experience this intense despair by Wednesday evening.
My therapist suggested that I was setting this unreachable bar for myself. No one else was asking these things of me. That it was completely unfair because even though I would reach my mark, completing my to-do list, it would never be enough. My mind would turn right around and find the next thing to obsess about accomplishing.
If I sound dramatic, it’s because I
My therapist said that instead of becoming more efficient / effective / productive, I needed to learn to deal with the anxiety of not accomplishing things. Because that is the actual state of our days – things need doing, things get done, and we start again. There will never be a day that everything is Done.
When I read Hand Wash Cold it reiterated this idea. That I am here to do (and not freak out about) things like laundry, paying bills, and kissing my husband. That these daily tasks were a path into self-awareness and a type of enlightenment. Very much the basis of the human experience. To love, to be.
That was a light-bulb moment.
Then I found Byron Katie and her ideas of questioning our thoughts. That when we attach to, and believe, our thoughts, we bring ourselves into chaos. That negative feelings are a reflection of our mind believing thoughts that do not line-up with reality. She’s created something called The Work, which allows people to question and reconcile their thoughts with the world.
That was a light-bulb moment.
And now I’m reading The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. From the start, Singer focuses on the idea that you not only don’t have to believe your thoughts, you don’t even have to listen to them at all.
Our inner dialogue can be like living with a manic-depressive, a crazy roommate who continually grabs our attention. Singer suggests:
“The best way to free yourself from this incessant chatter is to step back and view it objectively…the only way to get your distance from this voice is to stop differentiating what it’s saying. Stop feeling that one thing it says is you and the other thing it says is not you… You are the one who hears the voice”
I am not the voice. I am the one who hears it.
An holy wow, doesn’t that create some distance between the craziness in my head and the gorgeous view of life I have when I’m not feeling insane?
It never occurred to me to disregard the internal chatter completely. To just separate from it, in my mind. To stop arguing with it, or trying to soothe it. To just, be.
As I’m reading, I understand.
“True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection”
WIth each lesson learned, with each experience, each light-bulb moment, I am moving away from controlling an protecting myself, to living my life.
And it feels really good.