by Christine on July 22nd, 2016
I recently was given the book “Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer. I’m only a few chapters into it, and I’ll likely talk about it again on this blog. At the very beginning of the book, the author talks about the incessant, chattering voice in your head. The voice in your head that comments on everything—especially on yourself. The voice expresses judgement constantly, and it can change its opinions at the drop of a hat. That voice is utterly unreliable. You’ve caught it blatantly lying. It’s not nice.
That voice is your head narrates the world around you. It says, “wow, that sun is really bright.” Did you really need the voice to tell you that? You looked at the sky and already noticed the bright sun—did the voice need to state the obvious? No. Singer claims that the voice’s attempt to narrate the world is actually your psyche’s attempt to place some control over your environment. Because, fundamentally, humans feel uncomfortable when they aren’t in control of their lives and environments.
“If you want to be happy, you have to let go of the part of you that wants to create melodrama. This is the part that thinks there’s a reason not to be happy. You have to transcend the personal, and as you do, you will naturally awaken to the higher aspects of your being. In the end, enjoying life’s experiences is the only rational thing to do. You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience….There’s always going to be something that can bother you, if you let it.”
To me, this has a direct relationship to the voice in my head that narrates what I think about my body. “You’re fat. You’re ugly,” the voice in my head tells me a hundred times a day. “You WANT to swim on a hot day, but you better not get in a bathing suit in public. You’ll make someone sick. If you want to swim, you should find a private place to go instead of the water park.” My voice also says, “You fatty, if you eat THIS instead of THAT, you’ll lose weight.” Or it will say, “If you weren’t so weak-willed, you never would have gotten fat in the first place.” And so on.
I have a very active inner voice, and it’s never nice to me.
I haven’t quite gotten far enough in the book to figure out how Singer thinks you can ignore that voice in your head or transform its voice. He does assert that learning to turn it off, to embrace the present moment, and learn to bear reality as it really is—our actual experience of life right now, not just our narrated version—is crucial to finding happiness. This is a very Buddhist way of thinking, of course, to embrace the present moment. He cautions not to let your inner voice define who you are, since we have already decided that your inner voice is a lying, manipulative, awful voice.
“To attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them… Once you’ve made the commitment to free yourself of the scared person inside, you will notice that there is a clear decision point at which your growth takes place.”