8. The Voices Inside Us

There is a complimentary Keycast to this Blog Key, “The Voices Inside Us”, which can be found on the Keycast page.

We are about to look at something I’m sure we will come back to again and again in future Blog Keys and Keycasts. The reason is two-fold. Firstly, because these voices will be with us for the rest of our lives. Secondly, because to know ourselves, to truly know ourselves, we must learn the art of navigating these voices. This will help us to answer those tough questions like, "What do I want to do with my life", "How do I really feel about...", "Why am I here, what is my purpose?", "How do I raise my self-esteem?". Hopefully, the path to be able to answer these kinds of questions will become clear as we go forward. One voice will take us deeper into knowing ourselves and finding inner freedom for outer changes, while the other can be a distraction to this.

The voices I’m talking about are the "Head Voice" and the "Heart Voice". In the picture above you'll see the "You Now" sitting in the middle of these two. This represents you, the ever-present you, the you in the here and now, the one who can consciously choose to travel along the seesaw to either of the voices. The "You Now", is the one who chooses to sit in that controlled environment we've learnt about and practice your mindful breathing. The "You Now", is in the driver's seat. This is important to understand because both of these voices want our attention and they go about it in very different ways. Both are saying, "Let's talk", and you must decide where your attention goes.

Your Head Voice

The first voice needs no introduction to most of us as it’s the one we spend most of our lives talking to - we discuss our shopping lists with it or lunch choices, how we’re going to challenge our work colleague over something they did that upset or annoyed us, or how we’re going to explain to our boss that we would like a promotion or pay rise. It’s the voice that convinces us that the most awful things are going to happen even when nothing has yet happened. It’s the voice that makes tomorrow, next week or the rest of your life seem impossible to deal with and face. It's the voice we hold hands with as we dance a waltz into the depths of oblivion and depression. It’s the voice we bargain with over whether or not we should come clean and tell the truth, or with whom we go over and over our darkest inner secrets with. It's the one we play, "He loves me, he loves me not", with. It’s the one we talk to when trying to decide if we’ve upset or hurt someone as we try to understand their behaviour, be they a friend, our family or a lover. It’s the voice that questions whether we’ve dressed appropriately as we’re approaching that first date with someone we hope likes us. It is the voice that questions if we did enough to get the grades we needed when we were about to read our exam results. Have I given enough examples?

I am talking about that lodger in your head. The one that narrates your entire life. It is this voice that supports you one minute, disagrees with you the next and then has no bloody idea only minutes later - you can put those in any order you wish! 

Secret number one: This voice, is not the real you. It is made up of feedback loops from emotions and memories of experiences past.

"There is nothing more important to true growth than realising that you are not the voice in your mind - you are the one who hears it. If you don't understand this, you will try to figure out which of the many things the voice says is really you...... The answer is simple: none of them."

~ Michael Singer ~

From here on in I will refer to this one as your head voice.

Your Heart Voice

Now for the second voice. This, for a lot of us, is harder to know or hear. We do know it and we do hear it or at least sense it, but its character traits are vague to those who do not regularly practice forms of mindfulness or meditation. Unlike the head voice, which can be like that child who constantly yanks on your clothes begging for attention until your frustration drives you to give it, this voice is patient, constant, peaceful and speaks the truth. It is not driven by the ego like your head voice. This voice is driven by freedom.

This is the voice we feel. We sense. We use it to consciously tap into our unconscious. How we do this, I'll come on to later. For now, understand it is this voice we need to learn to commune with as we continue to understand ourselves at a deeper level. This voice is a key to inner healing, to changing outer habits, to changing negative thought loops that control the head voice, into positive ones.

It is this second voice that we find so hard to describe. See if you recognise any of these examples. “I can’t explain it, it’s just a feeling I have”. “It’s my gut...”. “I just have a sense that…”. “It’s my intuition”. “I just feel it, like, down there”. Any guesses where this voice lives?

Yes, it is this “down there”, where you’ll find this voice. In your stomach, your centre, your soul or spirit. Rather interestingly this is also where your third chakra sits, the yellow one. It’s this chakra that governs our will, our ability to choose, to be balanced, make choices. 

"You start by listening, listening to your heart. Then you start to manifest it in the real physical world."

~ Paulo Coelho ~

Secret number two: This voice is the real you. It has a hotline to your heart, your soul, buried, forgotten treasures of desires, hopes and dreams and importantly, to your inner child. 

From here on in I will refer to this one as your heart voice.

With the introduction to the two voices done, let’s talk about their preferred environments and then we’ll move on to how we navigate them, and we’ll finish with how to get better acquainted with your heart voice through your mindful breathing sessions.

The Environments

The head voice loves the environment of noise. The heart voice loves the environment of stillness. The head voice lives to distract. The heart voice lives to set free.

The head voice needs constant stimulation and attention. It is either talking to you or using distraction techniques - anything it can do to stop you from ignoring it. It has an insatiable appetite for attention. It also has a real fear that you'll ignore it and turn your attention to your heart voice, tuning it out and starving it of control. For example, whenever you think about going to your controlled environment to spend 10 or 15 minutes in mindful breathing or meditation, you can guarantee your head voice will come up a whole list of things you should do first. Similarly, when you just want to sit quietly in your own company, there will be a to-do list that magically pops into your head! And before you know it, a week has gone by and you've not done any mindful breathing and not visited your controlled environment once. The wandering mind, the anxious mind, the busy mind, are all variations on a theme of environments your head voice uses to keep your attention on it and keep you focusing outwards of yourself. Anything to stop you from taking time to shut down and focus inwards on yourself. This environment is also one that for the most part triggers your SNS, (sympathetic nervous system).

Your heart voice, on the other hand, lives in an environment of stillness, tranquillity, calm, peacefulness and triggers your PNS, (parasympathetic nervous system). It is in this environment where you have tuned out the noise of life, the constant flow of words of the head voice, the demands and pressures of day to day living, so you can focus inwards. Only here, can you start to hear this voice and learn what it sounds like and what it feels like.

Secret number three: Neither voice can properly be heard in the other's environment.

"We can connect to the heart when we are in silence. We live in the noise, and we are so busy all the time, there is no time, no space, no silence for the heart. That is why people meditate or pray, because they need that space, that moment, when you listen to the heart."

~ Isabel Allende ~