I was talking to a friend of mine in his pet store the other day. Sam has a fish tank with the most exotic tropical fish. Those fish as beautiful as you could imagine, with flashing purples, neon blues and golds, all of them lit up more brightly than the lights in Times Square. Staring into the fish tank, I said to him, “Wow, those fish get to live so peacefully in all that silence.”
“Who’s living rent-free in your head?” Sam asked me with a laugh.
I turned to him. “I always have a committee of voices in my head telling me what I’m doing wrong and what I should be doing better,” I said. “Don’t you?”
“I used to have that committee but I fired them,” he said.
“How did you do that?” I asked.
“Well,” he began, “let’s say that every morning, you get a phone call from some guy – a complete stranger – who says, ‘You’re stupid! You’re ugly!’” Sam began. “You’d hang up on him, right? Well, hang up on those voices. Don’t listen to them!”
He was right, of course. Why do we listen to those negative voices in our heads? Why do we give them power?
This is what Peace Pilgrim (and more about her in later posts) meant when she said, “If you realized how powerful your thoughts are you would never think a negative thought. They can be a powerful influence for good when they’re on the positive side, and they can and do make you physically ill when they’re on the negative side.”
Those voices are negative chatter. They are not speaking the truth. We don’t have to listen to them. Like Sam, we can learn to hang up. We can replace them with voices that tell us, “Your best is good enough! You’re doing the best you can!” And then we can listen to the calm stillness, the cascading water, a beautiful sonata.
What voices do you listen to? Who speaks to you in the privacy of your own mind?