Author and journalist Michael Singer writes in his book Untethered Soul
“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind—you are the one who hears it.”
You have a mental dialogue going on inside of your head that never shuts up.
Maybe the following example sounds familiar:
“Shoot, I can’t remember her name. What is her name? Darn, here she comes. What is it… Sally… Sue? She just told me yesterday. What’s the matter with me? This is going to be embarrassing.”
Have you ever wondered why it talks in there? Or where that voice comes from? How does it decide what to say and when to say it?
If you’re reading this and you hear: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have any voice inside my head!”
That’s the voice.
Here’s the thing: if you watch the voice objectively, you’ll notice that much of what it says is meaningless. Most of the talking is a waste of time and energy.
As Singer puts it: “It’s like sitting down at night and deciding whether you want the sun to come up in the morning.“
But if so much of what the voice says is meaningless, why does it even exist?
For Singer, the key to answering that question is understanding why it says what it says, and when it says it.
He offers two explanations:
Reason #1: To release pent up energy
When energy builds up inside, you want to do something about it.
“That voice talks because you’re not okay inside, and talking releases energy.”
Singer compares this to a tea kettle whistling on a hot stove. There’s a buildup of energy that needs to be released.
And if you watch the voice objectively, you’ll notice that it gets especially active when you’re scared, nervous, or feel some strong desire.
For example, it’s easy to see when you’re angry with someone and want to tell them off.
“Just watch how many times the inner voice tells them off before you even see them.”
Reason #2: To make you feel more in control
Perhaps you can relate to this scenario: you’re walking outside during winter, you start to shiver, and the voice says: “It’s cold!”
Now, how did that help you? You already knew it was cold. You’re the one experiencing it. So why is it telling you this?
As Singer notes: “You re-create the world within your mind because you can control your mind whereas you can’t control the world.”
If you can’t get the world the way you like it, you internally verbalize it, judge it, complain about it, and then decide what to do about it.
This makes you feel more empowered.
When your body is cold, there may be nothing you can do to affect the temperature.
But when your mind verbalizes “It’s cold!” you can say, “We’re almost home, just a few more minutes.”
And then you feel better.
Constantly remembering that you are not the voice inside your head but the one who hears it is a key step on your path of personal growth.
“It is a doorway to the depths of your being. To be aware that you are watching the voice talk is to stand on the threshold of a fantastic inner journey. If used properly, the same mental voice that has been a source of worry, distraction, and general neurosis can become the launching ground for true spiritual awakening.”