You’re moving along nicely in your life and out of the recesses of your mind comes this little voice that starts whispering terrible things about you. “Who do you think you are?” “You’re not smart enough” “Pretty enough.” “You’re not good enough.”
Where the hell does this voice come from? It can’t be ego; it’s too busy walking around like a peacock in full feathers. Is there such a thing as the anti-ego who’s sole purpose is to destroy any sense of accomplishment that you have felt?
Is it perhaps a crueler version of imposter syndrome? It’ s one thing to think you are not as good as your colleagues and that someone is going to find you out, but it’s an entirely different game when your inner self – the self that you rely on to make big decisions – is telling you that you are a loser.
Amy Poehler in her book, “Yes Please” refers to it as the “demon voice”. I don’t think we are born with it otherwise we would see toddlers running around wondering if their diapers made them look fat. They don’t seem to have a care in the world as long as their fed, loved and have warm, dry clothes on. And sleep. Those suckers need a lot of sleep. Hmmm, I could be speaking about my 55-year old self come to think of it. I like those things too but luckily – no diapers yet.
So it safe to assume that we learn this somewhere along the way because I am having a hard time believing that we are possessed by demonic voices. But Amy is correct in that it is a voice of some origin and it talks to you like a best friend but make no mistake, it is not your friend. This voice can turn your day around in an instant with self-doubt, fear and loathing even when you are not in Las Vegas.
Through competition we learn that in order for someone to win, someone else must lose. I am not an overly competitive person. I was never interested in board games where there was a winner and several losers. I was much more interested in games or activities where everyone was able to participate equally. I like to compete with myself and have expectations that with practice I will improve. I think this is confusing to people because when they see a person going after something with focus, they automatically assume that they are competitive.
So we still haven’t answered the question. Who is telling us that we are not good enough? Could it be from our desire to be liked and to fit in? Do we learn that it is safer to keep our thoughts to ourselves in order to avoid ridicule or exclusion from a group? Does this stifling of our true voice allow the negative voice to speak louder?
How can we stop the bully within? I know my internal bully can say some really nasty stuff sometimes. Does everyone have an internal bully that makes them question everything? If this is true, are we all just playing a part in an imaginary script? That seems pretty pointless and definitely not original. Should I get all bent out of shape worrying about what you may or may not think of me?
Where do I find balance between sensitivity to your feelings and the self confidence to not be influenced by your judgements of me? I know, you’re saying, “So many questions Tara, but where are the answers?”
I think it comes down to self reflection and recognizing the spark of divine that lives inside. I like to think of it as a God spark: a little sprinkling of fairy dust if you will. When I become aware of the God spark in me, then I also have to recognize the God spark in you.
How do we get so numb and far away from this truth: anesthetized from our very existence? At some level, we know that we are missing something and try to fill this void with external things. They only leave us feeling more lost and mask the bright light within.
The way out of this cave is to find your own inner light and shine it like a big flashlight on others so that they too, might see the light within. Do not underestimate the power of your inner light in the middle of a dark room.