The Voice In The Head

Everybody has one. It’s annoying and it’s persistent. It likes to talk. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the voice in the head! Some are chattier than others, some are louder than others, and some are angrier than others. Some sound saner than others. Honestly, though, most people think they’d be locked up if other people heard their voice in the head. I know because people tell me. It’s like a confession. They get quiet and look around, even though we’re in a small closed office with a fan. I start laughing. So maybe it makes you feel better to realize you’re not alone.

The main thing to know regarding the voice in the head is that it’s not you. The other main thing is that you don’t really have to believe it. It’s usually just having a conversation with itself about some scenario that’s been played out a thousand times already. Whenever you notice it, just stop. Then there is silence. Then you note what you’re reacting to or thinking about, and you ask yourself if you need to do any conscious, active thinking about it. If so, do it. If not, go about your day in peace. And when you notice the voice in the head return, as it will, just stop again. Let it go. Silence. Is there anything you need to do any real thinking about? If so, do it. If not, go about your day in peace.

There’s no need to get into what it is or where it comes from. Just know that it’s this annoying thing that gradually loses its power over you the more you practice stopping. Mine still talks all the time, but it doesn’t carry much weight anymore. It’s been so long, in fact, since it did carry weight that I’d forgotten about that until maybe a couple months ago. Somebody was talking about their voice in the head being loud and angry. I was probably thinking something like, “Man, that would suck.” Then I remembered that mine used to be the same way! Now it’s like a jack-in-the-box. Children are afraid of it, but adults laugh at it. No big deal.

A very practical tip is to not get frustrated whenever you notice it. Just stop. It really is that simple. When I started this practice – becoming aware of the voice in the head and then stopping – I would get frustrated that it kept coming back. I’d stop, but with a tinge of annoyance and even embarrassment that this insane conversation was going on. I was fighting it. After a while I realized there’s no point in feeling annoyed or embarrassed. Just stop that, too! Picturing a stop sign can help for the visual folks out there – whatever works for you. Either way, you have silence in an instant when you stop. You might even laugh sometime when you do this.

So let’s wake up to the fact that the voice in the head is really no big deal. Just stop. If you need to really think about something, then do it. But real thinking and the voice in the head are two very different things.