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Short and Sweet Summary: Do you have competing voices in your head, like me? They shout over each other and vie for your attention? These voices have a specific job to do. Their job is to keep you safe and they take their job very seriously. But only one voice knows what it’s doing and that’s the voice you need to listen to in the end.
Do you have competing voices in your head? Do your brain and heart have something different to say about everyday occurrences?
Or is it just me?
The voices that compete for my attention these days are my brain, my heart, and my gut. Because I’ve been traumatized by my husband’s death, each voice has a very specific job to do.
Their job is to keep me safe.
And they take their job very seriously.
These competing voices in your head can get into intense arguments with each other when even the hint of instability threatens your environment. Like the conflicting emotions of young Riley in the Disney movie Inside Out, my voices compete to see who can be the loudest and most persuasive.
Because I’ve become so accustomed to protecting myself AT ALL COSTS, these voices shout over each other to make sure I don’t get ever get hurt.
Like. Ever. Again.
My voices don’t like to take risks. Taking risks is too scary. Too dangerous. What if something happens and I get hurt? I mean, shit’s out to get us every day. Right?
Well, theoretically yes. But realistically? Nah. Not really.
The imaginary demons I conjure up are far more hideous than what actually happens in real life.
If you conjure up imaginary demons too you’re most definitely not alone. The key is to determine which voice is worth listening to. Which one makes the most sense and has your best interest at heart?
There’s only one.
THE DREADED FIRST DATE
I decided after two years of widowhood it was time to go on a date. If I’m being honest, I really just wanted to get the first-date-after-the-death hump over with. I had no expectations other than to hop right on over this self-imposed hurdle and get back out into the world.
My neighbor offered to set me up with her husband’s coworker.
Because I was widowed and grieving, I assumed the first date would be a disaster, but I could at least cross that “first” off my list. I planned to bid adieu after our first meeting. I created an exit strategy and my “it’s not you, it’s me” game plan was in place.
Before we even agreed on a date.
Talk about self-sabotage!
Anyhoo… back to the voices.
The first date went surprisingly well. We had a lot in common and he was extremely easy to talk to. He even asked me to go out again before the first date even ended.
What about my exit strategy?
The voices got louder and louder:
My gut was much more persuasive. Even though my brain was screaming like a wounded animal on steroids, my gut voice won over in the end. My instinct basically justified that even though I had a valid exit strategy, he seemed like a nice guy. “Can’t we just see where this goes? We don’t have to decide anything today, or tomorrow or the next day. Just go out with him again if he asks. Let’s play this one out.”
So, I did. I listened to my gut. And we’re still together.
Which competing voices in your head do you listen to? The loudest? Most persuasive?
ARE YOU COMPETENT OR NOT?
These voices lead me to believe I’m not really as competent or capable as I am. Well, the brain and heart voices do. The gut usually comes through in times of dire need to remind me I can do anything I put my mind to.
Do the competing voices in your head do the same?
When I took over running my husband’s chemical business, I convinced myself I wasn’t capable of returning a profit after this death. I mean, I knew nothing about the chemicals he sold or the rust preventative oil formulas he created. Sales isn’t my forte. I figured I was doomed from the start.
So, the voices began…
I listened to my gut again. The other voices were pretty loud and persuasive, but my instinct won out again in the end.
I’ve been running the business for several years now.
I guess I must be doing something right.
The moral of the story is to put doubt in its place. Doubt can interrupt your every move if you let it. Sometimes you just need to listen to your gut’s impassioned plea to ease up on yourself. Not everything needs to be figured out RIGHT NOW.
PARENTING TEENAGERS SUFFERING FROM TEENAGE ANGST
The voices about my parenting style? Don’t even get me started. If you don’t think I’m slightly schizophrenic by now, wait until you hear my parenting voices.
For some inexplicable reason, I assume I’m supposed to know how to do this parenting teenagers gig. And, I’m supposed to know how to do it alone.
But, I don’t.
So, there’s that.
The competing voices in my brain, heart, and gut try to reconcile the fact that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. And each time I figure something out it changes.
What do the competing voices in your head say about your parenting styles?
Do they go something like this:
WHICH VOICE WINS OUT IN THE END?
I try to rationalize a lot of things in my life, but luckily, my gut is the loudest voice and calls me out on my bullshit.
My gut knows, instinctively, that I will get through whatever it is I’m going through because its job is to guide me. Somehow, someway, it will all work out in the end. My instinct knows this. However, my brain and heart are still learning.
But the gut voice is just insistent enough to keep its decibel level above that of my other uptight, anxious voices.
To keep it real, I don’t always believe my gut. As a result, I go running back to my brain and heart when things get really rough because they whine with me. Sometimes I need to whine.
The thing is, my gut doesn’t whine. She whips me into shape and tells me repeatedly that I’m capable, competent, and cognizant enough to know the real deal. While I occasionally whine and complain and cry and throw temper tantrums, I ultimately come back to the voice that repeats the same mantra to me over and over again.
YOU CAN DO THIS.
WIDOW WRAP UP
You’re not abnormal if you have competing voices inside your head. It’s not uncommon to question your ability or doubt that you can take care of things.
Because grief can do a number on you that sabotages your innate curiosity and competence. As a result, the voices inside you have a specific job to keep you safe and they take their job seriously.
But only one voice knows what it’s doing. Your instinct and intuition come from your gut and your gut knows how to keep you on the right track.
The key is to listen to that voice above all others.