Which voice do we listen to?

Image: Anna Sastre

Those cartoons that show the character contemplating a decision with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other is an accurate depiction of what actually goes on, is it not?

I’ve always heard, “Listen to the still, small voice inside.” Makes sense at first. But when we’re in the heat of life, we clearly hear (at least) two voices pulling us in opposite directions.

A question I’ve long pondered is, which voice should I be listening to?

We have one voice which seems to nag us. It has a manipulative tone. It insults us and berates us, and urges us to do things that don’t make a lot of sense. There’s a lot of charged emotion in this voice. Like the high-pressure salesman who hits our emotional triggers as he leans forward in his chair, sweat beading down his brow, reeking of body odor, cigarettes, and a hint of cheap whiskey. When we fail to go along with his requests, he resorts to cheap tactics and hits below the belt.

This is the ego-voice. It feels easier to just give in to this voice. If we do it, maybe s/he’ll stop.

But then there’s the second voice. They nailed it when they described it as ‘still’ and ‘small’. It never seems to raise its volume. It stays even keel, even in the hairiest of circumstances, but its tone is powerful and clear. Lucid and warm. Calm but assertive.

The voice we should listen to takes the tone of that friend we don’t like to hang out with because they justly call us out on all our foibles and hold us to a higher standard.

We go home and hear it saying words like, “You totally didn’t show up the way you knew you could have there.”

It drives us nuts because we know it’s right. Every time. We could hear it in the moment, but it refuses to attempt to speak above the ego voice because it knows we can only hear it from our own volition.

If it had to do any convincing, it wouldn’t be truth.

Truth doesn’t convince, it just is.

This second voice is the one. When we start acknowledging it, we hone our ability to hear it loud and clear in the heat of the moment. When we start following it in real time, the ego-voice goes and finds another car lot to prowl.

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