Ego is the self we ‘created’ in the absence of knowing who we truly are. We are not egos though, we remain children of God. A Course in Miracles highlights our identity crisis and teaches us how, through mind training, to undo who we think we are to know the grandeur of what we really are. The brain is an instrument of ego and does not know our true identity, thus we have no experience of it. Regardless of where you stand on this, something is not right with our view of ourselves. Last I checked I was just me, but it seems I have the capacity to argue with myself, judge myself and not like me very much. This is illogical.
I think we can all agree that we have one brain. Yet this one brain simultaneously distracts us with its chatter, running commentary, and day dreaming then shames us for our inability to focus. The net effect is us feeling crappy about ourselves. The brain is playing both sides of the net. The irony would be funny if it wasn’t so dangerous to our well being.
Somehow we have come to accept that our one self can be split in two halves that don’t get along and bash each other relentlessly. The anatomical split, of right brain and left brain does not account for this confusion. The right and left hemispheres control different functions but they are not at odds with one another. They are symbiotic.
Psychology was birthed trying to understand this conundrum. Freud personally struggled with his perceived split self. Unfortunately, he never got to the bottom of it and ended up concluding that the psychic split, which he saw as id, ego, and super ego, was our natural state and it was irreconcilable. These parts of self would forever be in constant conflict with one another. He determined that the best we could do is cope or manage the conflict, hence therapy, but we would never be free of it. And sadly our world reflects this conflict. As within so without.
ACIM teaches that peace is our natural state and consciousness is not limited to the brain. Freud did not know how to get to peace in his own mind, so he assumed it did not exist. Belief in the split left us in chaos, drowning in unceasing self talk with no hope for consensus. We accepted as truth the erroneous idea that we can be in conflict with ourselves. From this inner conflict we opened the flood gates of crippling doubt, shame, regret, judgement, insecurity, anxiety, depression and dis-ease. And all hope for peace of mind went out the window.
Bad thoughts meant we are a bad person. In believing we are our thoughts we listen to what they say to learn more about who we are and try to be a better person. We judge ourselves by its words, feel dumfounded by our indecisiveness and insecurity, and shocked by our cruelty. We over identify with its shaming, demeaning and demanding ways, believing ourselves to be small and deficient. Ultimately, we hate ourselves for being both the voice and the self the voice criticizes. We cannot win. This voice program is an insidious double whammy and it is easy to see how we got confused into believing that we are either one or the other or both.
Our current state of healing is just as confused. We work to mitigate the damage of these voices with positive affirmations to counteract the negative ‘self talk’, therapy to uncover what trauma would cause us to think so little of ourselves. We blame parents for their kids attitudes and people for their actions. We have two choices in the current mental model - to overcompensate or succumb, becoming a workaholic or an alcoholic. Either way we end up dancing as fast as we can with no end in sight because these voices never stop. These conflicting voices are making us crazy and we tolerate them because we did not know there was another way.
But Freud was wrong. Blessedly, we are not our thoughts, and that inner voice everyone talks about is not ours or us. I realized this one day while managing my usual daily internal debate over the infamous chocolate croissant. Typically, I would go back and forth with myself, “should I eat the croissant or shouldn’t I?”. It was as maddening as it was unsolvable. Day after day, year after year, no matter how I rationalized my behavior, or what choice I made, the net result was the same - some form of guilt, shame at my weakness and regret. I gave up finding a way out.
Then one day everything changed. The Catch 22 was the tell. My brain cued up the two familiar choices, neither of them where a path to peace. I listened to the devil on one shoulder saying, ‘eat it, you should not deprive yourself, you love croissants’, and the angel on the other shoulder saying, ‘yes, but you know its not healthy and you will regret it later’. The dreaded deadlock. Then, in a momentary flash of clarity, which ACIM calls the holy instant, I realized that neither contestant was me.
Now I had a different problem. If neither of these voices is me, where was I? I always assumed I must be one side of this conflict, so I never looked for myself. I did not know I was missing. Game on.
For starters, if these voices were not mine, I did not have to listen to them. At all. My brain, that had been churning 600 miles an hour at all times for my whole life, shut the f%^& up. I did not know it was possible, nor did I know anything was wrong until it wasn’t. I had a taste of peace of mind. This is why I study the Course.
We do have a true ‘voice’, but we have likely not heard it in a really long time, if ever. In fairness, we did not know that what we were listening to was not our voice. I can tell you that your voice brings only peace, it is not a dialogue but a knowing, it never demands or engages in conflict. In fact, it is only present when conflict is not. Peace is the condition for connecting with our true voice and the God within.
If we are going to find our peace and know our voice we have to stop listening to imposters and poseurs and start getting ourselves together, literally. Therapy is not required to shut these voices down, awareness is. What ails us is not the result of our past drama or trauma. We made a mistake because we did not know any different but now we do. And it is easily corrected.
By practicing identifying who you are not, you learn to see beyond. The Self naturally emerges when we clear away the crap. This is where voice lessons come in.
Lesson #6: Voice Lessons
This is new. The brain has no context for it and what the brain does not recognize it overlooks or rejects. So you must engage here.
Take your time and ponder each one of these ideas carefully. Let them sink in.
One a day, perhaps.
1) The voices in your head are not yours. The two 'you(s)' are the giveaway.
You are not talking to you. We have no need to talk to ourselves. Logically, the idea that we do makes no sense. You are you. No dialogue required.
You are not in conflict with yourself. That is impossible. You are one mind, whole and complete. You CANNOT be in conflict with yourself. That is actually insane.
The inner bitch, inner critic and voice of reason that we are all so fond of are imposters. Poseurs. Not you, ever. And none of them has any good points.
2) Permission to dump all dialogue
If you hear you talking to you, You are the one listening. Don't engage. Dump the whole conversation, it is a block to peace not a path to it.
Beware of seductive content. We care about catching the voice in action not about what it is saying. The content is irrelevant don’t take the bait and get lost in detail. Its a trap. Deciding one way or the other will not bring you peace. Dump.
Develop a mantra as a reminder. ACIM says this (it reads like Shakespeare): When you are tempted, hasten to proclaim your freedom from temptation and say: This thought I do not want. I choose Peace instead.
3) For the armchair shrink in you here is a little logic that you may enjoy as much as I do.
Hearing voices that are not yours is considered psychotic
Splitting your self into two or more separate parts is also considered a psychotic disorder
The way to peace is actually to dissociate (from those voices that we have over-identified with). Dissociation is something that psychologists deem dangerous so, like Freud, they fail to see this as the path to peace.
I hope this blog has you singing a different tune!!!