Meg just said something really funny. I haven't said anything. Nicole still hasn't made eye contact with me - does she not like me or is this just the way she is? Laura is cleaning up the dishes from the party. I should have been more helpful like that, I'm so selfish. I could help now. Oh my god, Meg just made another funny comment - she's so charming. I wish I came up with stuff like that. They must think I'm lame. I feel like I'm just standing here. Nicole's boob is hanging out of her dress and I keep looking at it. I ate that hummus, I hope my breath is ok. Have I stayed long enough at this party? Can I slip out now? -- Me. True story from last night.
In case you haven’t noticed, you have a mental dialogue going on inside your head that never stops. It just keeps going and going. Have you ever wondered why it talks in there? How does it decide what to say and when to say it? How much of what it says turns out to be true? How much of what it says is even important? And if right now you are hearing, "I don't know what you're talking about. I don't have any voice in my head!" -- that's the voice we're talking about.
Take the time to step back, examine this voice, and get to know it better. If you spend some time observing this mental voice, the first thing you will notice is that it never shuts up. When left to its own, it just talks. It's actually a shocking realization when you first notice that your mind is constantly talking.
The best way to free yourself from this incessant chatter, is to step back and view it objectively. Don’t think about it, just notice it. It doesn't matter what it's saying, it's just a voice talking in your head. If you're hearing it talk, then it's obviously not you. You are not that voice. You are the one who hears the voice. You are the one who notices that it's talking.
One of the problems is that you're likely to believe what it's saying. But these words are not true ~ they're not The Truth, they're not a fact. It's not a fact that these women in the example from my party last night were thinking I was "lame." But when I listen to that voice, I begin to believe it, which makes me act that way, and then I do end up being lame!
Try this: Suppose you were looking at three objects - a flowerpot, a photograph, and a book - and were then asked, "Which of these objects is you?" You'd say, "None of them! I'm the one who's looking at what you're putting in front of me. It doesn't matter what you put in front of me, it's always going to be me looking at it." You see, it's an act of subject perceiving various objects. This is also true of hearing the voice inside. It doesn't make any difference what it's saying, you are the one who is aware of it. But you are not the voice itself.
There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one who hears it. If you don’t understand this, you will try to figure out which of the many things the voice says is really you, is really the truth. The answer is simple: NONE OF THEM.
If you watch objectively, you will see that when there’s a buildup of nervous, fearful, or desire-based energies inside, the voice becomes extremely active. You'll also notice that at times the voice is actually narrating the world for you ("Look at that dog. Brrr, it's cold out here. I love this song"). This narration makes you feel more comfortable with the world around you. Like backseat driving, it makes you feel as though things are more in control.
This mental manipulation of the outer experience allows you to buffer reality as it comes in. Your consciousness is actually experiencing your mental model of reality, not reality itself. You can control your mind whereas you can’t control the world!! If you can’t get the world the way you like it, you internally verbalize it, judge it, complain about it, and then decide what to do about it. This makes you feel empowered. Reality is just too real for most of us, so we temper it with the mind.
You will come to see that the mind TALKS all the time because you gave it a job to do. You use it as a protection mechanism, a form of defense. Ultimately, it makes you feel more secure. As long as that’s what you want, you will be forced to constantly use your mind to protect yourself from life, instead of living it.
True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection. This is done by constantly remembering that you are THE ONE INSIDE THAT NOTICES THE VOICE TALKING. That is the way out. Come to know the one who watches the voice, and you will come to know one of the great mysteries of creation.
- Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul