In our family we have jokingly taken the term ‘inside voices’, rather than applying to the wish for children to not be so loud when inside the house, to relate to the idea that some things that people think should only be spoken inside the head and not aloud for other people to hear. Usually because its’ a bit silly or may require some more consideration and thought before publication to an unsuspecting world.
Although this is just a bit of fun really, it may well be a totally flawed idea.
I became aware the other day inside of my own head, of an interesting concept which has had me thinking since.
I was watching a TV programme, I can’t remember what it was, or what it was about because I try to not worry about remembering such trivial stuff. It must have included people commenting on other people somehow, it may have been a reality programme a documentary or a drama, I have no idea now.
What I do remember is, at some stage listening to the dialogue of people commenting about other people and in my mind changing what they were saying from being about he or she or they to being about me and I.
So that every time someone said something like “she really needs to deal with her anger issues”, in my head I would imagine that the speaker was commenting on them self. It would become “I really need to deal with my anger issues”. It all made a lot of sense. As I sat and watched the rest of the programme I realised that everyone was actually talking about themselves. The traits in another person that they commented on were the traits that I had, or would have, associated with them.
It was quite striking. Suddenly I began to see it happening everywhere. In conversations that I heard, in conversation that I had myself had, in my recollections of conversations that I had heard during the day.
The things people spoke about the most were commentaries on themselves.
I too must do it. This is why I write this blog. It’s not because I want you to hear and learn from it, it is because I want to hear it, read it and learn from it
What if then, the opposite was also true? What if those things that we think about ourselves, the self criticisms, the lack of confidence in ourselves, self hate, what if all of that is not really aimed at us but aimed at others around us?
When I get angry or disappointed at myself, who am I really angry and disappointed at?
I am reminded of a story about the clash of Western and African ways of dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Western Doctors will have people look inside of themselves to find the root cause of the feelings and depression that they feel. They will seek the answer from within. In other cultures the practice is to externalise those feelings, attribute them to external forces and identities, thus freeing the inner spirit and absolving it of blame.
Is this religion? Is this why the belief in a supreme power is so important to so many people? Is it about self protection?
It would be a worthy exercise to flip your script, when talking or thinking about others, instead of saying they or them, he or she, trying saying ‘I’.
When thinking about yourself, instead of saying ‘I’ try saying they or them, he or she. What is that person’s name?
Once we have externalised these feelings and thoughts, once we can see them laid out in front of us, we can begin to deal with them.
Sometimes we may look at a feeling or thought in front of us and realise that is someone else’s issues to deal with, not ours’.
And all of that stuff that we would normally attribute to someone else but now understand is really about us, we can begin to own that stuff and start to deal with it. We know this stuff the best.
If we feel compelled to comment on someone else it is usually because we feel that we know the answer, we know what that person should be doing. We have already externalised it and laid it out in front of us, in the form of other people.
We now know the issue is ours and we know the answers.