Dealing with the Internal Dialogue
Last time we introduced the internal dialogue as a major obstacle to our progress, not only in the practice of intentional breathing, but also in finding the focus required for a strong life.
We said these “thoughts” from our internal dialogue were not what we call thinking; indeed, they are a murmuring, muttering, conglomeration of thoughts that have no present, functional value, thoughts that don’t stop playing in our mental background, no matter the thoughts you want to have.
Remember the Playlist analogy, …the internal dialogue, like a very old playlist that you continue to hear in the background, while you try to play a new one.
It’s also the noise one hears when taking a test, for instance, thoughts of “I should have…,” “I should know better than to try this…” or worse still, “wonder if I can peek at that student’s test.”
It’s a mental noise that pulls our strings because it knows us, as they say, better than we know ourselves. It’s those moments when we do something we really don’t want to do, but it feels “like the thing to do at the time.”
In many roads to mastery of many sorts, dealing with the internal dialogue is equivalent to dealing with the ego.
Let’s cut to the chase regarding our egos. If they’re too big or if they’re too small, they cause trouble; if you think about it, all the problems in the world could be linked to something like #egos-gone-wild.
Egos are not real and definitely not permanent, they are convenient pictures of our times, help us have identity – a mental construct to help us deal. The problem is egos hate change and don’t take challenges to their judgment very well. This resistance to change is so prevalent, many have even come to call it “human nature!”
On the contrary, Dear Readers, humans survive by change and adaptation, and evolve in the process. Is it human nature to just get comfy or is it egos that don’t want anything new to deal with that make us think it’s human nature?
I imagine there’s something natural about seeking a comfortable status quo, but do you really think that’s been the human drive – to seek comfort – that got us here?
On the other hand, both our ego and our internal dialogue can be helpful when in balance, when we can shut them off and get the answers we need without a bunch of old issues to sort through!
This brings us to an Energetic Fact regarding egos and the internal dialogue. You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.
Furthermore, if one’s ego is over-inflated or under-inflated, or if our internal dialogue limits us somehow, that imbalance must affect our reality.
Does that mean that while I’m too concerned with my image my job performance is failing? Does it mean that my old Mommy issue is going to convince me, whispering in my ear, that I should do something she hates, just to piss her off? Or is my old daddy issue going to blind me to the advice he’s offering me now? And of course, the old favorite, “No matter what, I can’t seem to stop thinking about sex,” no matter what’s really happening around me.
All this affirms the need for intentional breathing and focus, doesn’t it? Not to mention deep healing and breaking the binds that make all the noise.
If you captured a wild mustang or inherited a wild dog, and if you intend to tame it, the first thing you must do is observe it, right? After you know what to expect from the beast, you use your knowledge, discipline and physical techniques to develop the beast into a pet, an obedient pet. If you’re going to take on the wild without knowing all you can first, well, we congratulate your courage, but courage without wisdom has many bad days on the field of battle.
If you’ve ever thought of your ego as inflated, or deflated, or how the noise in your head gets in the way as a bit wild, or out of whack, maybe you’ll intend to tame this beast.
Those of you with the Bible in your backgrounds may remember the verse, “The Tongue is a Fire.” The tongue, clearly a major physical and quite active organ, makes this very real, real to our body and our mind.
For those of you unfamiliar with the verse, the lesson is to control what we say, to control our tongue. One must admit that is good, solid advice, everywhere, in every language and every culture. What if we applied the same approach to the non-stop internal dialogue?
For instance, if you decided to “watch your tongue” better in the future, that would start you catching words before they come out of your mouth. Same again, with the internal dialogue. You’d listen to it, so you could respond better before acting on it.
I say again, you’d listen to it, so you could respond better before acting on it, wouldn’t you?
If your internal dialogue sounds anything like mine it goes something like this, “Need to watch the time…” (without any real reason to watch the time, just too conditioned)… “wonder how the girls are…” (knowing the girls are fine, since I’m always watching after them)… “phone bill is set for Monday, where am I getting the money?” (which may or may not be a real concern, but a common concern, certainly).
Other boring oldies: “I’ve gotten away without making quota for a few months. Will my luck hold out? The look the boss gave me… I should just tell him the truth… (ending with the very frustrating) what am I doing in this nowhere job anyway?” About then a car pulls in front of me and it’s a close call, but no damage. This, however, reminds me of the time I almost got killed that way. “It was close. Should have told the cop the truth about the woman.” Oh yeah, that was about five years ago. Sure, I have a complaint, but it has no application right now, does it? And then, of course, we all have at least one of these, “Maybe I should have listened to my Ma about…”
When we try to silence the internal dialogue, or try to focus on something else, is when it comes at us louder, because it thinks you’re going to change! But even when we’re not trying anything, if you listen, you’ll hear it murmuring all the time.
And if you can listen about 12-15 minutes per day for maybe 10 days you will experience a change or a shift in your daily performance, or at the very least know much better who this beast is.
Should you accept the challenge (it’s good for you to know), being an observer is a skill needed to reach a master level at anything. The closer you get to mastering the internal dialogue, the farther your life will go.
Write down what you observe, what you hear. This will surprise you, although the content, as you’ll see, is old stuff with which you’re probably way too familiar. Next time we can talk about what to do about the noise, but you’ll understand quite a bit about it and will already be working on it by then.
Honestly, I wish I could make this simple exercise such a big deal you’d start right now, because we’ve seen incredible results. Please, let us know how it goes.