How is it possible that we can be having the most beautiful experience, and yet in less than an instant, our mind ruins the fun by voicing an unwanted opinion or projecting an unpleasant image right in our face?
For many of us, not even a minute can go by without our mind reminding us of an argument we had earlier in the day, the project due tomorrow that we haven't started, or how we'll never achieve our goals because we just don't have what it takes.
We occasionally have glimpses of freedom, but those are few and far between. For the most part, negativity runs the show, affecting our relationship with coworkers, our relationship with loved ones, and most importantly, our relationship with ourselves.
If you haven't noticed, the mind can be a serious party pooper.
Many common teachings agree with this, and go on to say that if the thoughts are so bad, we better make them good. Positive thinking, affirmations, and "how to get what you want" have become the norm in personal development and self-help.
But very few teachings question why we have this voice in our heads in the first place. Where does it come from? Why does it say what it says? Most importantly, what should our relationship be with this voice?
Perhaps with an understanding to these questions, we'd find the freedom we're looking for.
Where does the voice come from?
From a very young age, we begin to orient ourselves in the world by identifying with the people, objects, and situations around us. We go to our infant minds to make sense of the scary world in hopes to stay safe and protected. This orientation in relation to our surroundings gives us a feeling of security in a foreign world.
How do we know this? Try taking a toy away from a baby and watch its reaction. According to psychology, you're not just taking the toy away. You're taking with you that baby's identity. In other words, the baby used its mind to identify with the toy, thus making it feel secure.
Fast forward ten, twenty, thirty years, and we're still clinging to people, objects, and situations to reinforce our identity. To prove this once again, imagine if something you really valued - your job, your house, your significant other - was suddenly taken from you. Your mind would freak out and do everything in its power to restore the order it once knew.
That voice is your mind trying to hold onto what it knows and protect you from the unknown. The problem is, it's smarter today than when you were a baby, so it's able to do a lot more talking.
Why does it say what it says?
The voice we're all familiar with is our mind's attempt at getting the people, objects, and situations around us to be exactly as we need them to be in order for us to stay safe and protected. That's why it never shuts up. That's why it always ruins the party. The truth is, in the scheme of the unfolding of the universe and our minuscule place within, our mind has no clue what it's talking about.
Instead, it takes the very limited data set it has from the time we've been alive, goes to its memory bank, and says things like, "you were happy when you lived next to a beach, so you better move back. You were heartbroken when he left you, so stay away from men at all costs. You felt sad when she yelled at you, so don't let her come close ever again."
The voice you hear is the mind constantly trying to figure out how reality ought to unfold in order for you to be okay. But clearly, it doesn't know what it's talking about. Clearly, it gets in your way more than it helps you. Otherwise we wouldn't be discussing this topic.
Unlike when we were babies, we don't need this false sense of protection anymore. We're already okay. In fact, we're more than okay without this voice. The voice is the very thing keeping us from feeling peace, joy, and love.