I recently had a talk with someone about the conversations I have with myself.
I’ve come to an interesting realisation that I think others may relate to.
I’ve been a yoga teacher and a shamanic practitioner for over five years. For the last 20 years or so, I have subconsciously—and recently much more consciously—been dealing with and processing a daily relationship with agoraphobia.
After a traumatic experience in my teenage years, I developed a phobia of what might happen to me if I went outside. Overnight, it seemed that I found the ability to constantly live in fear. Before that time, I was an enthusiastic and energetic soccer kid who loved to perform, sing, and dance—relatively carefree as to what others thought, regardless of whether I would succeed or fail.
Because of this, I have spent hundreds and thousands of hours reading, researching, contemplating, and observing in therapy, trying to better understand the way that my mind works and the difference between the voices in my head.
During the talk I had about the conversations I was having, I explained that I felt like I had two voices that were particularly loud at the time.
On one side, there was the voice that liked to eat unhealthy and endlessly watch useless videos on YouTube instead of meditating or journeying. It’s the same voice that encouraged me to scroll through social media instead of reading books and learning. It also let me watch a complete rerun of the “Vicar of Dibley” or “Friends” (and other series that I had no interest in watching) instead of working on my own book.
On the other side, there was the voice that was aware of how much happier and healthier I was when I meditated daily, kept up with a regular yoga practice, or when I journeyed both for myself and for others. That voice was also aware of how good I felt when I found the natural flow in my writing. It also reminded me that if I eat better, I feel better.
I’ve lived my life at different times in each one of those voices, and I know which one and which life I prefer.
But it was in that talk with my friend that I realised what relationship those two voices had together.
I was asked to feel the voice that wanted me to eat unhealthy and avoid living my best and most powerful life. Physically, my body started to fold and my back started bending so far that I had to encourage my yoga students to be aware. I started to feel heavy in my chest and my throat. And then, I was asked, “How does that voice feel?”
The only way I can describe how this voice feels is that of a cowering dog who keeps pissing himself although he was told not to.
I felt like a dog who didn’t understand how not to piss himself and then would get told off and shouted at by his owner who could instead show him how not to do it. Picture that for a moment.
Do you play those characters within your own stories? I do. At least, I have been. Imagine that vicious, heartbreaking cycle.
So often, we think that the “problem”—in the dog pissing himself story—is in our eating habits, the addictions, and the things we choose to do, but know that they will have a negative impact on our lives. We think the issue is all of those things that stop us from living our truest and most powerful version of our lives on Earth.
However, it is not about the dog at all. It’s actually about how the “knowing” voice treats the other criticizing one.
Like a real life dog who has lived in fear, it is not the shouting, aggression, and frustration that teaches him to not piss himself—it is love, patience, and compassion. It is about the space and time to learn to trust.
The voices we have within our own minds that push us and pull us away from being in our power, from living in our truth and strength are no different. Like the dog who needs to learn and trust that it is okay, so do we.
We can give ourselves love, kindness, and the space to learn that it is okay to be tall in our power. It is okay to be authentic, vulnerable, and to make mistakes—especially when we live each day knowing that we are being honest, true, and doing the practice of standing in our power.
We have the ability to understand why we are scared. Regardless of the reasons why we live in fear, that fear is not our truth, it is not our present, and therefore, does not have to be our future either.
Dogs who cower in the corner believe that this is their life. They have loyal coping mechanisms that work for them in the moment—just like we have learnt in our childhood. But when someone comes along and shows that dog love and offers them understanding and space, they begin to learn a new way of living a happier, vibrant, and more fulfilling life.
We are no different, only for most of us, those two important roles are both within us.
But here’s the thing, there is also a third voice: the awareness voice.
It is from within that we are able to observe and choose how we treat the dog and the frustrated voice simultaneously. It is from this voice that we recognise that both the critic and the dog need compassion and the space to change through acceptance. The third voice is the one that recognises the way we talk to ourselves. It is the observer and the one that can guide us to the truest form of self.
I’m continuously learning to listen to the observer voice, to be kinder to myself, to give myself time to earn a new way of living that isn’t based on fear—fear of what might happen, fear of rejection, and not being good enough.
I’m learning by giving myself permission to love myself with all my aspects. Slowly, over the last years, I am learning that I don’t have to cower in the corner and I don’t need to be angry at that part of me that does.
I can claim my rightful space in my own power on this Earth.