I live with a crazy person who rarely stops talking. If I don’t purposefully shut her up, she will monologue from the moment my eyes flutter open in the morning until I finally fall asleep at night after fighting insomnia due to her incessant fretting and scolding.
Her name is Simone and she lives inside my head. I call her by name to differentiate her from myself. Because if I am not careful, I will believe her rolling commentary and it is not pretty.
You might wonder how a born and bred Southerner like me chose a name like Simone. I wondered that myself for a long time. I thought I must have read it in a racy book or heard it in a French indie film.
As it turns out, Simone self-identified. In her defining insidious way, Simone infiltrated my brain and announced herself. I only realized this recently when it occurred to me to research the meaning of the name. Then I understood what had happened. Simone means “heard” in French and American definitions and, in Hebrew, it means LOUD. And she is most certainly heard loudly by me.
But I digress.
Simone is a master when it comes to diagramming sentences. She loves to carefully scrutinize every verb, noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction and interjection of every sentence I have spoken. She likes to think of herself as Editor Extraordinaire of My Life. She carefully analyzes each word and its placement in any given sentence or thought and then uses this information to harass me on such topics as:
Why did you say THAT?
Oh, my goodness, did you SEE the look on her face when you said that? She thinks you are an absolute IDIOT.
Geez…Why did you wear that? You looked like a total FASHION CATASTROPHE.
In addition, Simone just happens to be clairvoyant. Her crystal ball oracles a future so ominous that it makes Dorothy’s little run-in with the Wicked Witch look like a sunny afternoon tea party with girlfriends.
She usually starts with, “Oh, my gosh, I cannot believe you said that. You will no longer have any credibility in this job.” And by the time she has completed her prophecy, I have lost all my jobs with all my clients, am completely unemployable, without a home or car, bereft of all friends, family and colleagues, and am living a dark, destitute, lonely, cold and hungry life in a tattered tent in the middle of winter in Siberia.
My aim these days is to silence Simone and, with a little help from my friends and teachers, I have learned a few ways to do this. On the off chance, that you have a voice inside your head, maybe this will help you, too.
* Give the voice a name. This is a gentle reminder that the voice is NOT you. It is just something inside that feels the need to bring words to your daily experience. Everything from the observance that it feels cold or hot, hungry or full, happy or sad, to the judgment of all that you think, say or do.
* Again, really realize the voice is not you. I know that sounds strange, even difficult to comprehend, but it is true. It is not you – it is simply a voice that wishes to ruin your life by robbing you of the present moment.
* Speaking of which, realize that this being human is a temporary, but precious, thing. The continuous scrutiny of our history is unnecessary. And the future is completely unpredictable and not worth worrying about. Mark Twain famously remarked that most of what he worried about never happened. (Okay, some of mine has…if you must know.)
This last point really hit home with me when I comprehended that Simone NEVER shows up in the present moment. NEVER. She finds her home in the unchangeable past and in the unpredictable future. I never hear her when I am enjoying the present moment at a romantic dinner with my husband or reading a great book or laughing with friends. She is deadly silent when I am in the middle of an insightful movie or trying valiantly to balance in Royal Dancer Pose at yoga. And, honestly, she is fitfully silent right this moment as I am truly enjoying writing this expose of her as the con artist she is.
* Consciousness helps to quiet the voice. That is why I think it helps to to assign it a name. Then when you hear the voice, you can say firmly, “Simone, I know you are trying to get my attention but I refuse to listen. Your chatter is nothing but destructive.”
* When my yoga teacher teaches meditation, she instructs her students to use the Buddhist term, “Dukha,” meaning “suffering” when the voice attempts to distract us. Simply whisper “Dukha” when the voice begins to assert its false credence that we are tempted to give this voice. Name it what it is and cease the suffering.
* Just breathe. Wherever you are, take a few centering breaths and focus your full attention on counting. Try six counts breathing in the good and six breathing out the not so good. Over time, your breath will provide the mechanism to release the self-defeating voice within.
As often as I can, I ban Simone to my sixth grade English class with Mrs. Lee in a hot, old school house in Eastern North Carolina. If I can keep her head down with all the sentences Mrs. Lee made us diagram, she doesn’t have time to bother me.
And I am a lot better off without her. All of us will be.