Have you ever worked your butt off to get something and then wound up disappointed when it finally showed up? Most of us have experienced this kind of disappointment over and over again, and yet we keep falling for the same illusion – that satisfaction and fulfillment are just around the corner, in some greener pasture, or in the next cool thing.
With enough disillusionment, you may find yourself confused about which way to turn. Have you ever found yourself in an argument – with your own self – about which way to go next? The challenge is common, something we all seem to face – one part of us wants to go one way while another thinks quite differently. In these trying times, the confusion and inner battles over which way to turn can be ever present and ever more challenging.
In times of confusion, the loudest voice often wins – kind of like our current political scene. However, louder isn’t necessarily the same as wiser. So which voice do you listen to more frequently – the softer, quieter voice of wisdom, or the louder, more impatient one? The voice of wisdom seeks that which will truly sustain while the impatient voice seeks that which will fulfill some kind of temporary need. Of course, the louder voice never comes right out and tells you that it is going for something illusory or temporary.
The wiser but softer voice emanates from a deeper place in your consciousness, one that would have you strive for more meaningful inner experience over the more temporal and less fulfilling aspects of the everyday world. This deeper voice of wisdom speaks in terms that I call Soul-Talk.
Even if you don’t hold a spiritual perspective on life, you undoubtedly can relate to the difference between a quieter, wiser self, and a more superficial, impatient and louder self. We each have access to deeper, more meaningful levels of wisdom if we would but listen and pay heed. Paraphrasing something my spiritual teacher once said to me: “the information is available to you, Russell. The real question: are you available to the information?”
Working from the premise that deeper sources of meaningful information are available should we choose to listen has informed my life’s work for over forty years now. When people ask me what I do for a living, and if I get that they really want to know, I usually answer with this somewhat cryptic description: I help people get what they think they want as fast as possible, so I can then ask, “Was that it?”
I’m sure you know the drill. You bust your butt to get that job, house, car, next promotion, or whatever it is that seems oh-so-attractive. Then just about the day you get it, the shine begins to fade, and you soon find yourself asking, “Why did I ever want that in the first place?” Sound familiar? If you have been there, then you may have been guided more by your Self-Talk than your Soul-Talk.
The part of you that hopes fulfillment will be found in the next job, relationship, car or cool piece of technology comes from the less wise and louder part of you. It is your Self-Talk talking. Now perhaps I shouldn’t capitalize “Self,” because that implies a deeper, more meaningful level of self, but if you can look past the limitations of language, you will certainly be able to detect the subtle differences of which I write.
The deeper, more meaningful levels are found in your Soul, your seat of wisdom, hence my preference for Soul-Talk. Self-Talk provides the more shallow and ephemeral advice stemming from the set of conditions and beliefs that you have grown to accept as “the way it is.” “I’m the kind of person who . . .” or “things never work out for me” or “if only I had . . . then I’d be OK.”
You will recognize Self-Talk as the kind of inner voice which has been written about in psychological circles for years. Self-Talk is often critical, a voice holding you back with admonitions of how things couldn’t possibly work out for you, one that suggests giving up before you even try. When something goes awry at work or at home, your Self-Talk may take over, reminding you of all the times when things went south. You may also recognize this voice as one that counsels you in directions that a more wise part knows won’t work – you are working on losing weight and that other voice wants you to believe that one more scoop of ice cream won’t hurt a thing.
Sometimes, self-talk can be simple as “I know better, but I’m going to do it anyway.”
Soul-Talk is the voice I’m striving to listen for more carefully. Whenever I am confronted with challenging life situations, I can usually find the loud, impatient, and, in my case, frequently critical voice wanting me to plunge down a path that has seldom worked out. However, whenever I choose to listen inwardly and carefully, I can usually find that quiet voice of wisdom counseling me to take things more slowly, more compassionately and with an eye toward creating the experiences I truly seek.
My good friends and colleagues Drs. Ron and Mary Hulnick write of this practice in their most recent book, Loyalty to Your Soul. In their language, they call choosing the inner voice of wisdom a process of seeing life through “soul centered eyes.” Obviously, the metaphors are somewhat mixed here, but they work for me in the biblical context of “let him who has ears, hear, and him who has eyes, see.”
If you would rather experience something more profound in your life, ask yourself: to whom are you listening for advice? Are you living life through the eyes and ears of the temporal and ephemeral, or are you looking through your soul centered eyes, listening to your Soul-Talk?