Overthrow your Pretender Voices in 3 Beauty Steps:
Certainly you have experienced the overwhelming chaos of having 7, or so, voices run through your mind every day. Voices sounding so real, so authoritative, so sure of themselves and their assessments. Voices shouting, “You’ve totally messed it up!”, or “You really aren’t worth a thing!” Voices which whisper, “Your house will burn down… you definitely forgot to turn off the coffee pot...”, “It’s totally fine to skip that run...”, or “No need to tackle those dishes tonight, you’ll wash them in the morning before work...” (but you don’t, you totally do not). These voices drive us batty and leave us in a state of despair, desperate confusion, or perhaps complacent and in true delusion. Who are these voices anyway?
The majority of them can be categorized simply, yet complexly, as pretender voices.
Pretender voices take root as we grow, starting early in our childhood. Our parents or caregivers (and overtime, teachers, relatives, peers, etc.) contributed to the symphony of voices by presenting the “reality” of their world, and established that we are residing within the world as they know it.
They taught us how to engage in this world, what to “expect” from it and from ourselves within it. Pretender voices were then crafted to help guide us through this constructed world, but a constructed world from others is not the world as we would see it from our own perspective and naturalness.
With this understanding, we become increasingly aware of the many thoughts, ideas, and sensations running through us on any given day, in any given moment. Each of these sensations strive to communicate something, and desire to be confirmed and affirmed.
Within all these messages there is only Truth and noise.
Our untrained attention interprets these voices as authority, and valid. This leaves us spiraling in confusion of what to do and what is real. For Pretender voices to continue to reign over your truth, they must be reinforced through validation. In this way they become louder and louder as they feed on your energy.
Where then is your voice of Truth? Truth is always present within you, but the voice of Truth, in comparison to the Pretenders, may be quite small, especially to begin with. It will take some work to be able to locate and hone into your guiding Truth in any event.
So, the challenge is separating the two, the Pretenders from the Truth. In order to do so we must hold the fundamental guarantees in place:
+feelings and emotions are inherently safe (and if you are already in disagreement then congratulate yourself because you’ve identified a Pretender.),
+you are worth loving,
+you are cared for, and...
+the universe wants to know how to be there for you!
With this knowledge we begin to separate the fertilizer from the golden soulful strand of truth.
To start, we first begin with awareness.
Initially, we have to be able to listen to the voices, and differentiate one from the other, from another. As we start we may become aware of just one, or a handful of these Pretender voices. It can be helpful to consider these voices as different characters taking the stage to offer a monologue, advice, or a demand. Sticking with this assertion of awareness, you will find a slew of impersonators. There will be scaredy guys and mean gals; voices that berate and call you names; hopeless children and seemingly optimistic manic presentations. There are sweet ones, and lazy ones, and oftentimes voices which appear quite crazy indeed. These Pretenders can even sound logical, so certain and so, so confident. They all are there and there are many plenty.
And so, just observe and witness. To reach a state of observation, we must choose to remain present with our feelings, our sensations, and our thoughts without trying to change or judge what we are observing. These parts of ourselves come up to advocate for their perspective. Responding with anger or disgust is counterintuitive to transitioning these Pretenders. Their proper place is in an advisory role, which allows Pretenders to simply and beautifully orient your engagement with the thousands of possibilities in any given moment. The goal is to train our Truth to speak as a leader, with all other voices helpfully advising. We can reassign particularly dastardly voices into new, more productive roles. You have permission, as director of the show, to recast the voices.
Next… comes active experimentation within our observation.
A Pretender voice takes the stage, we see it and recognize the command it asserts. We have two choices, we can go into agreement with this voice, or we can look for Truth. Neither of these choices are wrong. Agreement with a voice, within experimentation, is an opportunity to observe the outcome of an affirmation. We register outcomes based on energy gains or losses. In this way we come to know our voices on a deeper level, and we begin to enact choice.
Imagine your boss sends you a text message as you are heading home from work. The text states they want to discuss how you handled a situation that day, and they’ll do so tomorrow morning when you come in. Immediately, cue the Pretenders! A mad scramble of voices vie for your attention. You settle into agreement and give spotlight to a voice running around inside of you replaying everything that was done and said in relationship to the situation. You spend the evening with it, and a few others, sitting in anxiety and nervousness, anticipating the absolute worst from the confrontation tomorrow; ready to begin polishing up your resume, preparing for full fall out. You don’t sleep well, you toss and turn all night, and are nauseous your whole way to the “gallows” the next morning.
And, then, when you walk into your boss’ office you find out they were simply concerned you had too much on your plate. To help out, they offer to add another member to your project. You have a nice conversation and leave the office feeling perfectly wonderful.
Taking a second to evaluate, what happened to the energy from initiation to completion?
Well, when affirming the voice that screamed “Doomed!” you certainly lost all kinds of energy, spiraling around, preparing for worst case scenarios. This recognition is wonderful and so helpful because next time-- and there will be a next time when “Doomed!” comes on-- your work will be to acknowledge the appearance of “Doomed!” and turn towards the Truth. You will seek to identify the Truth of the matter, the Truth of the present.
Next time around you may hear yourself offering coaching through the situation and the sensations, “There’s no need to panic, you are doing a great job. Remember last time, it was totally fine, and if there’s anything that you need to change or work on, you are capable of pivoting at any point. No worries, you got this and you’ll handle it a moment at a time.”
Take a second to acknowledge that here and there during this situation “Doomed!” will reappear. Pretender voices have been so reinforced that they aren’t just going to roll over in agreement, and they likely will bring a few friends to try and strong arm you back into their command.
Again, your work is to assert presence with breath, with physical movement, through art, or even through conversation, whatever way works best for you. Go ahead, shine some light on “Doomed!”, and return time and time again to the Truth of the situation as you know it. No matter what comes to pass, you will be ready to respond because you maintained your energy and your presence. And in the end, you will have strengthened the voice of Truth.
In the first instance you fed noise, and in the second you fed Truth. When you feed noise, it is simply an opportunity to orient yourself to what noise sounds like and appears as, so you can have greater choice next time around. When you feed Truth, you continue to assert it over potentially stronger pretenders. In this way, the voice of Truth becomes stronger, and louder.
All that is left to do is stay the course….
By default, Pretender voices have been fed so well. They are nourished each time their stance is affirmed, and they become bigger, louder, and more in command. So, hearing and asserting Truth is not an overnight accomplishment, but a journey of unfoldment and discovery across time. As you begin to listen to the Pretenders, question their intentions, their plans, and think about their motives, you will start to more easily separate the fertilizer from Truth. Keep your eyes out for that little “suspicion”, “an itching feeling”, the “easiest choice” that just feels so hard, wrong, uncomfortable, ridiculous, scary, lonely, embarrassing-- Oftentimes that sensation is resistance, and resistance is an indicator something is up which the Pretender “yous” are wanting to avoid. Uncomfortable feelings that are not rooted in the present moment are most likely Pretenders labeling our Truth as scary. So be daring! Follow the sensation to roll your eyes and groan and whine and stomp your feet. Go through that space and find out what is on the other side. Who is pouting? Is that really you? Remember to take inventory of your energetic state, As Truth is found, and then affirmed, it grows a little louder, and next time a little louder, and then louder still! It is an infinitely-small-step-at-a-time process… and every micrometer is the grandest victory to date.