The Internal Dialogue
One of my favorite authors in the world, Stephen Levine, writes in his book, A Gradual Awakening, about the conditioned, or survival based, mind. He said, “At the base of the conditioned mind, is wanting. This wanting takes many forms. It wants to be secure. It wants to be happy.” It wants to keep speaking the same old stuff over and over. Behind that internal dialogue, that internal voice, is some good intention you don’t always realize. But, because it believes it is right, it speaks with great authority.
For example, a couple came over for dinner last Saturday. Over wine, pate, cheese and crackers, Jeff spoke about his quest to learn about and deal with his new midlife status. At 50 years old, he regretted not keeping up with people he’d met –– people he’d enjoyed being with and talking to. At this point, he couldn’t remember some of their names. He said sadly, “I let them pass through my life.” Part of his resolve, at being over 50, was never to let it happen again.
Stop That Pattern
This is the nature of the conditioned mind. His yearning and desire for these relationships depressed him and left him feeling disengaged. He automatically repeated this thought and feeling cycle, and noticed it replaying over and over. He looked in wonder and curiosity at his behavior. Yet, he couldn’t stop the pattern.
I asked him why didn’t he make a future time with people? I mean, what happens inside of him when he knows this is a great person, but remains silent. He said, “I keep wondering if I am right? Maybe there are better people.” He complained, “I don’t trust myself. I question myself. I’ve lost self-confidence.”
He believed this internal dialogue. He was compelled to listen to that old doubting voice. Yet, it isn’t only Jeff that has no choice. If you have a pattern of behavior that repeats in your life, you have the same thing with different circumstances. If you’re not sure you have an internal voice of your own saying things to you, imagine me telling you “you have an internal dialogue”. Then, wait! Listen to what you say to yourself next. Your inner voice might even say, “What internal dialogue?” Whatever it says, that’s it.
Remember, if you can observe it happening, you can disregard or re-choose your next step. What Jeff needs to do is to recognize his thoughts and feelings and let them pass through. He needs to stop resisting them. I find this easier said than done. It takes a lot of attention and focus on my part. It’s an internal skill that takes practice to install. After all, don’t most Boomer’s want skills that will allow them to change their unwanted patterns? What pattern are you trying to change?