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The Voices Don’t Care About Content

cheri_huber

Cheri Huber

Incalculable suffering happens because people believe what the voices in their heads are saying. Person is going along and hears that was wrong or you shouldn’t have or people think you’re… or people don’t like you or you’re never going to have what you want or you’re just not good enough or you can’t or you should or it’s your fault…. On and on it goes with the person feeling worse and worse with each statement. Short film clips of past mistakes and failures are interspersed with predictions of future disasters.

When asked about depression I often respond that I’ve never known a depressed person who is not living with self-hate. I’ve concluded it’s not possible to “be depressed” without the “depressing” conversation of “what’s wrong.” We are all “depressed” when listening to and believing the haranguing voices of self-hate.

Without the voices’ comparison, judgment, negative assessments, criticism and a litany of loss, lack, deprivation and fear, a person is simply in the moment they’re in and there’s nothing wrong. A true story.

But here’s the reason I’m writing to you today. (If you’re a recording and listening person, please record what’s coming and listen to it many times a day until it sinks into the depths of your being, never to be excised by any voice, no matter how pernicious.)

Those voices do not care one whit about the content of the conversation.

The voice in your head talks to you about what you believe, not what it believes. The voice will talk to you about anything you will believe and feel bad about.   

If money is an issue for you, it talks about money fears and woes and mistakes and a future of deprivation—and that it’s all your fault. If you have body image issues, it will talk about how you look, compare you to others, let you know that everything wrong in your life is wrong because of the way you look—and that it’s all your fault. If you have relationship issues, it will point out what wonderful relationships everyone else has, how lacking or inferior your relationships are, how it’s always been that way and always will be—and that it’s all your fault.  

If none of the above is your issue, I’m sure by now you can fill in your version of the torture system!

We have so much trouble catching on to this because the torture is perfectly tailored to each of us individually. Because it’s all done in secret, we don’t realize everyone is suffering within the same process just with different content. Plus, it all started so long ago that by now it’s just the reality we live in. There’s nothing about it to flag us as something we should question. “I am overweight.” “I don’t have enough money.” I don’t have the relationship I want.” What’s not to believe??

Here’s something to consider. A very good argument can be made that our lives consist of what we give our attention to. That voice in the head wants our attention. It lives on our attention. Without our attention it does not, cannot exist. We are trained to give our attention to “what’s wrong.” In this way, our lives consist of “what’s wrong,” and the voice feeding us information about what’s wrong has full control of our attention and our lives.

If you decide NOT to believe that story you’re being told, if you really get it that it’s not true, it’s just something you’ve been trained to believe, then you’re truly free to put your attention where you want it to be, on the life you choose to have.

Here’s the next thing to consider: What might happen to the “issue” the voices incessantly yammer on about if you stopped listening to their yammer? Would those stories be “true” if no one experienced them as true? What would be “true” about your life if you weren’t living in reaction to what’s wrong, loss, lack, deprivation, fear, criticism, and comparison? Might be worth finding out, don’t you think?


living_compassion

About Cheri Huber

Cheri Huber has been a student and teacher of Zen for over 30 years. She is the author of 20 books, the newest being What You Practice Is What You Have, the sequel to her widely-read There Is Nothing Wrong With You. Other titles include The Depression Book, The Fear Book, and When You're Falling, Dive. In 1983, Cheri founded the Mountain View Zen Center, and in 1987 she founded the Zen Monastery Peace Center in Calaveras County. She and the monks at the Monastery conduct workshops and retreats at these centers, other places around the U.S., and internationally. In 1997, Cheri founded Living Compassion, a nonprofit organization dedicated to peace and service. She also has a weekly, Internet based call-in radio show, Open Air.

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