In a Seinfeld episode, Kramer tells George to listen to the little man inside him. George replies, “My little man is an idiot.”
Not that I usually recommend taking life lessons from George Costanza, but he may be right on this one. We are often told to listen to our inner voice. And that’s fine if you have one inner voice that is wise and rational. But that’s not always the case.
For example, when I need to make a tough decision or face something that scares me, there’s a village of inner voices crying out:
Inner Cynic: What would be the use of doing that?
Inner Critic: You know you’ll fail!
Inner Scaredy-Cat: You might be get hurt, embarrassed, go broke, get fired, or die!!! (Yeah, you might be the first person ever to die from a library-related decision, but it will surely happen!)
So, not every inner voice provides calm wisdom. One of the hardest things for me is to winnow through the voices to decide which ones provide real guidance and which ones are merely scaredy-cats.
I am still inundated with the other voices telling me it’s a waste of time, money, effort. I still have moments when I think i’m too old, too weak, too dumb, too (fill-in-the-blank) to try something new. But I am now also beginning to realize the real voices as well: the initial ‘yes’ that precedes the howling mental scaredy-cats. Or the idea that keeps returning no matter how many times those inner critics say to give it up.
It would be nice if everyone had that still inner voice that unfailingly guides them. But for people like me and George Costanza, we have to learn to ignore the inner idiots who get in the way. (And I do think I’ve done a better job at that than George ever did!)