A Blog about Career Changes, Madness, and My Awful Brain

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Voice in your head is an asshole.

If I had a dime for every time someone told me I thought too much, I would be rich enough that I wouldn't need a new job.

The idea that one could think "too much" always sort of stumped me. How does one think too much? Thinking is something I've always just done....that voice inside of me has always seemed to keep yammering on, always passing judgement, always egging me on. The voice in my head...I always identified it as ME. If I'm not thinking, if I'm not forming words and images in my brain, then I wouldn't be ME, would I.

After all, think about it. Who are YOU at the moment? As you are reading these words, who is doing the reading? Is it a little voice in your head? Or are these words I write going straight into the processor in your brain and bypassing the conscious part of your brain? Ha...maybe it's a bit of both...maybe you were just reading before you got to this paragraph, and then I made you conscious of the YOU in your head, and now your more concious of reading.

So what the hell am I getting at...why all the confusing ME and YOU talk? Get to the point Dan.

Well, the point is that I've been coming to realize just how right everybody is. I've started learning a lot about thought and the processes involved in reason and emotion, and I have been studying up on psychology and even neurobiology in my free time. Okay, mostly Discovery The Brain, Scientific American the Brain, and Psychology Today (as well as a variety of on line articles). Not exactly high brow stuff, but I eat the shit up nonetheless. And it's been absolutely fascinating.

One idea in particular struck me, and it struck me hard: The idea that I am NOT the voice in my head, and that the Voice in my head is not necessarily my friend. Alright, maybe the rest of you made this amazing breakthrough when you were seven...who knows...but it pretty much blew me away. In fact, that may very well have been the point some of you have been making when you tell me I think too much. One of my biggest problems in my life is that I've always let the voice (ME) do the talking, and I've actually believed what ME has been telling me for most of my life.

Again, Dan...get to the fucking point. Your entry is nonsense.

Okay, to help you understand what I'm getting at, we are going to do a little experiment. Trust me, it will be fun.

The first thing you are going to do is put your hand in the air in front of you. No, seriously..do it. Put it up in front of you. Got it in front of you? Good. Now close your hand into a fist. Now open it back up. Easy, right?

Cool. Now here is what I want you to do. Put your hand into the air again, and close it into a fist again. Now what I want you to do is get the voice in your head...that voice that you are probably convinced is you, to tell yourself that you CANNOT OPEN THE FIST. Go ahead...keep saying it in your head. "I can not open my fist. My fist is closed, and I am unable to open it."

Really try to believe it. Try to believe as hard as you can that you can not open your fist. The voice is telling you. "I can not open my fist".

Now open your goddamned fist while the bastard in your head is telling you can't.

What the hell? It opened! Well, of course it did. Because the ME in your head doesn't really control you. Think about all the times that voice told you that you couldn't do something. The times it told you that you aren't smart enough to pass that class. The times it told you that you shouldn't bother going to the gym because you'll never lose weight. The times it told you that you are never going to find someone special in your life, that you will always be too shy, that you will never be able to be the person you want to be.

Well, that voice is full of shit. Not only will it lie to you, it will get in the way every time you have to do something important.

Why does an basketball player choke on the most important shot of the night? Why does a person who knows a subject in and out forget everything when they are put in the spotlight? It's because, even though the brain knows what it has to do, the little voice gets in the way and screws with your brain signals. In truth, sometimes "conciousness" is a burden. When you drive your car, or vacuum your carpet, your body knows what it's doing. While your doing it, the ME in your brain is distracted by other thoughts (what should I make for supper today), so your brain just takes care of your actions. But when things are on the line, that ME gets a little narcisstic, and starts chirping away at you.

"Okay Shaq. No, grab the ball that way....okay, put your arms here and then use that angle to...wait...a little to the left....right...perfect..okay..left arm on the side..right arm behind the ball...just enough force...don't over do it Shaq...here we go. FUCK I MISSED AGAIN. Damn it, I got twenty shots in a row at practice without thinking. Now I'm going to go home to my multimillion dollar home and 3 model girlfriends as a loser. Damn"

Just like Shaq, I think too much. Hmmm.....heh....well, maybe not just like Shaq.

However, I've come to understand that I am more than just that voice, and that in a lot of ways, I am a lot more awesome when I can get it to shut up. It's the reason why I can write a blog entry in about fifteen minutes, and it takes me an hour to write a sentence in a job cover letter. It's the reason that when I get in front of a group and give a talk for fun, the words just flow out of me and I don't have to think about what I'm saying, but when someone asks me an easy question in an important job interview, I choke. It's the reason I can read a book extremely fast and absorb it well, but when I tell myself to concentrate and ME pays attention, nothing sticks.

What about you? What does the voice in your head tell you? Does it ever get in your way?

The point is, the voice in your head lies, distracts, and can otherwise lead you astray. Oh, it has some good points too...it can sometimes tell you how awesome you are, it allows you to plan ahead, and it keeps you safe. It has many evolutionary benefits, which is why we developed it in the first place. But it sure has it's drawback. When was the last time your dog scolded himself for eating too much, or thought his trick was stupid when he performed it in front of a crowd? When was the last time your cat choked when it...uh...had to do something douchebaggy that cats do?

In my next entry, I want to talk about this concept a little further. Specifically, I want to address the reverse situation, where the voice is telling you to do something, but your brain doesn't want to do it. Stay tuned.


  1. maybe psychology is your field, you seem right into this maybe your realizations can help someone else come to theirs, ever think of that?...I wish I could learn to shut off my inner voice from all the negative things it says to me!

  2. Acutally what about motivational speaker....you are amazing at putting your thoughts into words and expressing yourself why not motivate and help others with the same struggles you are going through...especially for teens or adults...hey there's big bucks in it, you create your own hours, and you get to travel!

  3. Psychologist and motivational speaker huh? Ha...maybe. I find it hard enough to motivate myself, let alone others. Also, I'm probably too screwed up in profound and disturbing ways to be a shrink. Hey Too Busy, do we know each other?