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  • michelle m. davis

You Be the Driver

If you’re like me, you sometimes hear a voice inside of your head which reminds you of how imperfect you really are. This voice frequently tells you what you should do to remedy all of your “less than” attributes. Maybe this voice focuses on your aging body, your less than kind thoughts, your mindless actions, or other unintentional elements of your humanness. While it’s very natural for us to be discontent with various aspects of who we are, is the unease caused by this voice within – who I will refer to as “she” and “her” – good for us? Does she really help make us become better people?

Perhaps. At times she functions as a springboard to propel us forward, inspiring us to make positive changes in our lives which lead to more fulfilling existences. Yet, unfortunately, what we hear from her may also have the opposite effect. Sometimes when she reminds of our “less than” selves, we remain stuck in unhealthy habits, frozen in the past, and unable to get out of our own way.

I think this occurs when this voice in our heads takes the upper hand, persuading us to believe that she knows best. I envision my voice as a prissy, perfect, and domineering force in my mind that constantly tells me what I need to do – how I should act, what I should say, and perhaps even what I should wear. It’s no doubt that over the years she’s kept me on track and out of trouble. But is this how I want to live my life – constantly hassled by a voice that dictates what is and is not appropriate? And what if she is actually holding me back and keeping me from discovering my life purpose?

To be honest, my voice has always been quite boisterous. She’s nagged me, judged me, and even berated me at times. A part of me is grateful for her as she has made me think twice before proceeding in certain areas, preventing disasters from occurring. Yet, she has also limited me from taking risks and venturing outside of my comfort zone.

Last week, I decided to give this voice a name – an identity – to keep her separate from who I truly am. I’m calling her Margaret. She is tall, thin, has long dark hair pulled into a tight twist, and she wears dark-rimmed glasses. (Remember Lilith from Cheers?) I picture her wearing slim-fitted black pants and a crisp button up shirt. Her jewelry is demure, as is her make-up. Margaret only eats healthy foods, occasionally drinks a glass of wine, and runs ten miles every day. Margaret’s smart, well-read, conservative, and witty. Whatever she does, she proceeds in a deliberate and precise manner. Are you getting a solid picture of Margaret?

However, there is another voice that I’ve recently been hearing in my head. And she is quite different from Margaret. I’m calling her Marlee. She’s fun, adventurous, and uninhibited. Marlee wears a mischievous look on her face. Her hair isn’t pulled back tightly, it’s loose and wild. She dresses in bold-colored clothing that’s Bohemian in nature. Marlee dines on lobster and chocolate mousse, and she loves her Manhattans. She works out when she feels like it. Marlee dances, sings, and speaks her mind. I definitely like Marlee better than Margaret!

And while both Margaret and Marlee have my best interest in mind, I must remember to be present when they are speaking so that I can decipher which voice best serves me in that moment. Do I need to stop and listen in order to avoid an adverse situation, or should I relax, trust, and let go, allowing what is to occur?

Sometimes listening to our internal badgering voice – my Margaret – prompts us to change what isn’t perfect in our life. But is that always the desired solution to our discontentment? There are situations where acceptance is the better option. And by acceptance I’m not referring to “giving in” or “giving up.” This is different – this is not giving anything – instead it is allowing. This implies not controlling but trusting and having faith in a greater power – God, the Universe, Source – whatever works for you.

I struggle with this concept of allowing. My inclination is to try to fix whatever is not perfect. Of course, there are times when it’s appropriate to do this. After all, it’s not healthy to live our lives waiting for another to take care of our concerns, especially those that need immediate attention. The problem occurs when we believe that we must make things perfect – otherwise we will not be enough – that is when the real internal conflict begins. And whenever we struggle against something in life, somehow, we seem to attract more of the exact thing that we’re resisting. But when we trust, allow, accept, and relinquish control, then energy shifts, and the conflict slowly dissipates.

Now that Marlee has entered my inner consciousness, it is my goal is to hear out both voices – Margaret and Marlee. But I get to decide what advice is best for me. I know that Margaret has my best interest in mind – her goal is to keep me safe and out of harm’s way. And Marlee’s there to encourage me to explore, discover, and test the waters. Both serve distinct purposes as they help guide my decision-making process through this life journey. Yet, whether I take heed and proceed cautiously, or if I decide to throw all worry to the wind, that is my choice. And, it’s critical that I’m fully present. I must be aware of who is doing the talking in order to distinguish the two voices.

So, as I proceed on my path, Margaret or Marlee are welcome to come along for the ride. I’m happy to hear their thoughts and consider their viewpoints. But they’re not driving my bus, for when they try, that is when problems arise. I’ll ensure they are safely buckled into the back seat, allowing me to be the driver, consciously choosing where I go throughout this beautiful human experience.


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