The Inner Voice
Charles Baudelair was a French poet, essayist, art critic, and translator. He is considered one of the most compelling and somewhat controversial poets of his time. He was also something of a humorist, albeit an ironic one. Take, for instance, his quote on the inner voice we all have. “Nature… is nothing but the inner voice of self-interest.” [Fans of the movie “The Usual Suspects” will also recognize another quote from Baudelair, though they may be upset that it did not originate with Keyser Soze: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.”]
One of my favorite Baudelair quotes is this: “The whole visible universe is but a storehouse of images and signs to which the imagination will give a relative place and value; it is a sort of pasture which the imagination must digest and transform.” We all have an inner voice, that thinking in words that can build us up or tear us down. I think of the inner voice much like Baudelair’s description of the universe – a storehouse of images and signs to which we give relative place and value. How we value those thoughts determines whether or not it is a pasture for gardening our soul or a cemetery of our hopes and dreams.
Often mistaken for multiple personality disorder which is actually a diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder, we can sometimes think we are suffering from schizophrenia because of our inner voice. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. It is important that we make certain our inner voice is being honest and not exaggerating reality. It is also important that we retain our connection with the real world and not become caught up with imagined problems.
Our inner voice is important. It can be a great instinctual device that guides us but it can also be self-defeating. We may hear our inner voice say we are the most stupid person on earth. Rest assured you probably are not. Writer Napoleon Hill once proclaimed “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” That can be a good thing; it can also be a destructive voice if we are hearing negative thoughts.
An Advisor to President Franklin, Napoleon Hill also wrote several bestselling books. “perhaps we shall learn, as we pass through this age, that the “other self” is more powerful than the physical self we see when we look into a mirror.” This quote from his book “Think and Grow Rich” contains a great admonition. Our inner voice can create a very powerful self-image.
In another book, “Success through a Positive Mental Attitude”, Hill promotes the importance and necessity of PMA – Positive Mental Attitude. Considered one of the first to write what would become known as self-help books, Hill advocated that success, health, happiness, and wealth were dependent upon how one made up one’s mind. He also identified and warned against NMA, the negative mental attitude that many develop.
This week we have been discussing self-love and cultivating it as we strive to succeed in life. Next week we will go deeper into this concept as we discuss self-worth and how we value ourselves and our future. First, though, we must love ourselves – not in an egotistical manner but honestly and sincerely.
At a commencement ceremony in 2005 at Stanford University, Apple founder Steve Jobs advised graduates: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” Hear the critiques of your inner voice and then turn them into positives. Use them as soil in which to grow into yourself and your true being. Becoming comfortable in your own skin will lead to contentment and that is the first step towards success and happiness. It is also the canvas on which a beautiful soul flourishes.