Many times in our lives, we’ve encountered with endless opportunities that require taking one decision, and that decision when is of paramount importance will eventually lead us to a significant turn in our lives and probably jn our own destiny. As soon as we find out about that decision, as soon as we feel the attraction towards that event, person or opportunity we are starting to hear a voice that begins the chattering inside of our head…and the journey of that voice begins !! What a paradigm, don’t you think so?
Like popcorn in the microwave one voice after another start a discussion about what to do? It’s almost immediately that our primitive brain starts triggering the past memories or trying to forecast the future of that decision !!
So let’s begin with some history background of this “little” voice …
Historically, views on the nature of the inner voice have varied dramatically, with some arguing that the inner voice is nothing more than “speech minus sound” (Muller, 1864) or “sub-vocal speech” (Watson, 1919), while others maintain that inner speech is nothing less than the medium of conscious thought (Davidson, 1975; Wittgenstein, 1921). Developmental psychologist Vygotsky (1962) positioned himself somewhere between these two extremes, suggesting that the inner voice develops out of self-directed speech, and that its purpose is primarily self-regulatory. According to this view, the inner voice functions specifically to help us to control our actions (1).
Taking into account all of this psychological and philosophical scenery we can notice that our inner self is constantly quoted as well as the purpose of the voice which is to help us or I would better say guide us or point us into a direction to perform our actions. That direction will vary of course due to our own past experiences, programming of our parents or caregivers and also it will be greatly influenced by our environment therefore it can be an accurate inner voice or an inner voice that will lead us to trouble or to a poor decision. That’s why is of fundamental value to know ourselves, as mentioned in our last article “Is Free Will Really Yours?” (2), if we run the risk of not investing in our inner knowledge, in purifying and detecting which are our toxic programs, patterns and probably by now behaviors, our inner voice will be charged with a heavy burden of low self-esteem, hesitation and in the worst scenario with a dangerous self-mode which can lead us to hurt ourselves or to hurt someone else.
On the other hand and focusing in an optimistic and growing scenario this inner voice can really be an amazing powerful insight of the voice of our higher self, the voice of our heart, the voice that will guide us to the light of taking our best decision and constantly approaching our best version…Why?
“Just because” our inner nature is towards abundance, enlightenment, fullness but we have not being cultivated with that purpose, we have misguided by many other voices which have made bumps inside our mind and have created a misconception of our reality, molded to what other people wanted us to believe. Anyhow If we’ve been able to awake, to rebel against those programs and voices firstly by investing time in knowing ourselves then it will be easier to modulate our inner voice, to purify it, to make it as divine as it once was.
I believe we all have good memories of our childhood and the first encounter with that voice, which usually led us to curiosity, to figuring out something, to understand the first things that created awe or woke up interest inside us, if we were lucky and had conscious parents that encourage that kind of behavior, probably that inner voice is healthier and very powerful by giving us the right coordinates of what to decide and which “call” is for us.
Self-control can be conceptualized more specifically as the ability to overcome impulses — behaviors that are innate or have become automatic (1). Metcalfe and Mischel proposed a model of control as a cognitive-affective processing system. In this model, behavior is governed by two antagonistic forces: a cognitive “cool” system that provides objective and rational decisions for action, and an affective “hot” system that drives emotional responses. In a given situation, the hot system is the foundation for the impulsive reaction, while the cool system becomes engaged when we attempt to override that impulse and pursue a different, rationally assessed course of action. It has often been suggested that two of the key capacities underlying this “cool” system are attention and working memory (3).
Which if we explain that paragraph in colloquial words can be exemplified as the signals that your intellectual (brain) and emotional (heart) exert over your decisions.
We can also distinguish that another “actor” enter the scene and this is the attention that in more colloquial words I would name presence. If we join these three powerful forces to make up our mind and take a decision guided by our voice then we will surely be in a more fertile soil to thrive in our everyday activities.
We are a complex system of environmental information that is constantly being hacked towards loosing your attention, your presence and draining your energy on the outside material luring triggers that are investing into knowing all your likes, knowing maybe even almost the way you feel and making you less intellectual and more emotional to ease the control of your impulses and obtain more profit for themselves at the cost of your lack of interest that you have had to know your reactions, emotions and impulses.
Findings reveal the repercussions of occupying attentional resources; when distracted, people exhibit weakened abilities to control thoughts and behaviors. In other words, when the “cool” system is occupied, the “hot” system takes over (1).
This just highlights what was just explained, the more we get distracted with pointless triggers made up by our environment and media, the easier you are to be controlled by your emotions and as a consequence the less “fidelity & assertiveness” your inner voice will have. That is the root of many of the chronic toxic behaviors that we observe in our current society that are leading us to sky rocketing statistics of anxiety, depression, suicidal issues, obesity, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disorders.
When we decide carelessly and guided by a “distorted/misguided” inner voice we tend to follow toxic patterns of conduct, which will eventually conduce us to either wanting to damage ourselves to stop the voice or to make it right, or damaging others to obtain the same result.
In the end we all need and want peace of mind, which can be achieved by calming, fine tuning and redirecting our inner voice, and really helping us to achieve that self control.
Verbalizing one’s characteristics to oneself or engaging in a complex silent verbal self-analysis is postulated to facilitate the identification, storage, and retrieval of self-information. Inner speech is known to serve various important cognitive functions, among which are planning, self-regulation, self- control, and memory, including working memory (5).
Morin and Michaud noted that inner speech production consistently recruits the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) and reported a relatively high incidence of LIFG activation during self-reflection tasks, suggesting inner speech activity during at least some self-information processing (5).
The LIFG was more frequently recruited during conceptual self- tasks (e.g., emotions, traits) than during perceptual self-tasks (agency and self-recognition). This possibly suggests that more abstract self-aspects need to be verbalized in order to be fully brought to consciousness (5).
Jackendoff, and Prinz following him, holds that “pure” conscious thinking is impossible for architectural reasons: we can be conscious of intermediate level representations (like 2.5D representations in the visual system), but never of basic-level or higher-level representations, such as concepts or spatial 3D representations. Thus, if we want to have conscious thoughts, we have to use a representational format that has the right kind of representations. Images are good, but phonological representations are much better, given that phonological representations can vehicle many more kinds of thoughts (about the future or past, about abstracta and possibilia, about relations, etc.) (6).
All of these facts and research of how certain regions of the brain are used when detecting, requesting and using our inner voice point to the fact that we use this powerful tool as a mean to download, interpret, translate abstract concepts or spatial representations of things into an easier form of receiving the message, pretty much that is probably why when were in Math Class receiving fractions or graphic representations of equations we used our inner voice to translate those complex concepts and thoughts into a digestive form of information.
And this fact actually is why we need to clean our inner voice, to fine tune it, to allow us to express the most virtuous behaviors of ourselves and to approach us to a higher conscience. As mentioned above this voice is also involved in our thought processes of planning, relating to people, allowing us the possibility to interact in a healthier way, which is what we all want, isn’t it?
Therefore .. What would be the pathway to follow if we want to extract all the power, or the benefits and to thrive into a more conscious way of being and interacting with others?
We ought to be compromised to start questioning the voice, to start redirecting some toxic approaches that it might have, to exercise our awareness of the choices that we are presented in our lives. To stop resisting the change, or the hardship of some of the paths that we’ve leading to and to start accepting them.
When we promote the acceptance of some detour or deviation from what we wanted, we embrace the struggle and even become grateful with it, is when we start opening that ray of light that we wanted to see at the beginning, but we couldn’t, and we couldn’t because that higher self, wants you to become more responsible of your decisions, wants you to become more awake of every step you give, and wants you to discover your broad spectrum of abilities that lie within yourself, by doing this we are realigning our inner voice with our higher self and fixing its GPS in order to be more accurate during the next detours that for sure we will have.
Murmuring, as Brian Stock reminds us, is a form of meditation. Returning to the Hebrew Bible in his wide-ranging account of meditation, reading, and healing in the Western tradition, he tells us that the root means "to murmur in a low voice" and that this haga means “to murmur in a low voice" and that this haga act is translated sometimes into Latin as meditatio.
To murmur is to give voice, yet only partially. It suggests a sound — or perhaps a quasi-sound — that is scarcely more than a breath, yet is voluntary, resulting from a thought, and constituting the most traditional manifestation of life: pneuma or spiritus or anima, as a form of wind (4).
This biblical murmur, poised between speech and silence, modulates itself into the monastic lectio divina, an alternation between oral reading and silent reflection, where prayer and scripture are experienced physically and mentally, at this frontier of body and mind (4).
These reflections allow us to introduce a very powerful, ancient and now more used tool that can help us fine tune and self regulate our inner voice “MEDITATION”.
When we meditate, not diving into the many techniques and types of mediation, essentially you are listening to your breath, focusing on the present moment, controlling your attention towards feeling peace and becoming more and more aware of your thoughts although essentially you don’t pay attention to them.
With this tool we are able to tune in a higher energy frequency that comes from our higher self and that will literally overflow us with positive healing energy that will help us control our emotions, modulate our reactions and shape our behaviors towards a more virtuous goal. Giving us power to become a better self, a better human being and generating inside of us gratitude, compassion, self-love and global love.
The more we get immersed in our own noises, in our own body voices, internal signals through meditation, through listening to ourselves and our higher self, the more independent and responsible we will become as we will really own that ”Free Will” which is only true when you act out of consciousness, out of your best intentions and producing your best behaviors.
Then again if we insist on following the misleading cues, attractions and shiny stuff from outside trying to avoid the “hard way” or the “intense pathway” fearing the pain that we may encounter during the journey, we are unconsciously steeping away from the only path to be enlightened which is hard work, discipline and acquiring mastery to transform and modulate the pain of our multiple detours that will be faced during our lives.
This is the key goal when modulating your inner voice, acquiring abilities to perform better, to help others, to give attention to the things that really matter, to become a role model for your children and the people around you and this will only be achieved in you engage into hearing first to your heart beating, to your breath inhaling and exhaling, to your powerful link between intellectual (brain) and emotional (heart) responses and voices and melting them into one powerful voice that will guide you through your whole life and that is always material to be molded, to be better and to be more accurate …as you also are by just BEING YOURSELF !!!
Tullett, A. M., & Inzlicht, M. (2010). The voice of self-control: Blocking the inner voice increases impulsive responding. Acta Psychologica, 135(2), 252–256.
Ortega D. “Is Free Will Really Yours?”. https://www.gen-es.mx/bloggenesmx. June 21st, 2019.
Metcalfe, J., & Mischel, W. (1999). A hot/cool system analysis of delay of gratification: Dynamics of willpower. Psychological Review, 106, 3−19.
Lyons, J. (2006). Meditation and the Inner Voice. New Literary History, 37(3), 525-538.
Morin, A., & Hamper, B. (2012). Self-reflection and the inner voice: activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus during perceptual and conceptual self-referential thinking. The open neuroimaging journal, 6, 78–89.
Martínez-Manrique, F., & Vicente, A. (2015). The activity view of inner speech. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.