Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Inner Roommate

Sometime in 1995 I listened to some CDs in the car that were recordings of a class a gal taught on how to work the 12 Steps on just our spirituality.  She said that we should start listening and paying close attention to our thoughts because our thinking was the source of our troubles. Now I had certainly heard a bunch of times that "stinkin thinkin" was a huge source of trouble, but I hadn't ever heard it described in just that way before. 

So I suddenly became aware that my thoughts were what was causing me so much emotional pain. Those thoughts were almost always telling me that I should be worrying about an enormous number of things, and that I should be judging myself harshly for all my mistakes, and it always predicted that I was going to fail miserably at everything I attempted. The point was that most of what my thoughts were telling me were lies.  It was a huge awakening.

Then one of my mentors invited me to a book study of a book called, "Soul Without Shame."  It was a kind of odd book but very useful.  It described something the author called, "The Judge" that constantly criticized us in our minds.  I equated "The Judge" with what I had heard about "stinkin thinkin."

Sometime later the same mentor invited me to a book study of "The Four Agreements."  Lo and behold, this book described "The Parasite" which is composed of a judge and a victim.  Of course, the description was of the "stinkin thinkin" that goes on in our heads. 

Just in the last few months I came across another book that describes the phenomenon as "your inner roommate."  I like that term the best.  The other descriptions are awfully negative.  I believe this "voice inside my head" that I used to call my thinking, is actually something that evolved to help me.  It tries to think of everything that might be dangerous and warn me.  It tries to improve my character with its criticism.  The trouble is it's run completely off the tracks and instead of preventing or solving problems, it has turned into the problem.

The problem stems from the fact that I believe my inner roommate is ME...  that it's me that says all the stuff it says and that what it says is TRUE!  It turns out that it's actually NOT me.  It's just a voice in my head.  And if it were an actual person sitting at my kitchen table saying the stuff it says to me, I would never believe what it says. 

My inner roommate is incredibly neurotic, obnoxious and negative.  In fact, it's mean and cruel and mean- spirited.  I wouldn't even be willing to have it for a friend, let alone acknowledge it as ME.  And yet I have listened to this horrible crap day in and day out for my whole life.

So...what's the solution.  Well, for starters, being aware of the actual truth.  Everybody has an inner roommate and I suspect that theirs are as much a pain in the ass as mine is.  If it were an actual person, I could just kick it out of my life.  But since it lives in my head, I'm stuck with it.  So I am gradually learning to just not believe what it says - its criticisms and judgments of me, its predictions of future horrors, and its painful, mean-spirited judgments of my past behavior.  I thank it for trying to be helpful and turn my attention elsewhere. 

Little by little my inner roommate is becoming quieter and less cruel.  It has even stopped bringing up the time when I was in second grade and stole a pencil off Miss Edison's desk.  That was one it used to like to remind me of when it couldn't think of anything else. 
I'm looking forward to the time when it falls asleep from lack of an audience. 

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