Home > Lifestyles, Natasha Josefowitz > Inner Voices of Reason and Emotion

Inner Voices of Reason and Emotion

By Natasha Josefowitz, Ph.D.

Natasha Josefowitz

LA JOLLA, California– It starts in the morning: Voice 1: “Get up!” Voice 2: “I’m still sleepy.” Voice 1 impatiently: “You’ll be late for work!” Voice 2, pleading: “Five more minutes.”

It goes on at breakfast: Voice 1: “Whole-wheat toast and fruit!” Voice 2: “There’s a doughnut left in the fridge.” Voice 1: “It’s all fat and sugar!” Voice 2: “Just this once.”

And so the voices continue throughout the day with every decision we have to make—from “Shall I walk up the three flights to my office or take the elevator?” to “Shall I criticize my colleague’s report or let it go?”

We all have many voices that send us very different messages—there is a worrier voice that always says “Be nice, don’t make trouble,” another that tells you to have fun and forget about the consequences, and an often loud one that is always ready to criticize: “You shouldn’t have, you’re stupid, don’t believe that compliment, you haven’t tried hard enough, it is not good enough, you’ll never make it.” etc.

It is important for all of us to identify the different voices in our heads so that we can decide which ones to listen to and when, and which ones are too critical or too inflammatory or too protective. Among all the static, there is a self, an inner core, the ego that is the decision maker, who decides what voices will be listened to and which will be told to shut up. When facing a decision, ask yourself which voice of yours seems to be loudest, and then pay attention to the other one too.

The voices sometimes do not get heard in time—like when we lose our temper and then regret it, the rational voice too soft to stop us, overshadowed by the stronger voice of emotion. Generally, the emotional voices are louder than the voices of reason. Emotions flood us, we react impulsively, unable to lower the volume of the hurt, the anger, the frustration. Remember the advice of counting to ten before responding? It is to give time for the emotional voice to quiet down and allow the rational one to be heard.

It is the emotional voice that gets us into trouble, yet it is a voice that needs to be taken into account. It gives us clues as to what is going on inside of ourselves. People who have shut down their emotional voice cannot connect to these voices in others and thus may be missing important information as to the emotional climate around them. People who have dimmed their voice of reason are prone to the seesaws of their feelings, buffeted by the both ill winds and soft breezes of emotional ups and downs.

If you watch and listen to people, you will be able to figure out which voices control them and you will be able to better predict their behaviors. Knowing this will also help you find the best ways to communicate with them and to appeal to their predominant ways of thinking.

And if you can figure out what your voices are trying to achieve, you’ll never again say, “I don’t understand why I did (said) that.” You’ll be able to blame that mischievous voice of yours.

Josefowitz is an author and freelance writer based in La Jolla. This article appered previously in La Jolla Village Voice

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