Inner dialogue is the whisper of thoughts that motivate our thoughts and actions. They were developed by the things people said to us as we grew and by traumatic events (even the seemingly silly ones).
My inner dialogue says to me, “You’re self-centered and uncaring. You’re brazen and misguided. No one cares what you have to say, no one cares about your life.” These beliefs have shaped a lot of who I am and how I respond. But they are untrue. Or if they are true, they are misinterpreted. Or possibly they shouldn’t even be considered bad, in of themselves.
Every weakness has an equal and opposite strength. Self-centeredness is the flip-side of introspection. Brazen is courage in a way people don’t like.
But knowing this doesn’t help my insecurity.
I love writing web copy and pamphlets, but I would love to be a novelist. Until recently, though, I’ve never even attempted writing fiction. My inner dialogue convinced me no one wants to hear my stories.
This really hit me last week when my daughter kept asking me to tell stories of things that happened in my life. When my father left my mother. When I had a miscarriage. When I ran away from home (I was four and bringing a bag of books to my mother at work). When I told her she was asking me to tell stories a lot that day, she said, “You have good stories to tell.”
I have partly withheld these stories from my daughter, because my mother used to tell me the same stories over and over. (Ok, she still does.) I had such contempt for her stories, and I didn’t want to impose upon others the same way she did. I have since learned to deal with her stories, and I even engage with her so I can get more out of it. Besides, it’s because mom told me about her miscarriages that I was better able to deal with my own.
I shouldn’t withhold my stories. I have exemplary gifts that I need to give to others: I see truth, I speak boldly, I write well. This sounds a bit like “God’s gift to humanity,” but, honestly, I am. (And so are you.)
I’ve always had ways around the inner dialogue, though. For instance, I let people walk all over me, but when I see the same injustice to others, I defend the victim…which conveniently defends me.
I have found a similar bypass in my writing. I am not voicing my story, I am voicing the stories of others. But that is what I really want to accomplish with my writing. That is why I love Beloved and aspire to create something with such impact.
But in speaking for those who can’t, I’m allowing myself to speak for me, as well. I find validation for my own feelings and experiences and beliefs through being a voice for others.
So I’m finally writing. I’m giving a voice to women, specifically the women I know, but so many others will find their voice in it, too. And my voice is in there somewhere. And maybe someday, I’ll be able to write my own story with confidence.
What holds you back? What inner dialogue do you need to deal with? How do you bypass it? What talents have you buried fout of fear? What gift have you withheld from the world out of the fear of the gift?