Barbara Emrys

The Gadget

from Barbara Emrys

Did you ever stop and ask yourself why you’re afraid, even when things are going well? And why do you get so cranky and combative in certain situations? We all accumulate a lot of poison– poison that corrupts our actions and conversations. But how does that happen? Where does that toxic stuff come from? What device is being used to inject it into our system, whether we want it or not?

I guess you know the answer by now. You are the device that administers the poison. You are the gadget, the gizmo. You are that little trick– the imagined voice, grumbling all day and stirring up trouble. It’s not that you want to; you may not even be aware you’re doing it. And that’s the problem. Not much will change in your world without a basic awareness of what you do.

These days, it seems necessary repeat certain messages, and often. Listen to yourself, is one. Don’t believe yourself is another. Oh, and there’s this one: don’t believe anyone else. Those are three great reminders, all of them intended to silence that pesky voice in your head.

Even if that voice wasn’t you, the same lessons would apply: don’t believe any of it, but listen. Listen, so you know how you talk to yourself, even when you’re not talking. Listen, just to see how your nervous system responds to other people’s stories. Listen, and notice how you react emotionally to things that aren’t even happening. Listen, and be discerning about what you believe. Listen, and expand your personal awareness.
We all have access to wisdom. Spiritual teachings help us handle the challenges of being human. Our parents have their favorite proverbs and platitudes. Pop music gives us inspiring phrases. We can even ask our phones to deliver daily quotations. So, we have tools at hand, but sometimes we lack the will to apply those tools.

Maybe we reject a message because we don’t want to self-reflect; because we think self-reflection leads to unwelcome change. Maybe we don’t trust ourselves to be patient enough (or agile enough) to change. It could be we don’t trust words like truth, or transformation. Maybe we don’t trust the process. Or maybe, long ago, we stopped trusting the messengers.

And yet, we’re still trusting the voice in our heads. We believe almost everything it tells us, especially when our self-importance is at stake. We accept every assertion it makes, often with disturbing results. We let it hurt our relationships. We let it confuse us. We let it blind us. We let it drive us to righteous anger. And, when our insecurities get going, that voice can actually destroy us.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before: you can only change what you allow yourself to see. If you see that your thoughts and actions are hurting you, then it makes sense to change the way you think and act. Of course, you’d have to stop believing most of the things you tell yourself. And why wouldn’t you want to stop? Why would you put your faith in a voice that seems determined to mess with you?

You project your problems and aggravations onto others. They do the same to you– but what you can see you can change. You can put faith in you, rather than in your opinions. If you’re in the habit of making assumptions, you can abandon the habit. If you’re lying to yourself, you can make an effort to be more honest. If you take things too personally, you can stop it– and save yourself a lot of distress.

You can achieve so much by doing the kind of exercise that won’t even work up a sweat. You can exercise your will. Instead of going to the gym one day, you could ‘go to the source’ and deal with the noise inside your head. Instead of taking a walk, you could take inventory. Instead of following your favorite news commentator, you could follow your own running commentary.

You could listen to that little voice…and decide not to believe a word it says.

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