Inner voice and outer conscience

It’s a daily struggle.

There’s my self-destructive, stubborn, whiny inner voice, that commands the satisfaction of the worst desires. Buy the chips now, forget about the spinach. Buy the cigarettes, you’ll quit another time. Buy the whiskey, you’ll do some work tomorrow. Silence your phone, you’ll answer later. Stay home tonight, you’ll catch up with friends next week.

On the other side, there’s my outer conscience. Gentle, forgiving, compassionate, optimistic. It speaks in a soft tone, encouraging me to stay strong. It comforts me. It assures that things will work out, I’m not a monster, it’s not too late.

Some lucky days, that outer conscience wins the battle. I splash my face with cold water, put on some clothes, cook healthy meals, focus on my studies for a few hours. Following the input of my outer conscience makes me happy, serene, blissfully ready for bed at the end of the day.

But then, the inner voice starts screaming. Why are you still trying? Who cares about your health — you’ll die anyway, won’t you? You’ve wasted a lot of time, why not just let it go? You’ll screw things up, why bother?

It’s like having to nurture a little kid. A kid who’s angry, bored, impossible to please, impossible to reason with. When I’m tired, starving, desperate, I just want to shut it up. In the process, feeling like a miserable loser who deserves all the bad that’s coming next. Guilty. Alone.

I read so much stuff involving the topic of self-improvement. Regular exercise, meditation, deep breathing, healthy diet, a gallon of water a day. Journaling, keeping touch with others, practicing mindfulness, doing something to jump-start the momentum. It’s almost all straightforward, great advice. Yet, some days, it’s infuriating. It seems simple, it should be easy. Why is it so hard?

I do know well enough people who learned how to ignore the inner voice. They wake up early every day, no matter what, tackle every item on their list, go to bed and keep up the good routine come hell or high water. Yet, they’re not as happy or proud as they should be. Other worries come up, no matter who they are and where they’re at. Some of those worries, unsolvable, too.

Apparently, working hard is no guarantee of a good life. What is, then? Is it truly all about luck? Embracing the journey, in all of its turns? Soothing one’s bad feelings with positive distractions? Love?

I feel like either there’s no answer at all, or there must be some higher truth that is eluding my mind.