7 Things I Have Learned From The Voices In My Head
I have a friend inside my head. His name is Kevin. He exists behind my right ear and he looks a lot like a cartoon stick figure. We talk all day. When I’m happy he cheers me on, when I’m sad he comforts me. But sometimes, he sprouts spikes and claws, and takes over my whole brain. Have you ever seen a massive thundercloud block out the sun? Kevin is that massive dark cloud sometimes.
He’s mean, and if it gets really bad he tells me to kill myself. I experience this around ten times a week (much better than at my worst). Kevin and I see colors and hear music no one else experiences. He’s my worst enemy and my best friend in the world. Here’s what he has taught me.
1. We all die in the end. Let’s have some fun along the way.
Before I go into the entire list, I have to say, that in the end, we all die. None of this really matters. One day you, your friends and family will be dead. But that’s okay. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world. Death breeds impetus. It provides me with a sense of urgency. A sense that one day, this all might be over.
Every story has an end, just like yours and mine. I’ve come close to cutting my own story short, but that has only showed me how beautiful wet sidewalks can be. Or how studying the eyelashes of the one you love can be the most breathtaking experience in the world. Or how amazing it feels to see the sunrise for the first time in years. I love therefore I am. I beat death by the way I live. I strive to live fearlessly.
Fun is what I’m after. I prioritize it everyday. Play vibrantly.
2. Be quick to love.
People normally ooh and ahh when someone confesses their love to another person, especially in a romantic way. In rom coms, it is the big reveal. the crux of the movie, the ultimate climax. I have been scared so many times to tell someone I love them. Even my Mom. It’s like this weird part of my masculine identity that tells me it’s weak if I express my love.
After being suicidal and losing my father, I skip steps. I don’t fall into liking people. I fall in love, hard and fast. And when I start loving someone, I don’t stop. I promise love, no matter what. I believe that trust is the most important facet in a relationship. It breeds growth. I find people who tell me yes, and. Support has a tricky friend named control, they are all to easy to confuse.
I fall in love quick. Normally, we use love as in I love you. I believe that kind of love exists between two people. But what I believe more strongly, is that love is a way of seeing the world. When I was depressed, I saw the world in varied shades of gray. I now see color everywhere I go. I am in love with the world, myself and everyone in it.
My dream is to find people who are excited about me, as I am about myself.
3. Self-care is a honed skill.
When I was taking care of my Dad, I had a really hard time taking care of myself. I had one goal in mind. I wanted to cure his cancer and get my Dad back. I wanted to go fishing with him and learn about his gardens. I wanted to talk to him about girls and jobs. I wanted him to help me figure out my future. We had those conversations but he slowly slipped into a shadow of the man he used to be. I identified so strongly with him, that I slipped away as he crossed the threshold to death.
People around me always told me to take care of myself during those months when he was dying. However, I never knew what that meant. After a year of drinking, smoking and unhealthy relationships, I finally felt a breath of fresh air fill my lungs. I started to run again. I reconnected with old friends. I got an awesome job teaching English. I climbed mountains, watched sunsets and swam in the ocean.
Self-care is an active pursuit of what your soul yearns for. It requires self-awareness, emotional intelligence and lots of failure to perfect. Destructive habits are just that, destructive. However, out of destruction comes creation, something new, something fresh, something you’ve never seen before. And that, that is worth living for.
4. Make friends with your monster.
Sometimes I have a demonic voice in my head. The words he says are a mixture of all the negative self-talk I have built up over the years I mix my own thoughts to what I think other peoples’ perceptions are of me. Then I add in what people have said to hurt me over the years.
Diagnosed as bipolar, I experience suicidal thoughts all the time. I recently figured out the voices are coming from a really dark place in my head. I’ve pin pointed where and why those thoughts come up. Normally, I’m just tired or hungry. When that happens, in comes my monster.
As I talk to more people about their own monsters, many people have told me they try and crush their monster. They try and roll over it with a boulder or shoot it in the head. Trust me, I have tried to kill my monster. It doesn’t work.
Instead, I made friends with that part of myself. It’s dark purple and I love it. I apply the same thinking to the people who have tried to hurt me in my life. Sometimes my gut reaction is anger when someone hurts me. However, I always try to remind myself that I believe that people are always trying to do their absolute best.
If you can give your enemies the benefit of the doubt, you can create a loving environment for yourself and them. My hate for others only comes from a feeling of dissatisfaction with my own self-image. That truth always wins, and that love never dies.
5. Trust your inner voice.
Do you know that voice that creeps up to you in the middle of the night and lingers at the edges of your mind? The one that makes you feel haunted. The nervous tick before a presentation, the sound of heartbreak after a break up, and the joy of seeing the ocean for the first time. Everyone has a voice. Some psychologists talk about it existing in a state of “flow”, letting your body and mind go where it must.
Tapping into that will let you understand yourself better and relate to the world in a more authentic way. It might come out as words in your head, pictures, videos, movement, or talking. The happiest state I have ever found is connecting with a person with a heightened level of awareness. My hands go from cold to red hot. I feel blood rushing to my finger tips. I feel the moment pass slowly, and smoothly. I feel completely and totally happy.
That voice will tell you what you want and need in the moment. Suppressing it will only hurt you and those around you. Listen closely, it’s whispering to you right now.
6. Limits are an illusion.
When we go about our lives, we think there is a preordained way of thinking about the world. There are certain boxes we have to check to be seen as an upstanding member of society. Go to college, get good grades, find a job, marry someone, buy a house, and have babies. Nothing is wrong with those things.
However, that is a movie I have seen all too often end in heart break and missed opportunities. I plan on doing all those things. However, I’m going to get there in as creative of a way as possible. I’m going to live everyday with as much passion as possible and then more, and then more after that, and then more after that.
This video, “35” by Duct Tape then Beer makes me cry every time I see it. Brendan Leonard is a climber who decided to do 35 routes to celebrate his 35th birthday. My favorite quote from it is this, “And when it all adds up, you’re not doing something, you’re being something. And what I want to be, is happy.”
My life is about pushing myself to the extremes, and then further. Seeking happiness in seemingly meaningless things. To do so requires great work ethic. Say you normally do twenty five push ups to work out. To really increase that number for next week, find a space, and never leave until you have done 400 pushups. Rest, recover, relax, and then push harder the next day.
That is how boundaries are broken. Breaking past what you think is your absolute limit, and then going further. Try it, you’ll surprise yourself.
7. You are f**king awesome.
For me to make it through this life, I have to believe that I am awesome. In the words of Ricky Bobby, “Well, I’m the best there is. Plain and simple, when I wake up in the morning I piss excellence.”
No one else in the world is going to live your life for you. Yes, they can support you and be there for you. But I will live and die alone, in my own head. I am building a happy place in my wrinkled brain for when that day comes.
Some might be wary about aggressive self-confidence. They might consider too much self-promotion a selfish. For me? That confidence is what keeps me alive everyday. I am my own best friend. I take care of me. And in the process, I usually end up helping others.
The most important thought I think about every day, is that I am alive and I am loving every second.
In the words of Fitz Cahall, dreams do come true on a Tuesday. They might be dirty and spiky, but that’s what makes them alive and real. There’s nothing more beautiful than what is.
Howard Thurman once said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
If there is one thing my voices have taught me, it is to live gently. Treat yourself with respect. You deserve it. Listen to each breath pass, because it will never come again. Just like you.
Paint your life a masterpiece and watch the colors fly. I promise, it will be the best decision you have ever made.
Originally published at theodysseyonline.com on January 26, 2016.