Every one of us, from time to time, hears an internal voice speaking to us. Some call this the voice of conscience while others call it the voice of reason. In either case, something is going in inside of our head that tries to communicate with us every day of our life.
When I was growing up there was a TV commercial that showed a man about to make an important decision and two different little men (who also looked just like him) were sitting on each shoulder next to his head. One voice was trying to lead him in the right direction and the other voice in the wrong direction. Maybe you remember that commercial as well. Those are the voices I am talking about today!
I have discovered that there are also two voices that are constantly talking to me. One voice sits on my right shoulder. (I call him the “Right voice” because he is on my “right” side. It is easy for me to remember that way.) Then there is the voice that is on my left shoulder. I can remember him because he is the “Lying voice” on the “left” side, usually trying to lead me in the wrong direction and get me into trouble. Oddly enough, both of these voices speak with my exact same voice tone, accent and inflection. They both sound strangely like me. Today I want to introduce you to these two voices so that you can see how they speak to me and how these similar voices may be speaking to you.
The guy that sits on my right shoulder and talks to me is my friend. He is the one who encourages me. He says things like, “You can do it!” “You are getting better.” “Sure you made a mistake last time, but you can learn from your past mistakes and you will do better next time.” “You want to be a good person.” “You have a good heart.” “You care about other people.” “You are making progress.” “You are learning and growing every day of your life!” All of those wonderful, encouraging remarks come from the voice on my right shoulder.
The voice on my left speaks to me as well. He is the voice that tries to fill me with fear, negative thoughts, shame, anger and disappointment. He speaks loud and clear and his voice is an everyday occurrence. He says things to me like, “You are no good.” “You never should have done that.” “You have made so many mistakes you will never be able to recover from all of them.” “You are a bad person.” “You went through a divorce years ago so who are you to tell anybody how to have a relationship?” “You are a real loser.” “You don’t know anything about being a father or a grandfather!” “You have made some bad business decisions.” “You are not a very smart person.” “Your life does not matter; it is a big waste of time!”
You didn’t know that about me, did you? You did not know that I hear voices! The amazing thing is that if I could sit down with you face to face, you would tell me that you hear those same two voices. You hear the “right” voice that is trying to help you. This voice tells you to keep trying, to keep going, to learn from your failures and past mistakes. It says to you that life is getting better, that you truly want to be a good person and you do have a good heart. You would also tell me that you hear the other voice, the one on the “left” side that tells you to give up and quit. It says to you that your life is a horrible mess, that relationships are failing, and that there is no real happiness or fun remaining for you in this life.
But wait, do I have some good news for you! The wonderful thing is that we get to listen to which voice we want to! It is up to you and me to decide which voice we want to cooperate with. We actually do get to decide which voice we want to follow. While I cannot make the guy on my left shoulder be quiet or stop trying his best to distract me or lead me astray, I do not have to listen to him. I do not have to obey him and I do not have to believe what he is telling me. I am free to choose to listen to the guy on my right shoulder. He is my friend.
Now, a word of caution is necessary. Sometimes the guy on the left is actually correct. Sometimes I do mess up and boy, does he enjoy it when that happens! He laughs and beats me up pretty badly for a while. But, once again, the guy on the right shoulder is always there as well. He comes to my rescue and encourages me to learn from my mistakes and to realize that I am not perfect. Even though I fail at times, I can learn and grow from my mistakes in order to be a better person. He reminds me that life is a journey rather than a destination!
I want to encourage you to take a fearless inventory of where you currently are in your life. Look at your strengths and weaknesses. Look at the people in your life. Get a notepad and write down everything the right guy on your right shoulder has been saying to you lately and be encouraged. Actually write down his words so you can gain clarity by seeing what he constantly says to you!
Then on a separate sheet of paper write down all of the negative, hurtful things the guy on your left shoulder has been speaking to you. Write down his words to. Do not be surprised if he has more to say to you than the guy on the right side. Remember, he is a liar and liars usually like to talk more! Look your notes over and decide which voice you are going to listen to, cooperate with and obey. I would encourage you to go with the voice on your right shoulder.
When the voice on your left shoulder speaks to you, take a moment to evaluate what he is saying. Take any truth out of it that you can get and then cast his negative, bitter spirit away from you. It does you no good! Remember, he is not trying to help you. He is trying to hurt you! However, the voice on the right will constantly be with you to guide, encourage and direct you. He is your friend. He is there to help you! His voice will be the voice of faith, hope and love. It will be the voice that will guide you in the days to come in all that you do.
Tip: Listen to the voice on your right shoulder!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm