The Persistent Nature of That Sabotaging Voice (The Voice, Part 6)

Another blog post from my favorite writer, comfort zone stretcher and personal growth guru–my mom!

CELEBRATING 79 AND MY “LITTLE VOICE”

I guess I always thought my little voice would disappear as I got older. Not so! I’m here to tell you that at age 79, my little voice is alive and well and LOUD!

When I wanted to become an attorney in my late 30s, my little voice went nuts! “You are newly married – he won’t be happy if you desert him for law school – in fact, he’ll probably leave. And, what about your children. They are still in school. They need you. You’ll muck up their lives. They’ll need therapy – all because of your neglect. And, you have a full-time job – how on earth can you be a full-time paralegal and do law school? This is a disaster! You are so selfish – only thinking of yourself. You are so unrealistic – here you are pushing 40 and somehow you think you have the energy to do this?!? You’re a nut case!”

And then in my early 60s, I wanted to start up a think tank of financial experts to donate their time to consult with service agencies on how to deal with cases of financial elder abuse. My little voice said, among other things: “You are too old to start this project. You don’t know the right people. How are you going to recruit? You have no credibility in the financial arena. How are you going to get funding? Who is going to sponsor this group? Why you – there are so many other people who would be better at this.”

When I turned 71, I found a new discipline and philosophy for moving my body (aka exercise) called Restorative Exercise (now Nutritious Movement) based on biomechanics. I wanted to become an instructor. “Get serious,” said my little voice. “You’re 71!!!! What are you thinking? You are the stiffest person I know. You did weight lifting and race-walking – you don’t have a clue about anything this discipline teaches and you will never be able to do the moves/exercises let alone become a teacher. Your brain isn’t capable of learning anatomy and biomechanics at this age. Relax. Read a book, play a game, spend time with your husband and grandchildren.”

At 77, I wanted to write a book about my experience of how the practice of Nutritious Movement changed and improved the quality of my life as I got older. I thought it would be fun to write it with three of my friends in their 70s. Little Voice: “What makes you think anyone cares about you at your age? What makes you think your friends want to work with you on this project? No one will publish it. No one will read it. Get a life!”

At 79, I have accomplished all of the above with great success. How have I persevered? Maybe I am just stubborn (little voice gives that a thumbs up). I choose to believe I am CURIOUS. I want to know what is POSSIBLE for ME. My curiosity, along with passion, focus and persistence, has allowed me to go ahead and DO/BE these things. Doesn’t mean my little voice ever shuts up.

Today, there is a voice in my head that says, “Okay, now you are starting your 80th year, you don’t have to try anymore. You have nothing to prove. No one expects anything of you when you are this old. You don’t have to do anything you don’t feel like doing. Especially if it scares you or might embarrass you or people might think you are too old to be doing that. Or you might ‘hurt’ yourself. Besides, who knows whether your mind and/or body are capable of doing ‘new’ things? Why risk it?” My question is – is that the voice of reason/wisdom or is that my same old little voice? And what is that voice after all – is it fear?

I’m pretty sure it’s my same little voice (which I suspect is fear-based) trying to disguise itself now as the voice of “reason/wisdom.” I’m pretty sure my little voice will be yakkity-yakking at me the rest of my life. Doesn’t mean I have to give in to it. For me, if I really want to DO/BE something, I will continue to go for it and see what happens. In my experience, few things are fatal and the rewards can be awesome!

Joan Virginia Allen, retired Attorney, creator and first Coordinator of three county-wide Financial Abuse Specialist Teams, certified Restorative Exercise Specialist, co-author best-selling book, Dynamic Aging: Simple Exercises for Whole Body Mobility

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What I learned from my mom today:

  1.   This little guy/gal will never shut up.  Get used to it.  Develop a strategy.  Hers is “try it and see what happens.”  Brilliant!
  2.   This voice is redundant.  Try this: read back through this post and notice all the places Joan’s voice speaks and see if you can discern a theme – ideas or specific language.  What would you be listening for if you were Joan?  How would you be able to recognize the voice so you can answer her question “is that the voice of reason/wisdom or is that my same old little voice?”
  3.  This voice is clever.  It will sound like you.  My mom is reasonable and so her voice tricks her by sounding reasonable.
  4.  You will likely ask the question she asks – is it real or is it the voice?  We have fear about not listening to the voice just in case it is right.  I don’t have a cut and dried answer for you.  As a rule though, it’s the voice.  Anything that says, “you can’t” or “you aren’t good enough, or ____ enough” or “people will think…..” or “you will embarrass yourself” is the Voice.  “You are too old” is not a voice of wisdom.